By TREY STEWART
FUTURE STARS: Jim Cox, center, at a Hardwood basketball camp this summer. Many of the attendees at Cox’s camps have gone on to be high school and college stars.
TREY STEWART for GTR Newspapers
Everyday millions of Americans commute to their respective professions for the purpose of earning money and maintaining an acceptable quality of life, but as the new millennium progresses toward an ever-growing propensity for building capital, one would be hard pressed to find an individual working simply for the passion of the occupation.
While many in the job world find their occupations fulfilling, there are few who can say that they have followed through with their passions and dreams. Jim Cox of Hardwood Productions is one of the fortunate who has.
Cox is the founder and general manager of Hardwood Productions, a company that has been organizing youth basketball tournaments since 1998.
For Cox, the daily grind of the workplace is not an agitating necessity but an opportunity to pursue his life’s passion, and for over 15 years he has been motivating Tulsa’s youth to do that very same thing.
Hardwood Productions organizes tournaments exclusively in Tulsa. It has been very successful in bringing out-of-state teams to the city and developing regional networks of youth basketball throughout neighboring states.
“We have a basketball family that encompasses coaches, players and parents from all over Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas,” says Cox. “We, along with our dedicated game officials, are all a band of brothers.”
Cox has been involved in basketball since childhood, playing for Tulsa’s Bell Junior High and Nathan Hale High School where he graduated in 1966. After high school, Cox attended Northeastern State University and played for legendary coach Dr. Jack Dobbins before eventually transferring to and graduating from the University of Tulsa.
After his collegiate athletic career, Cox ended up working in the natural gas industry, but he never lost his passion for basketball. As vice president of marketing and supply for a large natural gas company, Cox had a successful career, financial security and excellent prospects for the future; a situation most people would be more than comfortable with. But for Cox, the natural gas business was a profession for which he had no passion or sense of fulfillment as he stepped into the office day after day.
After 18 years in the natural gas industry, it was obvious that a change had to be made. “Working in the natural gas business was just a job, I didn’t have any passion for it,” says Cox. During this time he also coached with the nationally renowned Tulsa Hawks, which served to increase his passion for basketball. Former Tulsa Hawks’ players include Jason Parker, Dante Swanson, Eric Coley, Rod Thompson and Lee Mayberry to name just a few.
It occurred to him that his lifelong passion for basketball could be put to good use within the community. It was at this point that he left the natural gas business to begin focusing on developing youth sports in Tulsa, affording him the opportunity to benefit the local community while pursuing a lifelong dream.
Cox immediately became involved in the development of youth sports venues, founding Champions Athletic Complex before forming Hardwood Productions.
The atmosphere at a Hardwood Productions tournament ensures that the sport of basketball is more than just a physical activity, but also a chance for young athletes to learn life lessons and to develop upstanding character. Cox hopes that anyone who participates in Hardwood events is passionate about the game of basketball, but his message goes beyond the court as he urges participants to pursue their passions in life, whatever they may be.
Cox said that oft times in youth basketball winning takes precedent over the spirit of the game, which can lead to inappropriate actions on the part of coaches, players and parents alike. Harwood Productions, however, does not tolerate that kind of behavior in any case.
When people begin to act out of line “we show them the door,” says Cox. For the good people at Hardwood, developing the character of Tulsa’s young athletes and the comradery and tradition of the sport is far more important than wins and losses. As long as Cox is involved in Tulsa’s youth sports, one can rest assured that finding young people who will maintain the pursuit of their life passions will become all the easier.
Perhaps the spirit of Hardwood Productions is summarized most aptly by Cox himself: “Hardwood is simply a tremendous blessing. It’s all about the kids. Find your passion in life and success will follow you.” As long as Cox is involved with Tulsa’s youth, success will never be in short supply.
Since 1998, Hardwood Productions has hosted 7,516 teams and 15,571 games and is looking forward to the future. The next tournament, the Hardwood Back-2-School Showdown, is scheduled July 25-27 at the Oral Roberts University Aerobics Center. With 14 more tournaments scheduled over the next year, 2008-2009 looks to be another exciting year for Harwood Productions. For more information on upcoming tournaments, visit Hardwood Productions Web site at www.hwood.com.