Kirk Bock is no newcomer when it comes to sports, so stepping into the role of Athletic Director for the Bryant Hornets was a perfect next step in a long-esteemed career. Bock, who won the Broyles Award for best assistant coach in 2020, along with several other prestigious coaching awards throughout the years, was already serving as Assistant Athletic Director as well as offensive coordinator for the five-time defending champions.
“It’s going to be a challenge to try and keep up with what Tom Farmer and Coach Mike Lee have done for the Bryant Athletic program in the past twenty years,” Bock said. “But knowing what I know about our department, when the job came open, I felt like this move would be a good fit to keep things going in the same direction.”
Kirk has been coaching for 33 years, and his first childhood memories were on a baseball field with his father, Coach Billy Bock. “My dad coached for 44 years and was very successful,” he said. “He won championships in football, baseball, tennis, golf, boxing, and basketball, and it was his inspiration that led me to play baseball myself.”
Kirk played catcher for the University of Central Arkansas, and soon after graduation he began as an assistant coach. “I learned everything I could from Coaches Ronnie Kerr and Jack Fulmer,” Kirk said. “They set me on the path for the life I have today. I still use what they taught me, to care more about the person and not just the player.” Kirk says he saw that kind of example at home from his father, but getting to see it outside of the home was special, and he truly believes they are two of the best coaches he has ever had.
Kirk went on after the job at UCA to take a position with Northwest Missouri State as graduate assistant for two years, where he also served as the pitching and hitting coach for the baseball team. Eventually, he felt led back to the Natural State, so he moved with his wife Lillian and two children to Mountainburg, where he served as 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.
It was different coaching 7th-12th graders instead of college kids, and Kirk says he used what he learned from his father and other coaches to inspire his players to be their best. He has taught hundreds of students over the years and says, “You just have to try to do the right thing for the kids, and that is what makes me feel good about what I have chosen to do for a living.”
Now with this new role, Bock plans on taking the experiences of the past 33 years to help all the coaches succeed. “At one point in my career I was focused on just football and baseball, but for the past seven years that I have been the assistant athletic director, my focus has been on helping all our sports to be successful.”
And while he says it will be very hard to fill Mike Lee’s shoes, Bock doesn’t believe in fixing what isn’t broken. “I think that if we can just stick with Mike’s vision for the program, I believe we can carry on what he was trying to do for both our school district and our athletic programs.” And that includes leading the Hornets to another victory!
Coach Bock attributes the success of the Hornet’s football program first to having good players who are brought into the system, as well as having good leadership. “Our expectations have been and will always be that we will win every time we step on the field,” he said. “And if you work the process and stay focused on it, the game will take care of itself.”
As for game-planning, Kirk believes you must look at strengths and weaknesses on both sides and then try to figure out what will be the best strategy to use. “We can always use our strengths against their weaknesses, but we can also use our strengths against their strengths if ours are better,” he said. “Sometimes that is the route you want to take.”
He admits there will be times that his players may not be as good as the players they are up against, but he believes working the process hard will make them a better team. “You don’t have to have the best players that particular night, just the best team,” Kirk said. He truly believes the Hornets are exactly that.
“They are a powerhouse,” Bock said. “It’s really unheard of to win the State championship five times in a row, and this next championship game will be my favorite, seeing it from a whole different perspective as the athletic director instead of as a coach on the field.”