New basketball coach quite familiar with Valley program
Mark Faulx isn't promising a full-scale return to glory at Valley — that's a lot to ask of the new boys basketball coach — but he remembers when the Vikings were a model for success, revered by opponents and committed to keeping things that way.
Faulx was a point guard at Knoch in the early 1990s and played in the same section as Valley, which won the WPIAL title in 1993.
“I have always had respect for Valley,” Faulx said. “I remember how good they were with Tom Pipkins and I knew Bill Coury. I played against Pipkins. I remember those days well.”
As a rising sophomore, Faulx made his first varsity start at Valley. Now, he's set to begin his first stint there as a head coach.
His challenge will be about as easy as taking a charge against Pipkins.
Valley was 3-16 last season and Faulx, who replaces Phil Cope, inherits a nine-game losing streak.
On top of that, he's taking the reins of a program that has been parked in the garage since the end of last season — no summer leagues or open gyms, no organized shoot-arounds.
“I can only control what's ahead of me,” said Faulx, 37. “I want to get people together and start impacting. I am super excited; I can't wait to get things moving.”
The lack of activity puts the new coach in a precarious position, but he plans to ease his way into the program and not panic when it comes to making up for lost time.
“My plan right now is to get the kids in the gym and impact them by quality workouts,” Faulx said. “I want to sit down with (athletic director Mark Kaczanowicz) and discuss how we can get the word out to draw more people in.
“This is a great opportunity to show I care and that I am committed to help the kids grow. I want to get more people coming out and seeing that I am here for the long haul.”
Faulx was a double-figure scorer during his high school career and played four years at Indiana (Pa.), where he was a team captain.
Coaching always fascinated Faulx, who often observed his father, Dee, a long-time assistant to Les Shoop at Knoch, carry the clipboard. He even coached one season with that successful duo.
“My mom and dad are retired and live in Florida in the winter,” Faulx said. “My dad's excited for me. The first thing he asked is if he'll be able to get radio broadcasts down there.
“We play Knoch on my mom's birthday.”
A Highland Park resident, Faulx is a biology teacher at Plum High School, a position he's held for 12 years. He also served as assistant boys basketball coach for seven years under Ron Richards, even applying for the head coach job when Richards took some time off.
He also served as an assistant for five seasons at Penn Hills.
A newborn son compelled him to take last year off from coaching. His wife, Sarah, is a former field hockey coach at Winchester Thurston.
His team may also be taking baby steps. But Faulx is committed to keeping the mood upbeat.
“I would classify myself as a positive guy,” he said. “You'll see a lot of enthusiasm and high energy.”
Knoch coach Ron McNabb also was an assistant alongside Faulx.
“The thing about Mark is that he's extremely dedicated,” McNabb said. “He's a student of the game. He's not a guy who's going to jump up in your face, but he's a solid coach.
“He will bring some stability to the program.”
A twist with Faulx and McNabb: they are now coaching at one another's high schools.
McNabb was a standout guard at Valley and also played at Indiana (Pa.).
Faulx said he needs to get a feel for his personnel before committing to a style of play, but ideally, he said the Vikings will be able to “freelance if things break down.”
Expect to see plenty of passing, cutting and screening. Faulx appreciates good movement.
“And I was raised to play man-to-man defense,” he said.
Even though he was out of coaching last year, Faulx didn't lose touch with the game. He said he attended 10 to 15 games, as well some coaching clinics and even the Big Ten Tournament.
“Basketball is a life-long passion,” he said. “I found different ways to feed the hunger.”