Made For This Moment

The 2019-20 Cougar Athletics Winter Preview


“I didn't plan on becoming a coach. I studied business in college. I had some various interests—I even considered going to law school after I graduated—but it wasn’t until my last college game when I realized that I'm not quite ready to give up the game of basketball.”

— Tomas Brock, Columbia College Men's Basketball Coach 

Even though he’s beginning his first college head-coaching job, and even though he didn’t plan on becoming a coach, Tomas Brock has been preparing for this moment for most of his adult life.

He’s had the good fortune of working with two members of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame: for four years as an assistant coach for his predecessor here at Columbia College, Bob Burchard, and as a player for his father, Skip, at Mount Vernon High School in southwest Missouri.

In addition, before joining Burchard’s coaching staff, he had watched from afar as his brother, Matt, held the same assistant’s position at Columbia College for four years. It was during Matt’s final season in Columbia that Tomas gained his first head-coaching experience, at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, where he led the Hornets to the Missouri Class 4 State Championship game. 

Brock has an advantage Burchard didn’t: With the hiring of athletics director James Arnold, Brock’s only job is to coach. “I think the biggest thing—and Bob would have been the first to say this—is with the growth of our department, adding on sports, it was time to have a full-time athletic director. Working with James has been great,” Brock says. 

“He’s got a lot of energy and passion and ideas. All of my interactions have been positive, but definitely different. Coach Burchard did an amazing job leading the athletic department, but this is a healthy transition now that we have this many sports.”

One potential roadblock to success and family tranquility was removed earlier this spring: Matt Brock had been the head coach at American Midwest Conference rival Missouri Baptist since leaving Columbia College in 2015, but has since taken a new head-coaching job at the University of Illinois-Springfield, an NCAA Division II institution. Is Tomas happy Matt’s gone from the conference, or upset they didn’t have the chance to spar from opposing benches?

“Definitely happy. We never liked coaching against each other,” Tomas says. “When we were kids, it might have been fun to compete against each other, but now we’re at a place where we’d rather just cheer for each other.”

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