Steve has taught physical education at Watrous Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa for 30 years. He received a PFA grant in 1995 and has created a host of new games and activities that have been tested tried and true. His lesson plans are easy to implement, offer a variety of activities from ten minutes to forty five minutes in length. Most noteable is that these activities excite the students, challenge them and make fitness fun!

Steve Cox is a teacher of teachers. PFA was founded on the steadfast belief that if we give the best tools to teachers, they will create their best work. The work of Steve Cox is a testimony to this belief and our mission. Steve is the perfect selection to serve as our first official All Star Teacher of the Year 1999.

Congratulations Steve! As we begin 2000 we thank you for your leadership, dedication and care for the health and wellness of our nation's youth.


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All Star Update

2010 Update

Steve Cox, All Star Teacher 1999

Since becoming a PFA grant recipient teacher in 1996, my Phys Ed career has continued on an exciting and positive personal and professional journey. The PFA Station Equipment and PFA Philosophy caused me to experiment, dream and create more fitness programming both for PE Class and my ‘Beyond Phys Ed’ program.
This original work was recognized by Project Fit America in 1999 when I became their first National All Star Teacher.  The programs I created include Station Stars, Team Fit, Pacer Challenge, Fitness Cup Activities, Rope Jump Olympics, Tummy Toughy, Smile Runs, Weighted Hoops, Wall Charts, Lub Dup’r Running Club, PFA Word Wall, Huba Huba, Capture the Pins, Beat the Ball,  Parent Recorder/Helpers, Medicine Ball Lessons, Dumballs, TCC and Team Friendly/ Yellow Brick programs.
From 1999-2003, the year I retired, my Physical Education back here in Des Moines was getting cut more and more.  I found my total PE program was still evolving and growing with the help of PFA, my wonderful wife Cyndee, a small group of super dedicated parents, ( thanks Jan, Mindy, Julie, Keith, Christine, Joan and many others) great principals Jim Mitchell, Marilyn Wadden, and Barb Comito, Mercy Hospital and thousands of ‘Wanting-to-Run-Jump-Sweat’ kids.
In 2003 I decided to take my retirement and begin to work for PFA in earnest.  During those last years of teaching my PE program became even more Broad Based, Fitness Oriented and Fun  (I could truly address Strength Development so much more thoroughly now with the marvelous ‘Above Ground Weight Room’ the Stations created)! It was during this time all the programming I had created with PFA became polished and refined to the point of  PFA national curriculum development.   The PE program I had developed received a nice array of Newspaper and TV PR coverage, accolades and awards. These culminated with the  ‘First PFA National All Star Teacher Award’, a ‘Wal-mart Teacher of the Year Award, and the marvelous surprise, a week before retiring, of having an assembly where the school gymnasium was named after me.
An additional sidetrack during this time was the opportunity to travel to California and meet/present ideas and activities to the PFA Board and visionary founder Stacey Cook. I immediately found them to be progressive and enthused. PFA challenged me and asked…  “Do you think other schools can run these types of  programs you have created and change the PE experience for their students?”   I knew immediately the answer was yes they could and would!  I was then given the opportunity to travel to PFA schools all over the country and share “my brand” of programming. 

“The other side of life for this All Star Teacher”

I am not unlike most of you. We are a spoke in a bigger wheel and that wheel most often is our family….I could not do what I do, have become what I have become and have reached out with all the time, energy, commitment and determination without their love and support.

Here is my story.........

Wow…. Life just does keep coming at you. I was 52 when I was recognized as the first PFA National All Star teacher. I am 63 now. I retired after 33 years with the Des Moines School system, and became an in-service trainer for PFA and evolved to the National In-Service Director for this beloved program. I have truly enjoyed watching and helping it grow and serve the much diminished ‘fitness needs’ of American youth. My wonderful wife Cyndee and I celebrated our 41st year of marriage this June. She retired after 34 years of teaching ’Special Ed’ in the Des Moines Schools and said she went into ‘Spec Ed’ to better deal with me……. Funny girl! Our three sons are all grown and very busy with their own lives and careers.

My Three Sons

David (Number one son-the oldest) is a Veterinarian Major in the Army. He just finished a 4-year assignment in Yokosuka, Japan and is now stationed and working in the DC Metro area. Cyndee and I had the opportunity to visit him while stationed there. His work overseas for the military sent us on travels we never expected in our lives.

