Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.
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When No. 15 swishes a 25-footer for the Spurs, it’s hard to tell which is sweeter. The sound of the ball falling through the net or the sound of the call that follows: "Matt Bonner, for THREEEEEEEE!!!"
The call begins low, from the depths of a rumbling baritone, then rises for five, six counts until it explodes across the AT&T Center. Fans on their feet. Screams in the air. Electricity crackling everywhere.The only thing missing is a blast of confetti.
Kevin "Big Kev" Brock turns a routine three-point call into a celebration with enough energy to kick start the Macy’s Day Parade. The call lasts almost long enough for you to leave your seat, grab a hot dog and return to "EEEE!!!" ripping through the air.
The man has pipes. Passion, too. "I’m a huge basketball fan," he says. "I’m the original cheerleader. I call the game the way I want to hear it."
There’s a little growl of former Bulls’ PA announcer Ray Clay in Brock’s voice.There’s a touch of the late Myron Cope (Pittsburgh Steelers) in Brock’s introduction of DeJuan Blair. Like a skilled musician, Brock weaves the influences of others into his work to create an original sound.
This is how we do it!
Brock is an accidental public address announcer. He played high school football in Indianapolis, Ind. until he broke an ankle his senior season. Teammates, relatives, friends from church all said the same thing: You’ve got a good voice. Use it.
He didn’t want to hear that. Brock aspired to coach football and teach high school history. So in the fall of 1990, he enrolled in a Bible College in Pennsylvania to study education. It was a painful, lonely time. His mother, Margo Everett, was serving her country in Iraq as an Army nurse. Margo wrote regularly until Jan. 1991 when the U.S. bombed Kuwait and the Gulf War began.
The letters stopped. Brock found himself wondering, worrying, watching CNN war coverage until 3 a.m. He’d stagger out of bed hours later to attend class, his mind on his mom, his body half asleep. "I couldn’t concentrate very well," he says. His grades plummeted.
He had no siblings to call. An only child, Brock spent lots of time by himself. "My parents split when I was 7," he says. "On Feb. 14, 1979, my mother enlisted and said, ‘I’m married to the United States Army.’ She was a combat ready nurse.
"It toughened me. My mother raised me as a single mother. I grew up faster. I could not get in trouble or her career would be affected. I knew my mother was serving the country, and I knew other kids I hung with whose parents were serving. They always prepared you for the possibility they may have to be gone."
January bled into February. No word from mom. In the wee hours of the morning, Brock watched scud missiles explode on TV. He studied the crawl at the bottom of the screen, reading the list of U.S. casualties, wondering if “Margo Everett" might appear.
He knew military protocol: Officers arrive at front doors to inform of a soldier’s death. But he wondered: Will the Army know I’m in college? Will they know which one? So he kept watching CNN and wound up on academic probation. February turned into March. He heard nothing.
Spring arrived and a notice appeared. There was a package in his mailbox. "I thought it was from my grandmother or from friends in Indianapolis," he says. "And all of a sudden I had a shoebox with letters. The instructions on top said, ‘Read this one first.’"
The box was from Margo. As bombs rained around her, she had written faithfully to Kevin, 26 letters in all. More than two months elapsed before she could mail them. "It was probably one of the most relieved days of my life," he says, "knowing that my mom was all right."
Mother returned from Iraq to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and her only child knew what he had to do. "I could have lost my mom in the war," he says, "so I needed to be in San Antonio."
Brock finished out the school year, packed his 1989 Ford Escort and drove to South Texas in the summer of 1991.
Once here, he decided to do something with that voice. Brock took a job at KTFM, enrolled in a radio/television/film program at San Antonio College and let the magic roll.
Coach and teach? Brock’s golden voice was in demand. He worked as an overnight disc jockey at one station, did part-time sports at another. He received advice from late sports columnist and local broadcaster Dan Cook – "Stay out of TV, go with radio" – and ran with it.
Eventually, Brock quit school and got behind the public address microphone at UTSA basketball games. One gig led to more. Alamo Bowls. Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournaments. NCAA basketball regionals. He became the voice of the Silver Stars. He became in-arena host at Spurs games.
His voice, personality and infectious energy made him a fan favorite, which led to a new gig in 2008: Spurs PA announcer. It’s a job he couldn’t have imagined in high school, when he wanted to play ball and everyone else recognized a different calling. It’s a job he couldn’t have imagined in college when, in the dead of night, he searched for his mother’s name on the CNN crawl.
Today, mom is a retired Lt. Col., who teaches aspiring nurses. Brock couldn’t be more proud – "She’s a hero," he says – or more happy. He’s a father himself now, lives close to his mother, and enjoys using that God-given voice.
If not for his mother’s service in the Gulf War, Kevin Brock might be in Indianapolis, coaching football, teaching history. But after Margo fulfilled her calling in Iraq, her son came to San Antonio and found his own, behind a microphone.