By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Ralph Ernest “Skip” Brock won his 400th game as a high school basketball coach on Friday night.
Brock’s Mount Vernon Mountaineers beat visiting Lamar 62-31 in the Big 8 Conference.
Brock, 54, is a 1977 graduate of Joplin Parkwood High School and in his 25th season as a head coach. An average of 16 wins is commendable. He’s lost 273 games against what he believes has been a competitive schedule during his career. He’s disappointed but not discouraged with a lack of a state title on his resume.
He’s been at Mount Vernon long enough — two stints totaling 17 seasons — that when you hear Mount Vernon mentioned in sports talk you might think of Brock. He was at Camdenton for seven seasons between Mount Vernon.
Several of the Mount Vernon teams have reached at least the first round of he MSHSAA playoffs and the Mountaineers are coming off a fourth place in Class 3.
Brock, who teaches four classes daily and is the athletics director, replied quickly when asked on Saturday the prerequisites for winning.
“Longevity and outstanding players,” Brock said. “I’ve has some great assistant coaches (currently Mike Ray and Jim Kleine). The coaches I assisted before becoming a head coach helped me so much. I realized, coming out of college, I didn’t know enough.”
Brock, who played for Russ Kaminsky and Bill Gatlin at Parkwood, worked under Phil Lewis at both Memorial High School and Joplin — a total of four years — and Denny Chenoweth at East Newton for a year. Plus, a season under Robert Corn at Missouri Southern.
“Then, there’s my wife Lori,” Brock said. “She’s been invaluable to me as a basketball wife, mom, friend and supporter. People forget the sacrifices of a coach’s wife.”
Brock wasn’t sure whom the Mountaineers beat for his first win.
“I’m afraid to say. I do remember some of the circumstances,” Brock said.
Brock adheres to there’s more to the coaching experience than winning.
“I enjoy the relationships you build with players and coaches,” he said. “You keep in contact with players long after they have graduated. A lot of great coaches haven’t reached the MSHSAA Final Four.
“We continue to pursue a state championship,” Brock said. “That’s an important goal for every program in Missouri.
“But you remember the journeys with each team rather than a particular game,” Brock said. “Each team has its own personality.”
Brock, who grew up in Joplin “dreaming to play basketball for Coach Kaminsky,” said he’s a history buff of the game.
“I respect the game. I appreciate a Kaminsky and an L.M. Carson (former Mount Vernon coach in both basketball and football),” Brock said. “I hope I understand their contributions. Coach Kaminsky continues to influence my coaching.”
Lori (formerly Ackerson of Neosho), who’s a counselor with the Springfield Public Schools’ Phelps Center for Gifted Education, and Skip have three children and they’ve followed dad’s footsteps.
Oldest son Matt, whose wife is Sheryl, is assistant men’s coach at NAIA power Columbia College. Mrs. James Copeland (Abi) is assistant girls coach at Springfield Central. Son Tomas is a graduate assistant at Northwest Missouri State.
The Copelands have the only grandchildren — Anabelle, 4, and Mya, 2.
Skip, who has degrees from Missouri Southern and Missouri State, is the son of the late Nancy Brock and Ralph and Susan Brock.
The current Mountaineers, who opened 2-3, are 19-5 overall and 5-0 in the Big 8 after beating Lamar.
But the Mountaineers face a rugged week, Brock said, to finish the regular season and league play. They must travel to tackle Seneca (Tuesday night) and Carl Junction.