January 8, 1999
Jan. 8, 1999 – He’s not too comfortable with the term perfection, but you’d be hard pressed to call it anything else. Nearly a 4.0 grade-point-average in computer science engineering. A U.S. National team member that has already qualified for the 1999 World Championships in Hong Kong. School record holder in the 200 meter individual medley. So what would you call it? For Ohio States Jason Fox, who competes in the 200 individual medley, breaststroke and 100 butterfly, he’s doing no more than he personally expects. “I budget my time wisely and make the tough decisions,” he said. “I don’t want to give anything less than my best.” Fox, a junior from Goshen, Ind., is more methodical than perfectionist. Once he sets his goals, he works diligently to achieve them. “Jason is so dedicated and hard-working,” said Buckeye head coach Bill Wadley. “He’s also very coachable and teachable. He wants to be good.” Realizing he wasn’t as fast as last season, Fox balanced the rigors of studying and practicing. His times in the 200 individual medley have gotten increasingly better as the team heads into the most competitive part of its schedule. Likewise, his times in the 100 butterfly and 200 breaststroke have also improved. His best times for the season include a 1:52.56 in the 200 IM, :51.33 in the 100 butterfly and 2:07.24 in the 200 breaststroke. He hopes to continue refining his times to achieve another of his goals, winning the 200 IM at the Big Ten Championships, after placing second last year. Then, he has his sights set on becoming an All-American in an individual event. “Failure really isn’t an option,” Wadley said. “Jason is a goal-setter who won’t stand for anything other than excellence.” The relationship between Wadley and Fox has taken on a multidimensional role. No longer really confined to strict definitions of coach and athlete, Fox considers Wadley an integral source of motivation and a well-spring of belief in his talents. “Bill is one of the best technical coaches I have ever had,” Fox said. “He has helped improve certain aspects of my stroke. He is also a very good motivator, both at meets and at practices. He knows how to fire me and the rest of the team up, even for two-a-day practices.” “I can’t say enough about Jason,” said Wadley. “Quite simply, he embodies everything a student-athlete should be.” Still struggling with what to call his achievements? No matter how long the list of honors is, Fox’s modesty always takes over. He is quick to point out his own weaknesses. “I have trouble with being a vocal team leader,” Fox said. “I dont perceive myself as that. I would rather lead by example.” That example would include his achievements since he arrived at Ohio State. In addition to placing second and setting a school record in the 200 individual medley at the Big Ten Championships last year, Fox was also a member of the winning 400 medley relay team that set a Big Ten record. At the end of the year, he was named all-Big Ten, honorable mention All-America and academic all-Big Ten as well as receiving the team’s Most Improved Swimmer award. When the summer began, Fox thought about setting another goal: swimming for the U.S. National team. “My goal was to make the team,” Fox said. “Bill told me my goal was within reach, so I trained all summer. It is a privilege I am not taking lightly.” Call Fox modest. Call him dedicated. Call him focused. But don’t call him bitter. He doesn’t hold a grudge against the professor who gave him the A- during his freshman year. It made him study harder and, since that class, he’s had nothing but a perfect GPA. “It was an engineering graphics class that brought me down,” Fox elaborated. “I was advised to take a lower sequence of classes, but I chose to take the more difficult route. The professor who gave me the grade saw me after I did an interview with a Columbus paper and apologized, but I told him it was okay. I no longer had to live with the pressures associated with being a perfect 4.0 student. “I made the commitment to focus all my homework time on that class. It taught me the necessity of studying hard and applying myself. I don’t hold a grudge against that professor. In fact, I thanked him for teaching me the lesson I needed.” Wadley knows Fox’s talents. “He doesn’t cut corners,” Wadley said. For that reason, neither of them is too surprised that Fox is successfully negotiating the labyrinth of academics and athletics. “My biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to the college academic workload while stepping up to training at this level,” Fox said. “The habits and groundwork were laid in high school for working hard, so I was able to take that to another level once I got to Ohio State.” He is reaching his goals due to a simple formula he has established. Once he figures out what he wants, he plans, practices and perseveres until he achieves. For that reason, he is able to embody his own definition of success, which is “doing the most with the talent God gives you.” Still perplexed with what to call him? Settle for thinking of him as a successful student-athlete. School and conference record-holder. U.S. National team member. Add to that dedicated, hardworking and modest. Too good to be true? Perhaps. But don’t tell Jason Fox. He’s working too hard on achieving another goal.