When John Fox first began coaching Ulverstone's senior men's basketball team in 1999, he believed he was way out of his depth. Never a player himself, but rather a dedicated referee with experience as an assistant coach, Fox thought the duo who offered him the position were "out of their minds". However, being an "opportunity too good to give up" Fox made the plunge into the senior coaching role and has not looked back - until now. The long-time servant of the NWBU has decided to close his Coastal basketball chapter, with the 2023 season his last at the helm of the Redhoppers. With humble beginnings on the benches of North-West basketball stadiums, Fox said the game had totally changed his life. "I feel very privileged and overall it has been fantastic. It's a great game," Fox said. "I loved almost every minute of it, with Robert [Burke] and Sid [Sidebottom] bringing me to [senior coaching] at Ulverstone." Having served as head coach of the Redhoppers' men's team for the past five years, following a previous five-year stint with the club's women's side, Fox has also coached plenty of junior and under 22 basketball during his time. Starting out as a referee, Fox said he first picked up the whistle in the early 1980s. "In 1977 I was tracking my future wife who was a player and got involved with a circle of other coaches, players and referees. It went from there basically," he said. "A good friend of mine Graham Kent, who was the best referee in Tassie, threw me a whistle one day when they were short. In 1985 I started Coastal umpiring." It seemed Fox found his calling as a referee, travelling across not only Australia but to the US several times for the sport. Getting involved in the coaching side of things, Fox said he has remained a loyal Redhopper, apart from a three-year stint with Somerset's senior women's program. Leading Ulverstone's men's team to an NWBU title in 1999, Fox said he has enjoyed riding the highs and lows of the game. "We snuck into finals on the last game. We won our first final, semi-final and then the grand final," he said. "I thought this is alright, but of course the challenge is to stay up there." Deciding earlier this year that his time at the top was up, Fox said he would always remember the friendships made both on and off the court. "I got halfway through this year and thought I wasn't enjoying it. I love game night but was starting to struggle with the preparation. It shocked me actually but I think the time is right," he said. "I've made many friendships from other clubs, right along from Smithton to Latrobe, meeting people I otherwise wouldn't have. "The biggest thing I've enjoyed is staying in contact with the kids, who're now adults, who've gone to America for college and have come back now to play in the national league." Fox will be succeeded in 2024 by Nick Cooper, who has coached the Redhoppers' under 22 men's side for the past three seasons.