Cedar Bluff turns back to Cox, Walker to lead girls athletic programs

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CEDAR BLUFF – Cedar Bluff is turning to a pair of familiar faces to help guide their girls sports programs.

Following the recent transition of Garrett Crane from head softball to head football coach, the school has announced the hiring of Deidra Cox as its new volleyball and girls basketball coach.

Mandy Walker, who was the Lady Tigers’ former head softball coach and an assistant to Crane, takes on the role of head softball coach again.

Cox was originally the volleyball coach of the Lady Tigers in 2016. The former Deidra Davis guided the team to a 21-23 record and a North Super Regional appearance in Huntsville.

Cox has also had head softball coaching stops at Class 7A schools Foley for five years and this past year at Albertville.

But Cox is best known for her playing days at Cherokee County High School.

As a basketball forward/guard, she averaged 10.2 points per game as a junior and 11.8 points as a senior. She was named all-county first team from 2008-11 and all-area three consecutive seasons (2008-10). She was a member of the U.S. Junior Nationals Alabama Team in 2009.

Cox was also a member of the Lady Warrior softball program, where she garnered all-county honors in 2009. She helped the program earn five straight Cherokee County tournament and area championships, along with back-to-back Northeast Regional crowns in 2010 and 2011.

Cox went on to Jacksonville State and played one season of basketball.

Cox will be taking over the volleyball coaching duties from Lyndsey Mullins and the girls basketball reigns from Katie McGinnis. She is anxious to begin working with both squads this summer.

“Cedar Bluff has held a special place in my heart from my year there. I absolutely loved it,” she said. “There are great and wonderful people there. The kids there are awesome. Coach (Torey) McDaniel and Coach (Jonathan) McWhorter are doing awesome things at that school and in that community. Just for them to give me the opportunity to be a part of it is so special. I’m so grateful for that.

“I’m going to spend this summer getting to know this group of girls and build relationships with them. That’s huge as a coach to have those relationships with those kids. There are a couple of girls I know from the last time I was here. They weren’t old enough to be playing yet. They were in those younger grades, but that’s what’s so awesome about a K-12 school, being able to see those kids when they’re that young.”

Cox is also grateful to be back closer to home. Her husband Ryan is a native of the Heflin area.

“It’s one of those things where you move off, you learn a lot, you enjoy the time, but you know when it’s time to go back home,” Cox said. “We felt like this was that time.”

Cox isn’t the only former Cedar Bluff coach the Tigers are turning to lead one of their programs.

Walker originally coached the softball team from 2014-18, including three consecutive berths in the North Regional Tournament in Huntsville. She’s helped Crane the past few seasons as an assistant and hopes to pick up where he left off.

“We’ve come a long way in that time and I’ve enjoyed every minute of helping Coach Crane. It’s been a fun ride,” Walker said. “I’m excited to see where we can go from here. We’ve got a good foundation. Coach Crane did a great job, and I’m excited for him and his new endeavor.”

Walker, a 2000 graduate of Cedar Bluff, is hoping the experience she’s had the past few years as head coach and as an assistant to Crane have helped make her a better coach today.

“I had some issues with my health there for a little while and two young kids. Rylie will be in the 10th grade and Paityn will be in the seventh grade, so that’s going to help me. I expect that will be a lot better having them there with me.

“I’ve seen a lot of things that maybe I wasn’t confident in during the first go-around (as a head coach). I’ve seen some things I’m going to do a little differently (from the first time) that I think our girls will like and react to.”

Like Cox, Walker is anxious to take things to another level.

“I knew we were headed toward special things back then and it’s really come to fruition,” Walker said. “It hasn’t been that state title that we’ve hoped for, but we’re hoping to keep pushing these kids toward that goal.”

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