Tom Fox ’95 appreciates adages. One of his favorites: “God writes straight with crooked lines.”
As Fox looks at his life, he realizes the truth of the statement, that all are guided spiritually to an end that sometimes takes a winding route.
Fox grew up in Lakewood, down the street from St. Luke’s. In grade school, he frequently went to track meets to watch his older brother Pat ’86 run the 800-meters for Saint Ignatius. Tom decided in second or third grade that was where he would go to high school. Eventually, he earned four letters in track and three in basketball en route to being selected in 2022 to the school’s athletic hall of fame.
“I remember walking the back hall at the Sullivan Gymnasium and looking at the names on the wall – (Garry) Roggenburk ’58, (David) Demko ’52, (Tim) Vala ’76,” Fox says. “I dreamt of being up there with them.
“This is truly humbling, and I’m really grateful for it.”
As a senior, he averaged a double-double, scoring 20.6 points with 11.2 rebounds while setting the school record at the time for blocked shots. In his junior year, Fox averaged 13.8 points and seven rebounds for a district title team.
Fox now lives in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where he settled after attending and playing basketball for Saint Francis University. He has shared some of the insights he’s gleaned on his journey in his book, “A Penny’s Thoughts: Sometimes All You need Is A Change of Perspective.” It offers insight from the point of view of the penny, and it works.
His author’s name is Tommy O’Sionnach, an honor to his grandparents’ family name in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland.
“We’re very strong in our Irish pride,” Fox says. “Our family name until about 1700 was O’Sionnach. The occupying English made us anglicize it to Fox, because it means ‘son of the fox.’ So when I wrote the book I decided to reclaim O’Sionnach as a pen name.”
Faith and family matter deeply to Fox, who says the rosary daily before work and credits the Holy Spirit for inspiring his book.
He considers it an honor that he wore the track jersey for his older brother and the basketball
jersey for his younger brother. Pat preceded him on the Wildcats’ track team; brother Pete ’98 followed him in basketball.
His father, John, is in the St. Edward High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a track runner and always urged his sons to go to the high school of their choice. His mother Jean’s father was named a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor given in the state by the governor. Fox’s daughter Bridgid plays basketball at Eastern Kentucky University. Maggie, a sophomore at Saint Francis, throws the javelin. And Jane is a sophomore at the high school and interested in theater.
“The first basketball game I saw for Ignatius was the 1987 team,” Fox says. “I knew right then I wanted to go there. I’ve been teaching social studies for 22 years, and for 10 years I’ve been teaching anthropology, the study of human beings.
“When I teach, I throw in a lot of Ignatian-type principles. Very subtly. I’m a big values guy, and that’s what Ignatius gave us.”