It was an eventful first year for Metro East Lutheran athletics director Rob Stock. He’s happy how it went down and excited to grow and improve in the position.
Stock has been a part of the MELHS family for awhile, serving as softball and girls’ basketball head coach, as well as an assistant AD under Dave Redden for the Knights. He continues to hold down his post as the girls’ basketball coach along with the AD duties.
He was groomed to take over for Redden when he retired from the position following the ‘14-15 season.
“Every year is going to be a learning year, I think,” Stock said. “Each year comes with its own challenges and my goal was to just make sure things were continuing in the right direction for the sports programs as we continue to get better at all of them. I think we saw some improvements in some of the programs that may have been struggling over the past couple of years. I think we’re going in the right direction with a lot of them.
“For a learning experience, it was nice to have a lot of the other athletics directors in the area who I could ask questions with and especially still having Dave (Redden) I could still get in contact with helped. It’s something where you learn as you go and something that’s always changing, just because there are always rules changing in the IHSA, but I thought I had a pretty good first year and we’re definitely looking forward to moving forward and growing our programs here.”
There were things to learn. It’s a different animal dealing with scheduling for all the sports programs and putting officials in place for all the games.
“Making sure I stayed on top of things and communicated not only with officials but with other athletics directors is something I learned real quickly in the beginning was going to be key to my success and our program’s success,” Stock said.
He was thrown in the fire quickly, overseeing the experiment of the football co-op with Madison High School in the fall. The relationship worked out well off the field, as the Knights were able to field a team for all nine games after only playing in four games in 2014.
They still went 0-9 on the field in ‘15, but Stock saw improvements out of the program as a whole and believes the co-op worked well and expects better results in ‘16.
“I think it was a success not only for our school, but for Madison as well,” Stock said. “Just giving them an opportunity to play football was a great thing and the communication between the two schools was really good. We got to play a home game at Madison for the first time in a long time for them, so that was good as well. We had a lot of success on the JV level, which was good. It was a growing year for the whole program with the co-op just starting. We’re definitely looking to build on some of the experience from last year and get better this year.”
The co-op created a buzz for football around Metro. Stabilizing the fledgling program seems to be working out for the numbers game, which is a big part of the battle for a football program.
“We like the way the numbers are trending for this year and hopefully that will carry over into the years to come and we’ll just continue to build the program,” Stock said. “I think just being able to field a team that was of bigger size and keep everybody healthy it showed what we needed to build numbers wise to see success.”
Stock found out firsthand what it took to oversee some of the giant events that MELHS plays host to also, with the Turkey Tip-Off Tournament in boys’ basketball and the First to the Finish 5K, the annual cross country invite at SIUE. The cross country invite included a boys’ race, a girls’ race and a middle school race.
Stock admitted he has a lot of assistance for those events that make them run smoothly.
“They are large events and we really have to credit not only our coaches, but our parents who put in a lot of time to help make those a success,” Stock said. “I can’t do those events by myself. The coaches are very instrumental in getting those events going, whether it’s for cross country, or basketball. Parent volunteers are really what drives those meets and makes them successful.”
Stock joked that he can’t take credit for the excellent hospitality room at the Turkey Tip-Off either, passing the buck to those same parent volunteers.
“I do not take any credit for that, no,” Stock said, chuckling.
Being an AD is a process, a job where you always have to learn and evolve. He plans to keep doing that and polishing his skills to try and push the Knights to the next level.
“I think I can always get better,” Stock said. “There are things I’ve learned throughout the years that will help me in the future. It’s a job that continually changes and brings about new challenges, so it’s just my goal to stay on top of things and making sure I’m staying up on rules and regulations and making sure we’re moving forward as a school. Then individually working with coaches to help them to grow their programs.”
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