Rick Block, has been teaching history to Antigo High School students since the late 1980s. The 2020-21 school year marked his last.
Block graduated from Tigerton High School in 1977, then worked as a logger for five years.
“I grew up on a farm and knew how to use a chainsaw, so I just took whatever work was available,” Block said.
During his time logging, he would have off during the spring season as it was too wet from the snow melting. Block coached girls softball for four years during spring downtime.
During those years, Block would also visit a friend who studied at UW-River Falls.
“For a small-town guy like me, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it,” Block said. “But history was fascinating to me, and I knew I wanted to do some coaching.”
Following a few more visits to UW-River Falls, he said it became more clear that college could be doable for him.
“It didn’t seem as intimidating as I thought it would be after talking to my friend numerous times, especially because he was also studying education and explained some of the work to me,” Block said. “Because I waited to go and was older, I took the studies more serious vs. right out of high school.”
Block graduated from UW-River Falls with a reading and history major, along with a coaching minor.
In 1988, he started working with the Unified School District of Antigo.
“It was encouraging at the time, a small-town guy like me, I had heard of Antigo’s football teams for years. And having the opportunity to come up here and work in the Antigo system was a great feeling,” Block said. “Gordy Schofield was still here at the time, and I got the chance to work and learn from a true legend.”
Schofield was assistant coach from 1953-61 and head coach from 1962-87 for the Antigo varsity football team. His record was 199-41.
Block said it’s difficult to narrow down just a few things he enjoyed while teaching.
“Starting in 1988, I taught students part time and transitioned to full time. Everyone, from the teachers and staff I mentored under, were all very helpful and respectful. I admired them,” Block said. “I’ve met and worked with so many good people that have become friends, not just teachers, but parents, school board staff and all the people I’ve worked with coaching. It’s really been a neat experience overall.”
Block’s replacement has been learning the ropes from him over the last week. Mike McCann will be taking Block’s position after he retires. McCann is an Antigo native and Antigo High School graduate.
Block said he told Clint Rogers, high school principal, at the start of the school year that the 2020-21 year would probably be his last.
“I will be turning 62 this year, and it’s time to retire,” said Block. “I made sure to leave the possibility of still doing some coaching open.”
During retirement, he will still be involved with his family’s farm, as they tap trees for maple syrup. Even throughout his teaching career, he regularly dedicated time to help during syrup season. In the near future, they plan to expand their syrup operation.
Block’s wife works with the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District and will be setting her retirement in stone within the next five years.
“We don’t have any big trips planned just yet but we’ll be looking into that closer to her retirement,” said Block.
A few years back, he started a wholesale Christmas tree operation, which has grown substantially over the years, especially last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the spring and winter months, he will be busy working with a variety of maple and pine trees and for the summer and fall months, he plans to look into some coaching opportunities and new hobbies.
“When I think back, I never would have saw myself doing all the things that I’ve had the opportunity to do,” said Block. “And it’s all because of going into education.”