Traveling to Japan was a marvelous and moving experience. Japan was clean and beautiful, with crowded cities and transportation that was extremely efficient. The people were friendly and fit. Guess what I found out…Yes, I like sushi!! My son’s ability to speak Japanese (he took it in high school and college) made the trip so much easier. Visiting Tokyo, we toured the Emperor’s Palace, Mt Fuji, Gensa District, the Queen’s Woods and Ancient Shrines. It was just fascinating.
A stand out moment in time for this history minor and buff like me, was the day we spent going through the beautiful Hiroshima Peace Park/Monument and standing at ‘Ground Zero'. It was beyond moving. It was hours of ‘goose bumps’, tears, deep reflection and exhilaration. My father is ninety one (91) years old and was in the Navy in WW2. He served in England, France and told us he most likely would have been shipped to the Pacific theater. History is so real, raw and educational.

David married a Filipina nurse (Jennifer) in Angeles City, Philippines last October. Cyndee and I flew through and around two typhoons to attend. We landed in Manila and rode 3 hours south to Angeles. Visiting the Philippines was also a moving experience. It is a beautiful, bountiful and lush land. However, I found the infrastructure of life, land management, development, city and government philosophy/implementation and the basic amenities of modern living are sorely lacking.
It was a rude and powerful wakening for this “60 something year old” growing up in the heartland of America’s similarly lush, bountiful, beautiful Iowa. I can assure you that there is no need for amusement park rides after you have ridden their crowded, keystone-cops-like streets in a Jeepney or cycle side-car! We did both and what a rush…. but I in all the time there…I never saw an accident….go figure!

Busy, fit, impoverished people living in highly competitive, crowded, poor sanitary conditions. The obvious ‘organized’ business with the employment of baby-face young children/beggars was simply gut-wrenching. We gave them food but were instructed to never give money as the children are being used for organized crime.   Cyndee and I stuck out like a sore thumb and were constantly approached.  We would always order extra food and make sure we had some to give to these kids.

The Wedding
Volcano Penatoba was always visible where ever we were. It was large, lovely and calm hanging over the city during our stay. Mounds of ash from its most recent eruption were still piled on many empty lots and vacant corners. Their wedding was in a 150 year old Catholic Church and new in-laws were handsome, friendly folks. Few could speak English and I could not speak Tagalog. We all gestured and smiled a lot. It was kind of like communicating with one of PFA Trainer’s, Ken Chambless, from Newnan, Georgia! Inside joke….Ken is a phenomenal trainer but never misses a chance to give this “PFA Santa Claus” a run for his money!!!

Besides the joyous wedding and reception and this meeting our new in-laws……my lasting memory of the Philippines will be the conflicting battle of beauty, bounty, bustling life and stark poverty.

Hug your kids, take em’ for a bike ride, vote, pay your taxes and thank God you live in this country! OK, off the soap box!

Spencer-(My number two son and middle child)

Spencer owns and runs, from the ground floor up, a rather large vending business. He and his wife Stephanie have given us four grandchildren. Logan 8 1/2, Kennedy 7, Tatum 4 and Harper 6 months. Talk about busy! I would always crawl into their rooms as babies and softly chant/sing, “Boom - Boom - Boom - Boom”. Thus I have been named “Grandpa Boom Boom”.
Now let me tell you ….. I can easily handle a class of 28 second graders on a Friday afternoon the day before Christmas Vacation…. But it is a real challenge for me to manage my four grandkids at once! Thank goodness for Cyndee. Yes I can change a diaper but I still periodically put them on backwards.

TJ ( My third and youngest son-32)

TJ has recently completed his Masters Degree in Counseling. He has worked as a counselor for ‘Wayward Teenage Boys’ in a highly restricted environment. (Very educational and intense) and been a counselor in Middle and High Schools. He recently took a job as the High School Counselor in a small town about 50 miles from Des Moines. TJ plays tennis and golf and fly fishes for hobbies and is an assistant tennis pro in the summer. He is also the assistant football coach. It should be a very interesting and exciting year for our busy bachelor.

TJ’s beloved Iowa Hawkeyes are expected to have another good football season and he and Spence go to as many games as they can. Major Cox (no pun intended), oldest brother David, graduated college and Vet school at arch-rival Iowa State. Some good natured and heated debates explode from this scenario. But they always take me to the opener….. FUN!

