For DeSales' Cox, honor is 'a team thing'

DeSales baseball coach Kim Cox and longtime assistant Rob Holtzinger are being inducted into the Washington Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame Saturday at Safeco Field, but Cox is quick to give credit to h

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DeSales head baseball coach Kim Cox cradles the game ball from his 500th coaching victory as he is surrounded by his players following the milestone victory over Dayton in this file photo from May 1, 2007.

WALLA WALLA - DeSales baseball coach Kim Cox and assistant Rob Holtzinger enjoyed much success in the previous couple of decades.

The Irish program has claimed 15 of its 16 Class B state championships with Cox and Holtzinger in charge.

Cox also coached DeSales to a state crown in 1989 and has won more than 500 games in his career.

It is, in part, because of these towering achievements that Cox and Holtzinger will be inducted into the Washington Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Saturday at Safeco Field in Seattle.

"I've never been a fan of awards and things," Cox said. "We don't give them out on our team. We believe everything that is accomplished is a team thing. I see this situation exactly the same. We've had great former players that were in this program who were selfless.

"I'm very pleased that Rob is being inducted," Cox said. "That, to me, is the most special thing about the whole ordeal.

"We've had great parents who were extremely supportive and still friends today," Cox said. "These are great blessings that you get to experience along the way. No one thought we were doing anything special. We try to get better every day. That's been the key in action.

"We have some great relationships with people (teams) we've played," Cox said. "They played us (because) they respected us, how they were treated, and felt they were going to get a challenge that day."

Holtzinger, who stepped down at the end of the 2009 season, described his tenure as an assistant as an "unbelievable experience."

"Coaching with Kim has been remarkable," Holtzinger said. "I've been able to be a part of watching a man build a program that was something special. We got to coach a lot of kids with a lot of talent who wanted to get better."

Mark Graves, who will be entering his seventh year in the program and fourth as a varsity assistant, has two sons who played for Cox that were part of seven championship teams in the last decade.

"How do you comment on those guys?" Graves asked. "They are two of the most unbelievable baseball coaches I've ever been around. I know they are humbly receiving the awards.

"Kim loves baseball and the traditions of the game," Graves said. "They (Cox and Holtzinger) have left a life-long impression with former players.

Like Mike Postlewait, Dave Meliah and Pat Graham. Postlewait played for four title winners from 1992-95.

"To me he was a very tough, but very fair coach," Postlewait said of Cox. "I considered it a privilege to play for his team during high school. What amazes me the most is coach Cox's ability to produce a quality team year in and year out. Any coach may have success when he has talented players, but Kim has the ability to turn average players into great program guys.

"Holtzinger was an infield coach at DeSales when I was playing," Postlewait said. "His ability to share his baseball knowledge with players was outstanding.

"I have also had the pleasure to coach with both Kim and Holtz," Postlewait said, "and have come to the realization that not only are they able to teach the game of baseball, but they teach young boys how to become men. And that is more important than the game. It is a well-deserved honor for both Kim and Rob to be recognized for their contributions to high school baseball and to the many players they have helped mold over the years."

Meliah, currently the head baseball coach at Walla Walla Community College, was a varisty teammate of Postlewait's from 1993-95.

"Both of those guys mean a lot to me personally," Meliah said. "I learned a lot about responsibility for my own actions. They've played a huge part in my life."

Graham, who guided the DeSales football team to the Class 2B-11 state semifinals this past fall, was on both the 1989 and 1992 baseball rosters.

"The one thing that impresses me the most about coach Cox is that even though he has had all this success, he is always so humble," Graham said. "He deflects the credit for the baseball program's success to those around him.

"He has always had a tremendous passion for the game and a drive to be the best," Graham said. "Even after all the wins and state titles, he is still dedicated to being the best at what he does and is never satisfied with being average. It is evident with every one of his teams that takes the field. Kim is going to get the best out of his players and push them beyond their limits as a team.

"We respected him so much because he would never let you be satisfied as a player or person," Graham said. "He always pushed you to compete, he would continually find ways to challenge you. Just when you thought (you'd) met the challenge, he would motivate you to go further."

Hall-of-Fame inductee Wayne Dickey, who coached Cox at DeSales in the 1970s and is the current mentor at Touchet, offered praise for his former player and fellow coach.

"He had all the qualities of an outstanding baseball player," Dickey said of Cox, who played center field for the Irish. "He covered a lot of ground. He was a good on-base guy with good speed.

"They are a class act with the quality of coaches and players they have," Dickey said of DeSales. "They are obviously the class act of the Class B baseball programs."

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