On Monday, Mason Cox made his Australian Football League debut for the Collingwood Magpies, the Liverpool of Aussie rules football. That Cox would make his debut — and kick the Magpies’ first points of a 142-73 blowout of crosstown Melbourne rivals Essendon, isn’t in itself a remarkable achievement. It is when you consider that Cox never played the sport before 2013, because he was focused on high school soccer and then collegiate basketball.
In fact, Collingwood is just the latest port of call in the remarkable athletic career of Cox, who has woven a Michelangelo-like tapestry of sporting accomplishments across his first 25 years. As recalled in this piece from the Dallas Morning News, first, he was a super star soccer prospect at Flower Mound Marcus High, just outside of Dallas, where he led the Marauders to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008. That’s an extremely rare feat in Texas. Yet, rather than take his rather substantial size and skill to compete at a collegiate level, he instead decided to attend Oklahoma State, where he could just be a student.
Except just being a student didn’t last very long. Instead, the athletic, well-built 6-foot-9 teen decided to tryout to walk on to the Oklahoma State basketball team, despite having passed on basketball in high school to focus on soccer.
Somehow, Cox made the cut and spent his collegiate years on the Cowboys basketball team. Fast forward to 2013, and Cox was considering an engineering position with Exxon in Houston. That’s when he learned of an Aussie rules U.S. International Combine in Los Angeles. Right on cue, Cox was again the star of the show, earning himself a ticket to Australia and, eventually, a development pathway that culminated with his spot on the pitch against Essendon.
While the entire athletic ride has clearly been a rush, it sounds as if the latest chapter — played out in front of a crowd of 80,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) — was the most thrilling yet for the 25-year-old.
“It’s only 80,000 people here and you’ve only played the game for two years. But then it’s kind of like, ‘Yeah cool, I’ll just try this out’. Luckily it went through and it was just unreal experience,” Cox told the Melbourne Herald Sun. “It’s amazing what’s happened in my life in the past three or four years. It’s just a crazy rollercoaster that I wouldn’t change for the world.”