I have taken TJ, Spencer and even Stephanie with me on several of my PFA in-services around the nation. They were all great high school and college athletes and they are very pro fitness and supporters of my work with PFA. Spence and TJ have seen and helped enough with PFA in-services that they could present one and have been recommended as substitute teachers for PFA. As coaches and teachers and big supporters and can successfully implement the PFA- TCC/ Team Friendly philosophy (Teamwork, Communication, Cooperation) that is corner stone is all PFA activities! A few times in the last decade, the boys and I have managed to get away to the deep mountains of Montana/Idaho for our beloved fly fishing. I always thought it was for fun, bonding and me to pay for most of the refreshments but I was told a year ago that the main reason they bring me is so they don’t have to outrun a Grizzly bear. What loving young men they have become!

The Grandkids/How times have changed/This PE Teacher’s take on it all

The grandkids are into all the activities that so many young, working parents find necessary these days: School, pre-school, vacation bible school, sports teams, dance, gymnastics, overnights, B-day parties etc, etc. Most of it is highly organized and structured and it makes me kinda glad I am not raising youngsters in this fast paced world today.

I long for the more unstructured, movement education, free-play experiences for little ones. Sadly, time, open space and truly safe play settings are not as readily available to today’s youth as they were for my generation. I greatly lament this fact and am painfully aware of the plethora of physical, social, mental and emotional foundation and growth that this generation of kids never experience because of their lack of exposure to blissful hours of free, safe, creative, outdoor/indoor play. Wow, there I go back on that soap box again!

Perhaps this is part of the reason God makes grandparents and semi-retirement leisure time. This status often allows Cyndee and I the time to create some of those experiences with the rug rats. We: go fish, chase frogs, catch worms, paddle boats, build bird houses (Logan and Kennedy each have their own saw-horse in our back yard), build tree houses, skip rocks, make and shoot bows and arrows, make and shoot sling-shots, walk in the woods, run dogs, catch fire flies, play cards, paint outdoor furniture, build and use their own bug nets, light sparklers, play guitar, tie fish flies, wrap fishing rods, build snow forts, have snow ball fights, rake leaves and jump in the piles, build snow men, make campfires and cook smores, stack fitness cups, walk on stilts, swing on tire swings, scoop dog poop, make monster soup with the mud and gunk, garden, saw branches and clip bushes, count seconds between lightning and thunder, sneak up on rabbits and deer, get out and look at road kill, (Lots of questions there!), spot shooting stars, wrestle/tickle/dance, look out for cop cars, play in the sandbox, play tennis-golf in back yard, play homerun derby in back yard and learn to put on your own band aids. Gee, Cyndee and I are just pooped sometimes. Much, most of this play is rather spur-of-the-moment. Kennedy (7) can easily take a group of peers and organize and lead (a little bossy at times) some creative activity. Hhmm … so could her dad as a youth. I just like to expose them to a very wide variety of physical activity.

Walking the walk/talking the talk

I did put my foot down and insisted that Spence and Stephanie get rid of the ‘electric car’ Logan received as a gift from someone. I just completely loathe seeing young, healthy, innocent, moldable American youth sitting on their sooner-to-be-fat-butts, burning no calories, driving a damn car at age 3. When I see that, I jump right to, “How blind and ignorant can parents become?” No wonder this generation of kids (youth 30 and under) is the first not expected to out-live their parents. The Big 4 S’s, ‘Sugar, Salt, Soda, Sedentary', bother me even more when they are close to my ‘Home'. I bought Logan a little peddle car to replace it. Logan, Kennedy and Tatum have all enjoyed hours and hours of great free play pumping that little thing all around our drive-way and sidewalk. Logan can parallel park it in reverse in a small coned off area and can also reverse back it with a wagon attached into a target spot. Kennedy…shall we say, can gleefully knock over cones and objects with it. But, she and Tatum thoroughly enjoy playing with it…..and they all have nice , strong legs!  I hope it holds for a couple more years so little Miss Harper can starting scooting too! G-kids are surely a joy and a challenge!

The 'Wind Beneath My Wings'-Cynthia Jean

Cynthia Jean and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary this June. Her parents celebrated their 63rd and Spence and Steph their 11th. We all go out during this special time to eat and have a great time yacking and reminiscing. This was Cyndee's first year of retirement after 34 years in Middle School Special education. Around January, she started subbing off and on and very much enjoyed the 'pick-and-choose' nature of being a sought-after substitute. Her calm, pleasant and professional disposition combined with her 'Multi-categorical Special Needs Skills', makes her a great fit for many teaching positions. She even taught Phys Ed a couple of times.

