By Kate Blankinship
For Brian Bock, the Associate Athletic Director for Recreation and Fitness, a love of sports was instilled from a young age. Growing up in Minnesota, he played nearly every sport, from soccer in the fall to hockey in winter. Bock focused on basketball most, and eventually played for Augustana University, where he still holds nine all-time records more than two decades later.
Bock planned to go into physical therapy after graduation. “Like a lot of athletes, I thought I could make sports into a career at some point,” he said. “I wanted to go back to what made me happy, what I was passionate about, and at the end of the day that was sports.” When this goal did not go as planned, he shifted gears and started a job at a financial firm, but it wasn’t long before he realized he wasn’t suited for the role.
“I decided to go back to my first love, my first passion, which is athletics and recreation. I got my master’s in sports administration back in Minnesota,” Bock said. “It’s corny… but it’s just about being happy and following what you’re passionate about and that’s ultimately what I went back to.”
After earning his master’s degree, Bock started as the facilities manager at UChicago, working non-traditional hours from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. to schedule all non-varsity activities at Henry Crown Field House and Ratner and manage the equipment rooms. Bock later transitioned to a role in membership services, managing more than three thousand patrons of the athletics center and overseeing visitor control.
He was in this position for about four years before becoming the Assistant Athletic Director in 2008. In this role, Bock scheduled all intramural events, blocked out time for sport clubs in every athletic facility, and managed sport clubs’ more internal functions.
It was working in this role that Bock came to love the University’s intramural sports program. He is especially fond of innertube water polo and broomball. “You can put your average student [in these activities] and they can excel. I love seeing stuff like that.” Bock also finds value in the University offering intramurals like chess, hearts, and euchre.
“We try to be as much as we can to all people. If they’re not athletically inclined in the traditional sense, then we can offer board games and card games,” Bock said.
With the restructuring of the Athletic Department in February 2018, Bock transitioned into a new role as Associate Athletic Director for Recreation and Fitness—his current position. In this position, Bock oversees from a higher perspective much of the work he used to handle directly.
“Before I was the master scheduler; I was the end person that had to be filtered through.” Now, Bock oversees all non-department reservations in the various athletic facilities; he’s the person people first go to if they want to reserve any space.
Though Bock now delegates more of the day-to-day components of intramurals, he still attends intramural events because he loves seeing students grow over the years. In addition to this, he remains the point person for all sport clubs. Often, his job involves helping students to figure out how to make an idea successful, no matter how unconventional they may seem, from paintball to Quidditch. “I love the variety—I never get bored,” Bock said. “If we can do something viably and safely and there’s a want or a need on campus, let’s try to do it.”
Now in his seventeenth year at the University, Bock is familiar with the journeys students often take—from walking into Ratner as an unsure first-year to having established close bonds as a fourth-year through a variety of intramural sports experiences.
“I definitely see the evolution of our students over time, and I love seeing them become a more complete person from the time they step on campus to when they leave,” Bock said.
“We’re here for academics first and foremost, but if we’re really serious about holistic education then I think athletics and recreation can play a big part,” Bock said. Bock went on to discuss the intangibles that come from athletics and recreation—like socialization, time management, how to work within a team or independently, problem solving, and critical thinking. “I think it goes a long way, and I truly believe in the mission of what we do here. I feel like my charge is to help introduce people to that.”