Veteran inspires son to drive on: Father encourages athlete on and off the rink

For many athletes on campus, the celebration of Veterans Day carries an added sense of importance. One of these athletes is Liberty hockey defenseman Nate Cox, who takes the ice regularly for the men’s D1 team. 

Cox’s father, Brian Cox, was a Special Forces Army Ranger for 11 years, and his brother, Ryan, is currently serving in the Ranger Battalion. A graduate of Liberty’s ROTC program, Ryan also donned the D1 hockey Flames sweater for four seasons (2017-2021), accumulating 18 goals in his years spent in the LaHaye Ice Center. 

When Cox looks back, gratitude fills his heart for the courage his dad displayed as a service member. The traits that it takes for an individual to put his life on the line for his country are things that Cox’s father has impressed on his children from a young age.   

“My dad pushed me and my brother super hard,” Cox said. “He taught us to just give it everything you got in everything that you do. Being able to serve people and do anything for other people is what I learned too, just going out of your way to help people. At the end of the day, we’re all here to serve God.”

While Cox’s aspirations in life are to be a teacher and serve the upcoming generation, the lessons he has learned from his father have shaped him as a person. They also come in handy for the defenseman who is striving to be his best on the ice. 

“My dad, he always said, ‘Suck it up and drive on,’” Cox said. “He’s always trying to drive on. In hockey he told me, ‘If you’re hurt, get up.’ Growing up, I broke my leg, and the first thing that went to my head was, ‘Get up, get up.’ I got up twice, but then eventually couldn’t. But it’s that motivation to just push through everything.”

Cox displayed this drive when he and the Flames overtook a tough Ohio University team on the ice on Veterans Day with a 5-2 rout. But before he graced the rink that day, the defenseman made sure to acknowledge the respect he holds for what heroes like his father have done. 

“I called my dad (on Veterans Day) and had a 30-minute conversation with him just thanking him for everything he did for us. … It hits home for me, just thanking them.”

Cory is the head sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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