Cancer Survivor
For those that don't know, she is also a 44 year/ seven different types of cancer survivor. She is and has always been a non-smoker. She has had three skin cancers and four other major life threatening types. Her daily life, diet, movement and energy are significantly tied to the ramifications and medicines related to all. But to a stranger, you would not know it.

There was time when she was not expected to see our three sons graduate or be at the birth of Logan. But she is a loving, laugh-a-lot, cheerful trooper. She always had and still has a very strong faith and active personal acceptance and love of God. She has, of course, been very active in cancer research movements, causes, fundraising runs, etc., and has been a inspiration, confidant and source of hope and healing for so many peers. And she married and stays with me..... Go figure!

With her newly found increased time free at home, I have found the 'Honey Do List' to have grown considerably. Her love of gardening, landscaping and cozy home keeps she and I plenty busy. The house and yard are becoming quite quaint and very grandkid friendly. I do have kind of a man-cave-pit room in the basement for macho fishing/hunting building kinda stuff. However, she keeps looking at it periodically with a 'What can I do with this room look'! It scares me a little.
We do a lot with her parents ( Doc and Lois) and Spence, Steph and the kids. Even traveled with that whole crew, in a 32 foot RV out through Colorado, Idaho and Montana. What an experience …......... AIN'T gonna do that again!

Going to the dogs!

Two dogs are still with us. Floozie and Harley. Cyndee and I put down our beloved Toby (yellow lab) last Fall. We were with him at the end and it was one of the toughest things we have ever done. I become more of an old softie as I age. The boys kid me about it a lot now.

Floozie (Gordon Setter) is rather a guy-dog and is very take-it-or-leave-it cat-like toward Cyndee. Cyndee looks at Floozie much of the time with the same 'glue-factory' look she reserves for my man-cave . Floozie is fortunately too stupid to recognize it. I am very attached to poor old Floozie. The name???? She is all black with a little bit of brown.... kind of an anti-blonde. Thus the name Floozie. Harley is a bundle of energy/joy Cavaschon, a Bischon/King Charles Cavilier cross. He is very sweet and playful. When it is rest time he'll be in Cyndee's lap or at her feet. He is in good standing with Cyndee and is much brighter than Floozie and seems to realize it. Our busy existence with work, family, friends, church, play and home keeps rollin' on.

Where am I now?

Adulthood and older age, sports and ignorance has blessed me with three knee surgeries, one elbow surgery, two broken ankles, broken nose, two broken fingers, rotator cuff surgery and a bloody nose or two. Yea, I'd do most all of it again. Gave up organized basketball at age 50. Cried a little about it and got over it in a year or two. Besides family and PFA, I spend of lot of fun time such as playing guitar, writing a few songs and performing at different functions, tie flies and build custom fishing rods and I present at seminars and post tutorials periodically on rodbuilding.

I read educational, outdoor, fitness, philosophy and poetry books, fly fish every chance I get and once I hit 60 started playing a lot of tennis again. If you are tall and can still volley and move a little, you become a valuable age group double's tennis player. I have been lucky and fortunate enough to have been on eight different state champion double's team these last three years. We have gone to the mid-western regional in St Louis, Springfield and Oklahoma City. Poor old Iowa teams get whipped most of the time but it burns a few calories and older athletes usually display a wonderful combination of healthy competition and friendly camaraderie.

It's truly a lot of fun......EXCEPT when you have an arterial fibrillation, which I did, in Oklahoma City in100 degree heat. After an overnight stay in the hospital, a couple of fitness tests and a few green pills and I was ok to play in one day. I still take the green pill once a day and have been fine. I tell Cyndee the green pill is for something else and she generally just tells me, “ That's nice dear”. You just can't fool those 'Special Ed' teachers!

I teach tennis part time at the beautiful 'Des Moines Golf & Country Club'. I work mostly with the little rascals, kids 4-12 mostly. It is lots of fun and helps keep me on my toes. I take the dogs out for woods runs and I almost always take Floozie with me when I go fishing. She sits in the boat and sleeps a lot. I build special homemade 'Fish Habitat Bushes' for many of the ponds I fish and I usually make a custom fishing rod for the pond owners. I have some lovely, great fishing, private farm ponds and good friends from this net working and from some PFA In-Services too!

