For Rick O'Block, being the radio color commentator for Skyhawks football is only natural: He's an FLC alumnus, and has officiated football games for more than fifteen years.
And broadcasting the Skyhawks is also a way to say thanks to what FLC has given him, he says.
O'Block (Accounting, '85) has announced for Four Corners Broadcasting's coverage of Skyhawks football for the past four years, this season working alongside play-by-play announcer Mark Jastorff.
As a color commentator, O'Block offers the technical analysis of each play, drawing on his 17 years of experience officiating regional high school football games as a referee and line judge.
But for O'Block, that's not enough for his affection for both sports and his alma mater: He also hosts a Thursday night local-athletics interview radio show.
For the last two-plus years, O'Block's “Sports Block with Rick O'Block” has aired Thursday nights on KIUP, Durango's ESPN affiliate.
“The radio show itself is to highlight local athletes and events in the region,” O'Block explains. “I’ve interviewed high school kids all the way up to an 80-year-old cyclist. I do it all, I get the interviews, I research, I edit it and do the whole thing.”
“I also try to get coaches from Fort Lewis, and not just football, but basketball, soccer, and volleyball, on the show,” he adds. “I like to build connection with the community and the college, to bridge that gap a little bit.”
Why does O'Block do all this for FLC sports? “I like helping Fort Lewis in that way,” he says simply.
That's because, O'Block says, FLC helped him.
“For the last 30 years I’ve been running and managing practices and hospital functions,” O'Block explains. “And without that accounting degree from Fort Lewis, I wouldn’t be doing this. I can directly attribute it to that. They gave me the basis for all the stuff I do.”
Today, O'Block is the Practice Administrator for Specialty Services at Mercy Regional Medical Center, based in Durango. Like sports, it's a field that relies heavily on managing teams and is driven by numbers.
“It's a pretty big job,” O'Block says. “I’m the administrator over the specialty practices at Mercy. We have 14 clinics, a hundred staff, 62 providers, and about $40 million in revenue.”
“I literally count those blessings every day,” he adds. “I have a great job that Fort Lewis prepared me for. That’s how I look at college, as a vehicle to prepare you for what’s after college. And I was prepared when I got out of school. So I have nothing but high praise for what they’re doing, and what they’ve done for me.”
That's a pretty good commentary, both on and off the field, from one who knows.