In July 2014, the Fox family suffered a tremendous loss in losing husband and father, Eric. It is now the family’s desire to set up a fund to benefit the Midnight Basketball Association, a youth outreach program of Spokane Hoopfest, in Eric’s memory.
At Hoopfest 2014, all was normal and well in the Fox family. In what is always the busiest basketball weekend of the year, Eric Fox was juggling coaching his two sons, Spencer (6th grade) and Andrew (4th grade), on their respective teams, while his wife, Kim, spectated, supported and cheered.
On July 12, Eric suffered an aortic aneurysm that took his life without warning and far too soon, leaving a painful hole in the Fox family and in the community.
Fox was a native of Brewster, Wash., where he fell in love with sports, but especially with the game of basketball. After helping his team earn two State B championships at Brewster, Fox moved to Spokane to attend school at Gonzaga University and earn a degree in engineering. He remained in Spokane for the rest of his life and was the co-owner at Applied Solutions.
But Fox’s real pride and joy was his family, with whom he loved sharing his passion for sports. He coached both boys in basketball and baseball, impacting many other community kids along the way. Fox was also an area referee. Starting with AAU and moving up to high school basketball, Fox officiated for 20 years and was a member of the Washington Officials Association. Kim Fox said that coaching and officiating were her husband’s way of staying connected to a game that he dearly loved, even though he no longer played.
In a way, basketball is the lifeline Eric left with his family. For Kim and the boys, basketball is still essential. Within a week of losing his dad, then 11-year-old Spencer was back on the court at a skills camp, which he considered a healthy way to cope and heal. The Foxes still avidly cheer for Gonzaga basketball, just as Eric did. They’ve always loved Hoopfest and AAU basketball and count them as key beats to the rhythm of their year. It has been the boys’ coaches that have stepped in to serve as father figures and role models as the family transitions into a new chapter.
When the family began receiving money in memory of Eric, it wasn’t hard to decide it needed to go to benefiting the community through basketball. The Foxes have selected to start a new fund, the Eric Fox Memorial Fund, which is to benefit the Midnight Basketball Association.
Midnight Basketball is a collaborative program between Spokane Public Schools and Spokane Hoopfest Association that offers a safe, constructive alternative for area youth, particularly within the central urban neighborhood of Spokane’s School District No. 81. Players range from grades 6 through 8 and the league runs during the fall in October and November in a 3-on-3 format, Hoopfest-style play. While basketball is the foundation of this league, motivational workshops and recreational activity are also crucial elements in strengthening participants’ character, self-esteem and discipline so they are better equipped and prepared for the challenges of their teen years and beyond. Midnight Basketball relies heavily on volunteers, so one of the needs identified of the league was a desire to pay the referees, which is what the fund will supply. Any additional monies donated will also benefit the larger Midnight Basketball organization.
Because of Eric’s love for officiating, basketball and the community at large, Kim feels this couldn’t be a better fit. She particularly likes that it will benefit kids in need and around the same age as her sons.
Fox’s hope is for this to be a sustainable fund, able to be renewed annually, that will allow ways for more people to be involved in Midnight Basketball and hopefully encourage the officials who volunteer their time for the good of the cause and the love of the game.
“It’s a small part of a bigger thing,” she said. “It is a good way for us to rally around Eric’s memory and give back to the community that has been so good to us. [The initial fundraising goal for the referees is not a huge one, but it could overflow into much more.]”
When Eric coached, he was a strong proponent of making a difference on the floor. Spencer remembers his dad always emphasizing hustle, defense, getting the ball into the right person’s hands, being a playmaker; it wasn’t all about scoring. His high school stat books show Eric played largely in that way too.
But perhaps most importantly, Eric was a playmaker in life. His family described him as unassuming and levelheaded. But he made big plays by always serving, loving, giving back and contributing. That’s what Kim, Spencer and Andrew hope this fund in his memory will continue to do even now.
To donate to the Eric Fox Memorial Fund, please send checks made out to Spokane Hoopfest (memo line: Eric Fox Memorial Fund) to PO Box 599, Spokane, WA 99210 or contact the office at (509) 624-2414.