Girls Track

Hebron's Fox draws inspiration from her brother

2012-04-23T19:00:00Z 2013-05-13T21:56:47Z Hebron's Fox draws inspiration from her brotherBy Jim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

Runners draw their motivation from different sources.

Liz Fox only has to look far as big brother P.J.

"He's my role model," the Hebron freshman said. "He's had a big impact in my running."

A four-sport athlete who earned 13 letters at Hebron, P.J. broke the school record in the 800-meter run and placed seventh in the event in the state in 2002. He earned a scholarship to Louisville, where he placed sixth in the Conference USA Championships as a freshman and broke that school record as a redshirt sophomore.

A hamstring injury hampered his junior season and he struggled through his senior year due to what was subsequently diagnosed as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In remission once, Fox relapsed with what had become leukemia. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in December 2008 and has now been in remission for roughly three years.

"Things are good, all things considered," Fox said.

Fox is also back at Hebron, where he is coaching the distance runners, including his sister.

"Whenever I have a hard day or I don't want to wake up, I think about him, how he had it worse," Liz said. "It's nothing compared to what he's been through."

Hawks coach Rhonda Walker, whose daughter graduated with P.J., is happy to have him back at the school, not to mention feeling better.

"It's a win-win situation, good for us and I think good for him," Walker said. "P.J. has a smile that can light up a room and Liz kind of does the same thing. There's no question she's out there in part because he's such an inspiration. She's a hard worker. She's pretty self-driven and a lot of that goes back to P.J."

A middle distance runner like her brother, Liz runs in the 400 to 1,600 range and has also taken to the 100 hurdles.

"She's probably one of those kids we could put in a number of things and couldn't go wrong," Walker said. "Being a small school, it's what we've got to do. We have to spread the wealth."

Liz doesn't mind. Seven years in gymnastics, where she reached Level 6 before her sports plate became too full, developed her strength and athleticism.

"They can actually put me anywhere," she said. "I love to do the hurdles. We only have two hurdlers. I tried it and I'm actually pretty good at it, so I stayed with it. My brother says I'd be perfect to do the 800 because it's speed and endurance. He wants to put me in the open 400 sometimes, too."

Having a sibling as a coach isn't without its challenges, but Liz sure wouldn't trade it.

"It can be hard sometimes," she said. "We're so far apart (13 years), we never fight. We're really close. He helps me with my running a lot. He knows what I should be doing. He's made me a better runner. He says I'm actually better than him. That means a lot to me."

And P.J. doesn't say that just to be nice.

"She's really gifted," he said. "I'm excited to see how she develops. I'm so fortunate not only to be helping coaching my old school, but my sister. It's so rewarding. Honestly, they've helped me more than I've helped them."

Liz now hopes to follow in his footsteps.

"Since he didn't really get to finish his college career, I want to do that for him," she said. "I'd like to go to college like he did. It would be cool to go to a school like Louisville. He loves to watch me run and I'd like to give that to him."

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