(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN – Alex Willcox, Montana State’s head strength and conditioning coach since 2011, resigned from his position in November and has returned with his family to his native Iowa.
One of MSU’s longest-tenured coaches upon his departure, Willcox relocated with his family earlier in December. He bookended his Bobcat career with FCS Playoff appearances by the MSU football program, arriving in November of 2011 as the program prepared for a second-round game against New Hampshire and departing with his most recent game the school’s first semifinal appearance since the 1984 National Championship season.
In between, current Bobcat coach Jeff Choate said Willcox helped hold Bobcat football together.
“I call Alex the glue of our program,” Choate said. “Through the transition of Coach (Rob) Ash’s staff to our staff he was a constant for the student-athletes, being there for them as a mentor, as a coach, as a surrogate parent, as a sounding board. I’ve never seen anyone invest as much time in our student-athletes as Alex, and not just the football student-athletes, in my 20-plus years doing this at the collegiate level.”
Willcox lettered as an Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman in 2003 and 2004, earning Academic All-Big 10 in 2004. He began his strength and conditioning coaching career there in 2006 as an undergraduate. He graduated with a degree in Health and Sport Studies with a psychology minor in 2007, and was elevated to a full-time position at UI in 2008. He worked as a strength and conditioning coach at Drake in 2010 before joining the MSU staff one year later. During Willcox’s eight seasons with Bobcat football the team appeared in the FCS Playoffs four times, and 16 different players earned All-America honors. He helped implement changes that benefited all Bobcat student-athletes, and was named the Samson Equipment’s 2012-13 FCS Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.
“Alex laid the foundation for where we are today,” said MSU Director of Athletics Leon Costello. “Being here for nine years, the changes he made within our strength and conditioning program and also in the weight room has really set us up for success. When you have someone here for that long that has really put his fingerprint on our department it will leave a huge void. He put his time, energy and passion into this place, he bled Blue and Gold, and if there was one person who wanted Bobcat Athletics to succeed it was Alex. He worked with our student-athletes from the time they arrived until the time they graduated, and we thank him for everything he did here.”
In his position as Strength and Conditioning Head Coach at MSU Willcox supervised strength training for all varsity sports, working directly with the football program. In between the Montana State’s 2011 and 2019 playoff runs Willcox helped elevate Bobcat football to its current level of success while building a foundation for all of the school’s student-athletes moving forward.
All-Big Sky offensive lineman Lewis Kidd calls Willcox crucial to his success.
“Coach Willcox was a huge part of our family and will always be a Bobcat," Kidd said. "He cared about every single one of us and made sure that we were always in a position to succeed. He worked his butt off every day because he loved what he did and loved us. I know specifically for myself he helped me build my strength and confidence in the weight room and pushed me to become a better player and person.”
Kidd said that helping transform MSU’s student-athletes physically was only part of the gift Willcox gave Bobcat Athletics.
“Coach Willcox changed all of us into better athletes and better men,” he said. “We can’t thank him enough for what he’s invested into us and this program. He will always be a Bobcat and part of our family.”
As Bobcat Athletics prepares to fill Willcox’s position, Choate says his connections with Bobcat those he coached will be hard to replicate.
“When I do my year-end evaluations with student-athletes he’s consistently among the highest-rated staff members. He’s going to be hard to replace and sorely missed, but this was in the best interest of him and his family in the long haul. I’m glad for the work he did here, and we wish him and his family the best," Choate said.