Big-city life suits Bock just fine

Brian Bock, a 1994 Willmar gradute, came out of grad school at MSU-Mankato with a sports administration degree and soon found a job at the University of Chicago.

Brian Bock, a 1994 Willmar gradute, came out of grad school at MSU-Mankato with a sports administration degree and soon found a job at the University of Chicago.

At the time, he speculated two year in Sandburg's "Stormy, husky, brawling -- City of the Big Shoulders" would be plenty for a small town boy.

But now it's been four years and he has no immediate plans to retreat to a more provincial lifestyle. So what got into him?

"Well," he explains, "Chicago is an intriguing place to live."

The self-proclaimed "City of Neighborhoods" has gotten in his blood, specifically, the museums, pro sports, theater, ethnic festivals, the parks and the architecture.


Bock is an Athletics Facilities Manager at the University of Chicago.

He was a three-sport athlete at Willmar who went on to play basketball for four years at Augustana. The 1994 Hengstler-Ranweiler winner and Mt. Olivet Minnesota Male Student/Athlete of the Year is a 2007 inductee into the Cardinal Pride Hall of Fame.

"Being around all these fitness facilities, I really don't have an excuse not to be in shape," said Bock, who is the same height (6-foot-6½) as he was early in high school, only more muscular.

The University of Chicago's lofty reputation stems from academics, not athletics. Seventy Nobel Prize winners have at one time called the campus in Hyde Park home. Physic, chemistry, mathematic and economic majors abound.

Still, in this cerebral setting fitness is celebrated. The school of 4,370 undergrads competes in 17 Division III sports, the level of the MIAC, and there are dozens of sports clubs

"People are surprised to hear that the University of Chicago even has athletic programs," said Bock. "We are very competitive within our conference -- the University Athletic Association -- and national polls."

Alonzo Stagg was the college's first football coach, and UC was a founding member of the Western Conference, better known as the Big 10.

Enrico Fermi's famous experiment Dec. 2, 1942, a self-sustaining chain reaction initiating the controlled release of nuclear energy took place on a squash court under the University's Stagg Field.


Every day he comes to work, Bock passes by the first Heisman Trophy, given to UC's Jay Berwanger in 1935. Football was dropped in 1939 but the Maroons returned in 1969.

Bock is a 10-minute walk from campus, which is 15 minutes from the South Loop and just 10 minutes from Soldier Field. He walks his large dog at night without fear but says he is always alert to the surroundings.

Last month, a graduate student was shot dead after leaving campus and one of Bock's office colleagues was shot at.

Besides supervising the two large building dedicated to competition and lifetime fitness, Bock hires and trains a part-time staff of up to 100 students per quarter. He manages revenue from facility memberships and services and is the "point person" for the 2,600 faculty, staff and alumni using the fitness facilities.

This week at home for a short visit with his parents (Mary and retired basketball coach Dewey Bock), Brian said he may start looking at his options next spring. "I like the job, but I've kind of hit the ceiling. But I would like to stay in Chicago. I've barely scratched the surface."

On the fly

* After cancer surgery on Wednesday in Rochester, Willmar High School swim coach Carl Shuldes made a quick stop on Friday at the high school pool where he told the boys to expect some 10,000-yard days this week. He is reported to be "healing quickly" but sore.

* Seth Nelsen was the Cardinals' Offensive MVP as a running back his senior season (2003). He's seen spot duty as a running back and wide receiver at Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D. for four years, including a redshirt in 2004. For the third time, he's been named to the North Central Conference Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll.


* Ryan Hagemeyer has appeared in two games for the Concordia Cobbers (2-6). The 6-6 freshman forward was 3-for-3 shooting and had two rebounds on Dec. 15 at Al Nemzek Hall where the Cobbers lost to MSU Moorhead 69-47.

* New Cardinal wrestling coach Casey Johnson, the sixth head coach in the history of the program, got his first win (after four dual meet losses), on Friday with a young team that had seven freshmen or eighth-graders in the line-up. Tom Beyer, his predecessor, also had a tough first year going 0-12 in 1981-82, the first of his 26 seasons on the job.

* Joy Esboldt, a 5-6 guard, is in her fourth year with the Carleton basketball team which is 5-2. She has one basket in two games.

* Darren Solbrack (WHS 2003) is in his fifth year of college basketball. The 6-8 forward at Southwest Minnesota State has averaged 11.5 minutes per game with 2.3 ppg and 1.6 rpg. The Mustangs (8-3) are off to their best start in seven years after Thursday's upset of No. 14 (Division II) St. Cloud State at Marshall. Solbrack played two years at Ridgewater College and in 20 games as a SMSU junior. He was a medical redshirt in 2006-7.

* Scott Swansson (WHS '74) has his Woodbury Royals boys basketball team off to a 2-1 start. Graduation losses were heavy after going 25-5 a year ago while reaching the state tournament.

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