At every baseball game, head coach Kirk Bock fills in his scorecard and logs the game in his registry as a victory or as a defeat. With 606 wins and 153 losses recorded, his devotion to the game of baseball runs deep.
With his first childhood memories consisting of spending time with his father, Coach Billy Bock, on the baseball field at Sylvan Hills at seven-years-old and spending the evenings and weekends watching games and recruiting team members alongside his dad, it’s no wonder his love of the game is strong.
“My dad coached for 44 years,” says Kirk. “My father was a very successful coach. Bouncing around the state was a part of my life. I went to four high schools in three years.” Billy Bock won championships in football, baseball, tennis, golf, boxing, and basketball. It was the early inspiration of his father that lead Kirk to play baseball.
In college, Kirk played catcher for the University of Central Arkansas under the training of coaches Ronnie Kerr and Jack Fulmer and began as an assistant coach following graduation. “I learned everything I possibly could under Ronnie Kerr and Jack Fulmer,” says Kirk. “They were two of best coaches I’d ever had.”
Kirk credits Kerr and Fulmer for setting him on the path of life he has today. “They recruited me and found me a roommate, and through my roommate, I met my wife.” Kirk and his wife Lillian have been married for 27 years, and they have two children Garret and Caroline.
“Kerr and Fulmer cared about you more as a person than a player,” says Kirk. “He set a good example, which I also had at home, but when you get to see that outside of the home, that’s special.”
Following his job at the University of Central Arkansas, Kirk took a new coaching job with Northwest Missouri State as a graduate assistant for two years where he also served as the pitching and hitting coach for the baseball team under Coach Jim Johnson. “Jim Johnson taught me how to organize a program and as well as how to organize myself,” says Kirk. “I was not a morning person, but I quickly learned how to become one.”
With a great deal of experience of coaching college teams, Coach Bock turned his sights to returning to the Natural State. There he and his family moved to Mountainburg, Arkansas where he served as the head coach of the junior high football team, defensive coordinator for the high school football team and head coach of the high school baseball team.
Now that Kirk was coaching 7th-12th graders instead of college kids, he could feel the responsibility of every decision he made affecting the program. Mountainburg Athletic Director Chris Nolan and Coach Tom Herald provided him a chance to lead. “My dad would always say, ‘Who you are will get you somewhere, but it’s what you know keeps you there,’” says Kirk. “Everyone knew my dad, and he helped me secure that job, but I had to prove myself to stay there.”
Kirk relied on what he had learned from his father and coaches to inspire his players to be their best. “One of the things that I tell our players is that every decision you make directly affects someone else,” says Kirk. “Whether you are having a good day or a bad day it always directly affects someone in your life and your teammates.”
Serving as a coach for nearly 30 years, he’s taught hundreds of students, each of players leaving an indelible impression.
“As a coach, I’ve been a best friend, a parent, and worst enemy to some kids and some don’t like what you have to say,” says Kirk. “You try to do the right thing for the kids, and it makes me feel good about what I’ve chosen to do for a living.”
In 2009, Kirk took the head coaching position for the Bryant High School baseball team. He led the team to state championship titles in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Also in 2016, Kirk received the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association, National Coach of the Year for Boy’s Baseball.
In 2003, Coach Bock’s father collapsed at the baseball state tournament and passed away that year. As far as traditions go, Coach Bock begins and ends every game the same way, thinking of his Dad. “He could have retired ten years sooner, but he loved it,” says Kirk. “He coached all the way to the end.”
After a lifetime of playing, coaching and researching the game of baseball, Kirk attributes remaining a constant student to his success as a coach. “When you quit learning you need to quit coaching,” says Kirk. “Having the humility to know when and how to teach and realizing that everyone is not the same is key.”