Looking Back on Good Times with Coach Block

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photo courtesy of Mike Mackey

Mr. Leigh Block has been with us at Walker for a whopping 17 years. He has graced us with his presence as an english teacher, coach, and Athletic Director. This year has been bittersweet for all, as Coach Block will be moving away next year to pursue his coaching dream in Texas. Although he will be greatly missed, we are wishing the best for his next journey. Before we say goodbye, we wanted to take some time to reflect on and appreciate the time Coach Block has spent with us at Walker. To do this, a brief Q&A was organised, where Coach Block would give us some insight on what his experience has been like at Walker. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: How would you describe your experience at Walker during your 17 years working here?

A: “I’d say it’s been above all, fulfilling, and I think the other thing I’d say is I’m appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had to do a lot of different things.”

Coach Block has taken on multiple significant roles at Walker, including teaching AP literature, AP language, creating his own senior elective, coaching varsity boys basketball, varsity girls basketball, being an assistant coach for varsity girls basketball, being an assistant Athletic Director, and being the Athletic Director. It’s safe to say Coach Block is very well-rounded.

Q: What are some of your favourite memories as a basketball coach and english teacher?

A: “We went to the elite eight a long time ago and played Dwight Howard, who’s an NBA player. We lost to them in overtime, so we were that close to the final four, but that was really exciting. We played for three straight region championships early in my career. Really had no business being there, but three straight runner-ups is pretty good. Also helping the girls get to only their second playoff appearance in school history was pretty cool.”

As an english teacher, Coach Block says, ” I think what I love about Walker as a teacher is I’ve had total freedom in my classes to teach whatever I books wanted to teach. In the big picture, my favourite memory of being an english teacher is the latitude of freedom to do what I thought was best for the students I was teaching.”

Q: If you could leave us with one final piece of advice, what would it be?

A: “It is sad to be ready and not be called. It is tragic to be called and not be ready. Everything you do, always be prepared because you never know when your number is gonna be called. And a lot of the times, it’s not, but that’s ok.”

Q: What’s one thing you’ll never forget about walker?

A: “That’s easy. People. Within 17 years a lot of people are the same, like Mr. McCurdy, Mrs. Rogers, Mr. Mackey, there’s a bunch of people that were here 21 years ago when I got here, in the year 2000, and then every year there’s a whole new batch of teachers and coaches who are new. I’ve had 17 years of those rotations so to speak. I’ll tell you what, if you’re any place for a decent amount of time, and when you leave, the answer is not ‘the people,’ that’s a problem. So it’s definitely the people for me.”

Q: Who is the funniest person you’ve met at Walker?

A: “Barry Foy. By far.”

Q: What are 3 words you would use to describe your role at Walker?

A: “Complicated, busy, and challenging. The reason I’d say all those is because I’m doing all three; teaching, coaching, and administrative.”

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at Walker?

A: “Probably the growth of the physical school itself. The Studio Theatre used to be the dining hall. Shortly before I came, the auditorium used to be the gym. That was the old Sprayberry gym until we built Coles Athletic Center. The preschool didn’t exist, Muthia, Dining hall, the gym, the library, none of that existed. Almost every space in this school has been reconfigured or renovated. As the school grows, and as your needs change, you have to adapt, and that’s one thing I thought Walker has done a really good job of.”

Q: If you could choose to coach a new sport, what would it be?

A: “Baseball. Baseball is a very stats-driven sport. You can’t be a baseball fan or appreciate the game without understanding the importance in the culture of stats, and so that, to me, is very appealing.”

Q: If you could choose to teach a different subject, what would it be?

A: “Math. Because of the stats, and the numbers, and the order, and the logic, and the tidiness. Those things to me are very appealing because the rest of my life is not tidy at all.”

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a teacher and/or coach?

A: “All of your teachers and coaches at the school, at least, desperately want to do well, and they want you to do well. So, because all of us take it so seriously (whatever we’re associated with), we just invest so much and it’s a crazy amount of energy and time that we’re investing in that thing to give students and student-athletes a really good experience. The hardest thing is knowing that if you really really want to do this well, it’s exhausting. You literally have to give everything of yourself, but that’s the only way to do it well. It’s very difficult, but it’s totally worth it.”

Although it will be different without Coach Block, it is clear that whoever has the honour of meeting him next year is beyond fortunate, just as Walker was. Good luck Coach Block!

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