J'den Cox's Journey: Hickman
COLUMBIA - Before J'Den Cox put on a singlet for the University of Missouri or Team USA, he wore a singlet representing Hickman High School.
Former Hickman wrestling coach and current athletic director J.D. Coffman heard about Cox even before he step foot in Hickman.
"When he came up through the kid's club, he won a lot of kids state championships," Coffman said. "So I was real excited to have him in my program."
Cox's success translated to high school as well. He won four state championships and only lost three matches while at Hickman. Those three losses came during his freshman year.
Coffman said Cox's success as a high school wrestler is no surprise to him.
"Year after year, he continued to get stronger and more efficient with his technique. We knew he was destined for multiple state championships as long as he stayed focused," Coffman said.
People at Hickman also remember Cox for his personality off the mat.
"He's so easy to talk to one-on-one," said Cox's former teacher Robin Steinhaus. "He's very conscientious of other people. He's kind and that really shows in the way he interacts with everybody."
Cox still goes out of his way to help current wrestlers in the Hickman wrestling program.
"I think one of the biggest things the kids always remember is how friendly J'Den is. J'Den's willing to talk to everybody. J'Den's willing to help. J'Den is J'Den, and if you know J'Den at all, you know wrestling is an avenue for him to actually meet people and to get out there and work with others," current Hickman wrestling coach Dan Pieper said.
The wrestling coaches at Hickman use Cox as a role model for their current wrestlers.
"We follow J'Den throughout the year, every year. We put up all of his articles on the window in our room. We always, from afar, watch him," Pieper said.
Coffman, Steinhaus and Pieper agree Cox embodies what it's like to be a Hickman Kewpie.
"He continues to put a smile on his face, go out and give it his best effort every time and just have fun and that's what being a Kewpie is all about," Coffman said.