The Charleston Battery announced the signing of former Bishop England High School soccer standout James Cox on Monday, pending league and federation approval.
The contract is an amateur contract that does not involve money but does allow for Cox to participate with the team, dressed out, on the road and in home contests.
“It’s awesome to be able to do something like this,” Cox said. “I know how much I will learn from being a part of their program. Their roster is so diverse, and it gives me an opportunity to learn from players from all over the world. It’s a win-win for me.”
Cox just wrapped up a successful high school career at Bishop England and is believed to be the first local high school player to join the Battery program after participating in the youth academy program earlier in his career.
Cox led the Bishops to the Class AAA state championship game in 2018, scoring 28 goals while adding seven assists that season.
As a senior, he finished with 28 goals and nine assists for Bishop England, which lost in the state semifinals to eventual state champion May River High School. Cox was a two-time all-state selection and was a first-team selection to The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry team.
Cox played for the South Carolina Battery Youth Academy during his freshman year of high school, starting in 31 of 32 matches for the club.
“We are excited to give a young local player the opportunity to come into our squad,” Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser said in a release. “As our new youth academy continues to grow and develop, we are hopeful to add even more local talent to the roster."
Cox has signed to play collegiately at College of Charleston, where he will join his brother Tomas, a rising junior in the Cougars’ program. Battery president Mike Kelleher says the signing of Cox as a developmental player does not affect his NCAA eligibility. Kelleher also says the signing of younger players to developmental contracts is on the increase nationally and worldwide.
“That’s the trend now,” he said. “We are seeing a rise in the signing of these talented younger players around the world. We have invested a lot in our youth developmental program in Charleston, and I think you will see more local signings such as the one with James in the future.”
Bishop England coach Ed Khouri was surprised, but pleased, to learn of the signing on Monday night.
“I had no idea, but I think it’s great for James,” Khouri said. “This is a great opportunity for him. He’s a fine young man and a very good soccer player. He did a lot for the Bishop England program, and we certainly wish him well. It’s great for our local soccer community, as well.”
Cox plans to participate with the Battery through July but will then leave for Argentina for several months. He will not enroll in college until next summer, following the same path his brother Tomas did after high school.
“My family heritage is in Argentina, so this is a chance for me to go there and experience a new culture and learn about where I am from,” Cox said. “I’ll be attending classes at a high school and learning all about their culture. Hopefully I can find a club team to play some soccer with, but this is more of an educational experience.”
Cox will travel with the Battery to Ottawa for a game on Wednesday night.
“I am so excited, whether I play or not,” he said. “I’ll be dressed out and taking it all in. If and when I ever get on the field, I will give it my best. This is a dream come true.”