Caring hands: Bailey Fox has carried the mantle from her elder sister to being a leader on the West Forsyth girls lacrosse team

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 11, 2024

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Bailey Fox has a unique quality where she can show a love for one thing off the field and have a love for her respective sport show up on the field. 

Fox, a senior on the girls lacrosse team at West Forsyth, is in many ways a horse whisperer off the field because she’s a volunteer at Hoof & Paw TRAC, which is a therapeutic riding and activity center in Lexington. And that calmness she has with horses has shown itself throughout her career on the lacrosse team. In addition, she shows horses at shows. 

“It definitely does (mean more) just because like once they realize that you’re actually trying to help them (the horses), and just like get them comfortable, that’s whenever they realize just like completely like flip of the switch,” Fox said. “They definitely know the difference between like whenever wherever they used to be, like whether it was a neglect case or like or someone simply was like of old age, and they couldn’t take care of them or something. 

“They definitely know the difference between that and them actually being cared for where they’re at now.” 

Not that Fox has had reason to break in her already seasoned and talented teammates at West Forsyth, but just like with anything else, it’s taken some adjustments after here junior season in which the team finished 19-2 overall and 10-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. 

Now a senior co-captain on the girls lacrosse team, along with Alivia Gurley, Fox has lit up the scoreboard for the Titans. As of Tuesday morning, the Titans are 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. A big part of that is Fox, who has, according to, 27 goals and 13 assists this season.  

“It was definitely a change because we did lose most of our defense and also our goalie as well,” Fox said. “But I think we’ve worked around it. I think we’ve adjusted things that have made up for it. But same thing with Alivia, like me and her have been really close since like freshman year. And we’ve been together all four years, like we’re best friends all the time.” 

Their friendship doesn’t just exist during games and practices. 

“We’re on the field, we’re off the field. We’re like, if we’re not on the field we’re probably together,” Fox said. “And we’ve been known as like the two twins. I guess we look identical. People like apparently can’t tell us apart sometimes. We get people to like call us each other’s names sometimes on the field. But we know what they’re saying. Like, it’s an in-the-moment-thing.” 

Fox’s coach at West Forsyth, Doug Brawley, has seen her climb the ladder of success for the Titans in her four seasons there.  

“I guess I’ve known Bailey about six years,” Brawley said. “And she’s an awesome young lady and has been a great attribute for this team every year.  

“I know her freshman year she contributed to varsity. She did not start, but she was on varsity her freshman year. And her role has increased, without looking I’m pretty safe to say she probably started her sophomore year.” 

In many ways Fox’s relationship with Gurley is much like that with her elder sister, Brooklyn, who played lacrosse at West Forsyth, graduated two years ago and is now playing at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Brooklyn signed with Lenoir-Rhyne, but transferred to Rollins. Bailey committed to play at Rollins two years ago. 

Even though both sisters play lacrosse the traditional roles were switched. Normally the younger sibling will follow in the footsteps of the older sibling. But that wasn’t the case with Brookly and Bailey. 

“I started with one of my friends who lives in South Carolina now,” Bailey said. “Her and her dad had finally convinced me to come play lacrosse. So, around fifth grade I’d say, fourth or fifth grade, I just started kind of playing for fun, like on a little rec team. And then I ended up stopping for about two or three years.” 

That’s when Brooklyn comes into the picture for lacrosse. 

“That’s when my sister had gotten involved,” Bailey said. “And then I ended up coming back going into my freshman year.” 

And it all starts because of numbers. 

“We had needed like an extra person for the Pumpkin Shootout, which is like a small tournament,” Bailey said. “Like all the these random teams will join in on, and we needed an extra person. She’d like never touched a stick and just came to play with us for fun. 

“And then she ended up sticking with it and she started out fully, like her freshman year (at West Forsyth), around eighth grade, freshman year.” 

