Fox Treats a World of Pain


Mason Day , Writer

“Any pain with that?”

The voice of Joe Fox sounds through the training room, as he ties up an ice bag for another athlete. When North has pain, they go to Fox.

Fox has been the athletic trainer at Oshkosh North since 2007. He was an athlete himself, playing football and track all four years in high school. Fox grew up dreaming of becoming a football player, and his decision to become an athletic trainer was influenced by his passion for sports and his parents wanting him to become a doctor or a teacher. Fox saw an athletic trainer as a perfect combination of all three occupations.

“I grew up wanting to become a football player. My mom always wanted me to be a teacher, and my dad wanted me to become a doctor, so I thought an athletic trainer was a good combination of all three,” Fox said.

Fox graduated from The University Of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005 and earned a graduate degree at the University Of Iowa in 2007. He works at North as an Ascension health care employee. The school district does not pay his salary.

Oshkosh North Athletic Director Craig Lieder has been appreciative of Fox ever since he started working at North in 2007.

“ Joe has a tremendous impact on all of our athletic programs. He gives athletes confidence, he has a good track record. “

The training room is located across from the weight room near the fieldhouse entrance and serves many purposes. It’s equipped with stationary bikes, hot packs, an ice bathtub, and hundreds of other equipment used for rehab programs and injuries for any athlete at North.

Sophomore Emma Schuttenhelm has used Fox as a great resource for her injuries since being at North.

“Without Joe, I wouldn’t have been able to play basketball for part of the season this year because I have back problems. During my season, he helped me with stretches and exercises to build my back muscles so I was able to play without pain,” Schuttenhelm said.

Fox believes the key to being a successful trainer is narrowed down to three keys: compassion, patience, and a sense of humor. Being able to connect with student-athletes is something Fox has always had a talent for, as well as his sarcastic jokes and comments.

A typical day for Fox can become very hectic, dealing with dozens of students in a day and sometimes a dozen at a time. Creating rehab programs, evaluating new injuries, helping athletes out with rehab exercises and attending home sporting events typically are the responsibilities Fox has when he’s at school.

Head Boys Basketball Coach Brad Weber appreciates the way Joe operates.

“ He teaches coaches and athletes the why, he’s going to tell you why your injury happened and why you should rehab the way you are.”

The most common injuries to occur for athletes at Oshkosh North are ankle sprains, finger sprains, concussion and pulled muscles, and every injury has a detailed rehab program that Fox custom makes to ensure every athlete returns to play as healthy as possible.

Not all injuries at North are easy fixes, and some of them are harder to manage than others for both Fox and athletes.

“The hardest injury to treat is an ACL tear just because it is a very long recovery process. It takes about a month after the injury to have surgery, and then at the minimum 5 or 6 months of rehab afterward, and some places require a full year of rehab,” Fox said

The importance Fox brings to all athletic programs at North hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Coach Weber shared just one unforgettable memory he has had with Fox in his years of coaching.

“In 2009 he came with us to our state tournament in which we won our first game, and had to play the very next night. Back at the hotel, he turned his room into the ice bathroom, and he waited for every guy that wanted an ice bath to get one. Giving up his hotel room to get us ready for the next night. His selflessness and his ability to educate coaches and players is a next level talent he possesses,” Weber said.

What many people don’t know is that before he arrives at school in the afternoon, a few times a week he attends orthopedic clinics in the morning to learn about new rehab programs, fitting leg braces, new exercises, or even performing CPR.

Fox’s commitment to North doesn’t stop after the school year ends. During the summer he runs a speed and agility program for youth athletes three times a week through Ascension, and during the fall he attends home football games for Oshkosh Norths youth program. Fox also mentors a student from UW-Oshkosh every sports season, teaching him/her the keys to being an athletic trainer.

Fox has handled the workload of two trainers with incredible success, and Oshkosh North Athletic Director Craig Lieder recognizes that.  

“ What he says, you know you’ll do 100% because he’s done it with so many other kids successfully. I truly believe Joe is one of the best athletic trainers in the state of Wisconsin. Starting on July 1, 2019, North will have a second athletic trainer on staff to accompany Joe in the training room,” Lieder said.

The athletic trainer has not been hired yet by Ascension at this time.

The dedication Fox has had to his job and finding the best interest for his athletes is something North will be forever grateful for, as a few coaches, athletes and staff members have said above.

Next time you see Fox on the sidelines of a Friday night football game or handing out ice after a track meet, appreciate his endless dedication and passion to every athletic program at North.