After 30 years as the boys varsity basketball coach at Petersburg High School, Rick Brock has seen a lot: several regional titles, a couple state titles, and countless nights when the Petersburg High School gymnasium has echoed with a boisterous home-team crowd. But he says the most meaningful part of his tenure with the team hasn’t been the victories, cheering fans or highlight-reel moments.
“The highlight for me was that I’ve been able to share all of this with my family,” he said.
Rick is Haida, a Raven of the Brown Bear House whose crest is Double Fin Killer Whale, and he has strong ties to his family throughout the region. Every bit of his coaching career has been touched in some way by his basketball-loving family.
Rick’s brother, Dino, is the coach of the Petersburg girls varsity team, and his cousin, Archie Young, coaches the boys varsity team at Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. His sister, Lovie Brock, coached the girls varsity team in Cordova for several years. Rick’s wife, Michelle Brock, is a former Petersburg High School basketball player who went on to play college ball, and he claims, “she has been my biggest supporter.”
Rick’s own kids came up through the Petersburg High School basketball program. His son, Michael, played on Rick’s team from 2011–2014, and Rick got to sit on the bench as his brother Dino coached his daughters Ruby (2013–2016) and Katie (2015–2018). His parents, Lovey and Al Brock of Wrangell, are, in his words, “basketball fanatics” who travel to watch games throughout the region.
Beyond his own family, Rick has coached players from different generations of a few local families. And family is a key word in the philosophical approach he takes to coaching.
“We use the words ‘together’ and ‘family’ all the time,” he said. “Everybody is important to our successes and our failures. All of us have a piece of them whether we’re on the floor or not.”
And much like in a family, Rick and his fellow coaches find a role for everyone who wants to play basketball at Petersburg High School. “We’re too small to pick and choose who plays. Each year we have strengths and weaknesses as a group, so then I just adjust our style of play to fit what we have.”
By the time his seniors graduate, Rick has been working with them as a teacher or coach for as long as seven years. His day job is being a math teacher at Mitkof Middle School, so he teaches 6th, 7th and 8th graders before seeing them move on to high school.
“You get the chance to watch these kids,” he said. “I spend seven years with them, so after that, when they stop by the gym to say hello or I see them on the street and see what successful husbands, fathers and businesspeople they’ve grown into and the successes they’re having, it’s extremely gratifying.”
Rick earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and received Sealaska scholarship support throughout college. “I was one of the first in our whole family to go to college, and Sealaska helped tremendously with that. I’m very thankful.”