As she got older, Brooklyn played club lacrosse for Fusion. She currently plays for Ultimate Carolina, which is based in Chapel Hill. But there was the fact of joining a high school team in West Forsyth where your big sister had already established herself and was one of the better players on the team. 

“Honestly, it’s so like, it’s so easy because we just know how the other works,” Bailey said. “And so, sometimes we won’t even have to say to each other on the field. We’ll just know exactly what the other wants out of a play, or like is trying to do.” 

In the two seasons that the sisters played as teammates for the Titans, Brawley saw the dynamic they had. 

“I don’t if I saw as much on the field because of the age difference. Brooklyn played defense and Bailey played midfield, and with the age difference and the leadership responsibility at the time,” Brawley said. “But they’re definitely close. Like I said, you can tell when they have a break or if (Brooklyn) is in town, if Brooklyn’s in town, that is her priority to go see her sister, or to get an opportunity to go watch her sister play.” 

Even though they only played for two seasons, Bailey thinks the experience made her better.  

“It’s definitely like made the biggest difference in the world because I’ve seen siblings be the opposite of that,” Bailey said. “I couldn’t imagine that with my sister. So, it’s like so comforting knowing that she cares enough, but she doesn’t care what other people think, like, ‘Here comes her little sister.’ Like she’s always been so inclusive and like constantly having my back.” 

There was a certain amount of dread that came with the end of Bailey’s sophomore season for the Titans, knowing that her sister, who she calls her best friend, would be graduating and she’d be without her the next two seasons. 

“(It was) really different (last season as a junior) because it was just this sense of like (Brooklyn) was kind l of like my comfort person, like the person I could come to about everything,” Bailey said. “Like if there was something going on with my play and I wasn’t having like a good play day necessarily, like knew how to talk to me and tell me like, fix it. And so, it was just different not having that person.” 

Bailey learned from not having her sister last year and is really flourishing this season. 

“This year you can really see it,” Brawley said. “I don’t, I use underclassmen in the leadership roles, but they’re more relationships with me and the individual athlete more than the team because I try to put the official leadership roles on the seniors to try to get them to bring the team together, to get them to step up and get them to do what the team needs to do to be the official leaders on the team.  

“And Bailey, like I said, has always been one who was willing to do whatever I asked of her in regards to helping the team out.” 

It’s hard to believe, but Bailey’s time as a lacrosse player and student and West Forsyth is just about complete. Counting this past Tuesday’s scheduled game at home against Reagan and Thursday’s home game against Bishop McGuinness, West Forsyth just has six regular-season games remaining. 

That means she’ll be passing the baton, or lacrosse stick as it may, to the next leader in the Titans’ girls lacrosse program. 

“I have (thought about her last game), but honestly as long as I can walk off that field with some of my best friends I have met through the sport, like the best coach, like that’s fine by me,” Bailey said.  

After having a Fox sister play for West Forsyth for the past six seasons it will certainly be different next season.  

“Her parents are so involved, too,” Brawley said. “Her mother, Jen, has been keeping stats for me for years and has been in charge of keeping up with organizing team meals and team activities. Her father’s been helping coach for the last at least four years. He may have been longer than that.  

“So, having the family around is actually more than just the two girls. It’s the entire family.” 

Bailey should rejoin Brooklyn on the lacrosse field in college next season. 

“Like 100% basically,” Bailey said. “Me and her, she’s not going anywhere. She’s always just telling me how much she loves it and I can’t wait to be down there.” 

And it’s a long way off, but it is no surprise what she wants to major in at Rollins, especially given her love of horses. 

“I’m really hoping to major in pre-vet(erinarian), so I’m hoping to become a large-animal vet,” Bailey said. “So, that’s kind of my hope right now.” 

No matter what she chooses in life lacrosse won’t be too far in her rear-view mirror. 

“I honestly have no idea where I’d be to be honest,” she said. “Like, because it’s been since freshman year, like I haven’t even like considered where I would go or what I would do these next four years without it.”