It wasn’t pretty when the boy raised in Sicklerville first tried his hand at roller hockey.
“He was not a good hockey player after the first year,” Bridgette Fox said of her son Shane at age 10. “But, he went out there and practiced every day. He just kept with it.”
Shane Fox’s time on the floor reached a peak this past week when the Neumann University defenseman played for the United States in the Inline Hockey World Championship in Tangere, Finland.
A graduate of Timber Creek High School, Fox excelled last season for Neumann as the Knights went 40-1 and captured the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Championship in the sports’ highest division.
“In roller hockey, you want your best skaters playing defense because they see the floor,” Neumann coach Lee Strofe said. “We definitely relied on Shane to move the puck and anchor the power play as well.
“His shot is lethal. It’s probably the hardest shot in the league.”
That shot helped Fox to the team’s highest total of power play goals with 11. His 43 goals were good for third on the club. He finished with 80 points in 33 games and five game-winning goals to his credit.
“He’s one of those kids on your team, he wins every battle there is for a puck,” three-year teammate at Neumann, Nick Allison said. “He’s one of the best players in the country.”
Fox proved it at the Tournament of Roller Hockey Series’ championships in the first week of July.
The rising senior played in three different divisions and helped win a title in each. He earned MVP honors for two of the divisions.
During the tournament, Fox also tried out for the national team.
He was included on the roster as one of the country’s top seven defensemen. In a week’s time, he was off to Finland.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Bridgette Fox said. “Two of the championship games he got game-winning goals and just did incredible. In between that, he had three tryouts.
“It’s something he really wanted.”
Fox and Team USA were eliminated from title contention in the worldwide tournament on Thursday with a 5-2 loss to Sweden.
Still, the experience was something his family and friends cherished while watching the games live online in the states.
It’s possible Fox finds himself representing the U.S. again in 2016.
“He played well for it being his first time out there,” Strofe said. “With his experience from this year, I expect him to be back out there next year.
“I’m so happy for Shane. I get emotional. Being a part of his dream and knowing him the way I do, it’s just terrific. It shows if you do the right things, hard work pays off.”
Off the ice, Fox’s maturity has stood out. He earned dean’s list distinction at the Aston, Pennsylvania, school last semester.
“Shane was immature, you know?” his mother said of his first year in college. “Neumann has really given him the opportunity to go in this direction. I’m so proud of him.”
Allison said he noticed a difference in his pal throughout the 2014-15 school year.
They share many of the same classes and the harder coursework got, the more Fox stepped up.
“He matured and grew so much and carried it all over to the rink,” the forward said. “He gets it. Even with harder classes, he gets what needs to be done and carries it over to hockey.”
And when he’s in skates, the kid can play.
“He brings another element to the game,” Allison said. “Even as a defenseman, he’s usually better on offense than the other team’s forwards.”
Fox had two points in three games before Thursday’s loss. He and Team USA will play Slovenia on Friday.
Mark Trible; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org