Ron “Fox” Clinton, retired Southwestern Community College athletic director, coach and instructor, will be inducted into the Southwestern Community College Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony to be held on March 2.
The ceremony will be held prior to the men’s basketball game, which is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in the Student Center. The women’s game at 1 p.m. precedes the induction ceremony.
Ron “Fox” Clinton, who was born in in 1936 in Geary, Okla., is Southwestern Community College’s first Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. He has spent his entire adult lifetime working, coaching, teaching, and supporting Southwestern.
At age 21, Clinton, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and Simpson College, came to Creston from Council Bluffs, where he and his family had been living since 1940, when his father took a job with the railroad.
In 1964, Clinton began coaching men’s basketball and baseball for the Golden Bears of Creston Junior College. He had a stint as the Creston Junior College cheerleading sponsor as well; and then, in 1966, when Creston Junior College became Southwestern Community College, he made the transition from a Golden Bear to a Spartan.
In the late 1960s, Clinton returned to college as a graduate student commuting to what is now known as Northwest Missouri State University, where he earned his master’s degree. He taught physical education classes, sports officiating, and first aid at Southwestern from 1968 to 1998.
To say Clinton settled into Creston quickly would be an understatement. In fact, in 1972, Creston Mayor Paul M. Myers proclaimed April 28 “Ron Clinton Day,” for Clinton’s “continued service to the young people in the form of athletics and service.”
At that time, Clinton had been coaching at Southwestern Community College and Creston High School for 13 years. Little did Myers know, Clinton was just getting started.
Clinton’s coaching legacy lived on for years to come at Southwestern and Creston High School. He continued coaching men’s basketball and baseball for the Spartans until 1983, when he made the shift to women’s athletics.
“I never would have guessed I would coach girls,” Clinton recently stated.
But from 1984 on, Clinton coached a whole lot of girls and loved every minute of it.
“We had so much fun, it shouldn’t have even been legal,” Clinton quipped.
He touched an enormous number of lives coaching the women’s basketball team from 1985-1998 and then assistant coaching from 2001-2003.
He was also the Spartans’ long-time softball coach, head coaching the team from 1984-1998 and again off and on from 2001-2006, while he was coaching at the high school as well.
Clinton even coached golf at Southwestern in the 1970s and again from 2007-2009.
Clinton’s coaching versatility was recognized by his peers. In 1995, Bill Krejci, long-time Southwestern coach and current athletic director and fundraiser stated, “The man (Clinton) has coached everything and won at everything. He is the ultimate coach because he can coach anything.”
Highlights from Clinton’s coaching career, at Southwestern, included three trips to the national tournament with his women’s basketball teams in 1988, 1989, and 1992. In 1988, the Spartans, with just one sophomore, were the Region XI champions.
The 1992 team placed fourth in the National Junior College Women’s Basketball Tournament. During the tournament, the Spartans beat the top-ranked team in the nation and were just five points short from playing for the national championship.
Clinton’s softball teams have seen success as well. In 1982, the Spartans finished as runner-up in the regional junior college softball tourney.
In addition to Clinton’s responsibilities at Southwestern, he has also been an Iowa High School Athletic Association sports official in football, basketball, and baseball. He has refereed at the state tournaments on multiple occasions.
Other honors for Clinton include being inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1982, the Officials Hall of Fame in 1986, and being named Football Official of the Year for the state of Iowa in 1989.
Many people don’t even know Southwestern’s Athletic Hall of Fame inductee as Ron Clinton, they just know “The Fox.” He earned this nickname early on in his career. According to Clinton, during the days when teams traveled in multiple vehicles rather than by bus, the basketball team was playing in Norfolk, Neb.
After the game, they were having a little contest to see who could get from the restaurant back to the hotel first, and Clinton knew a shortcut. Before they took off, he said, “You’re not ‘gonna outfox a fox,” and the name stuck. He has been known far and wide as Fox ever since. The media even picked up on this, with headlines such as “Creston JC’s Clinton Cunning Like a Fox” as early as the 1970s.
Clinton has had a wonderful support team at home throughout his career. He married his wife, Ruth, in 1958, and they have two daughters — Debra and Carole, as well as nine grandchildren. Both Debra and Carole attended Southwestern and were Spartan cheerleaders.
During retirement, Clinton aspires to be a better gardener and build better birdhouses. He is dedicated to increasing the number of bluebirds in the city of Creston.
As for coaching, Fox will go down as a legacy for all the right reasons. In his own words, from a 1995 article in the Creston News Advertiser, Fox stated, “Southwestern has provided me with a great medium for self-expression. Any success we have had cannot be measured by wins and losses, but from the opportunity to work with the young people of the area. Our young people are our greatest resource.”