Fishing/Hunting and the Department of Natural Resources

I thoroughly enjoy pond fly fishing from a boat for Bluegills and Bass. Bluegill from a clean pond is an absolute delicacy. With Floozie sleeping in the boat, I show her most of the fish I catch but she has been around Cyndee so much that mostly all she does is glance up and say, “That's nice dear." She is on her last legs and I have this dream of taking her to South Dakota for one last pheasant hunting trip. Southern Iowa, just a few short years ago, used to have phenomenal pheasant hunting. Farming practices ……(I'm going to catch some flack for this)….and our Department of Natural Resources have REALLY dropped the ball on this. I hope they get their heads out of the sand and seriously address it. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen fast enough for Floozie and probably me...... so.....I hope we get to South Dakota this year.

Old, lovable Toby will certainly be looking down rooting for 'Boom Boom and Floozie'. The boys and I and a few old buddies from high school have networked for years befriending and helping farmers in beautiful Southern Iowa. I have farmer friends in places where I have been hunting since the early 60's.... wow, am I old! Although the quail and pheasants are basically gone, the massive Whitetails are thriving. I usually take one a year, drag it home, hang it in a shed in the back yard, take some pictures, show it to the grandkids, spend a fortune to have it processed and then Floozie, TJ and I eat it. Yes, I always show it to Cyndee and of course she says, “ That's nice dear.” For those of you who have grown old hunting with a group of buddies for decades in below freezing weather, plodding through snow, legs cramping, falling on your butt, scraping through thorns and briars, telling lies and laughing your patooty off, you know it's both ritual and family reunion.

For those of you who don't..... (lots of thoughts flashing here). I better play it safe, so I'll just say, “I hope you are really enjoying what ever else you're doing and you ought to try some Iowa Whitetail venison.”

Giving Back

I periodically volunteer and do some PE in-services for church preschools around the city. The little rascals and the underpaid teachers are always so grateful for help, guidance and equipment. Some even have some federal or slush funds to pay me. I politely accept the money and then immediately endorse it back over to them to purchase much needed fitness equipment. I get kind of a warm, fussy feeling when I do that. For the last decade I have volunteered at 6:00 in the morning on most Tuesdays and Thursdays in the summer at a children's Horse Camp Ranch south of Des Moines. It is right in the heart of the beautiful 'Bridges of Madison County' area and very close to the birth place of the 'Duke' (John Wayne). Inner city and other kids from all over Iowa and the mid-west are sponsored to go. There is large pond and acres of wonderful hardwood Iowa timber. It is truly a lovely place and a great experience for the kids. I help teach kids to fish and I have been known to go there in the evenings and fly fish a little myself. This summer, I have been teaching tennis lessons in the morning most days and have not been able to go help at the ranch much..... so I supply the night crawlers. Help where you can!

The surprises in life

A couple of very nice surprise/awards came my way this spring. I received the 'Central Iowa Tennis Associations 'Lifetime Achievement Award'. And a few weeks later I was informed that I was going to be inducted into my high school’s -Lincoln High- 'Alumni Hall of Fame'. My body of work in education, 'Beyond Phys Ed Programming, coaching and youth development was highlighted. I have picked up a few nice awards and accolades along my career but being recognized/inducted by Lincoln High…with some other very prominent, outstanding heavy hitters… was very humbling, shocking and gratifying. I was and still am quite moved by this.

I had written a song for my 20th High School Reunion years ago and had little need to do it since that time. I brought it back out and played it for folks at the ceremony. It was quite a hit I was told and I am now supposed to work it up and put it on 'YouTube'. I'm still somewhat of a dinosaur with computers and digital gadgets and I stumble through little by little with the help of my sons and small children. Heck, I've been on 'FaceLift' for 6 months and I don't look any better yet!
But I am going to try to throw my 'Thinkin' Lincoln High' song on 'You Tube'. I'll keep you posted.

I just got a call from PFA that my first fall PFA in-service is coming up in two weeks down in the Kansas City area. Time to put on my PFA game face and get plans ready. I told Cyndee, I have finished one of my first blog and will be preparing for 'Fall Kick Offs'. She said, “That's nice dear."

Have a Fun-Fit-Day!!

Steve Cox

Click on the image above to view Steve's Family Slideshow

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