It’s safe to say that Brock Roder’s heart has always belonged in McFarland.
He was raised there, played sports in all four years at McFarland High School including football, basketball, golf, and track and field, continued as an athlete at Madison College and eventually became general manager of Spartan Bowl. He has three children and still coaches sports. His accomplishments as a father and husband match the successes he had in athletics. He’s had a good life filled with fond memories.
“I love being in McFarland and raising kids here,” said Roder, who graduated from McFarland in 1999. “There’s plenty you wish you could change, but it’s not always an option.”
McFarland High School is different compared to how it looked when Roder first walked through the doors in the mid-1990s. In his senior year, the school went through a major remodeling including construction of a new gym.
“A lot has changed even from then with the new pool, auditorium and turf football field,” said Roder, who displayed some exceptional talents on the football team when it was still grass in 1998.
That year, the Spartans finished with a 6-3 regular season record and advanced to the WIAA playoffs under head coach Scott Rice. Roder was dominant as a wide receiver on offense and a defensive back on defense.
Roder got the season off to a good start by returning a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown in the Spartans’ 34-7 win over Mount Horeb. The Spartans would go on to win their next three games including a 27-0 victory over Lodi, led by Roder’s five receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Roder returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown as McFarland moved to 4-0 with a 34-0 over Lakeside Lutheran. But the winning streak ended with two straight defeats to Wisconsin Heights and Poynette to drop the Spartans to 4-2.
McFarland recovered for a 46-6 triumph over Sugar River as Roder caught four passes for 99 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans lost the following week to Columbus 21-14 but routed Evansville/Albany 27-6 in the regular season finale. McFarland’s first round opponent in the playoffs was Jefferson. Roder did his part with a 43-yard touchdown pass, but the Spartans’ season ended in 31-14 loss to the Eagles.
Roder attained All-Capitol Conference first team honors on offense and defense. He finished out his high school athletic career on the boys’ basketball and boys’ golf teams.
Roder said he was fortunate to have great coaches at McFarland that helped him develop as an athlete.
“Chuck Kubicek was my basketball coach. Gary Oftedahl was my golf coach and Bruce Fischer for track. I was very lucky to have the coaches I had, but Brad Minter will forever be the best coach I ever had,” said Roder, referring to McFarland’s long-time athletic director and assistant football coach. “He held me to a higher standard and pushed me to be great. He was just an amazing guy.”
Playing college roundball
After graduating from high school, Roder enrolled at Madison Area Technical College and joined the men’s basketball team.
“I ran into (former basketball teammate) Jon Severson in the hallway one day, and he told me he was getting ready for tryouts,” Roder said. “I didn’t know they even had a team. We ended up going to tryouts and we both made the team. It was a great experience and I still have records on the Madison College all-time list.”
Roder is the men’s basketball team’s second all-time career leader in assists, second all-time for steals in a season, ninth in free-throw percentage in a season, and 13th in career assists.
Roder transferred to UW-Whitewater in 2001 and made the football team, but he was sidelined by an injury.
“I separated my shoulder before the season opener and never made it back,” he said. “I left the team halfway through the season.”
A life in bowling
Yet, Roder continued at Whitewater and earned a degree in physical education in 2004. Then, came an opportunity he couldn’t turn down: to be general manager of Spartan Bowl in McFarland. He remained in that position until 2016.
“There weren’t many teaching jobs at the time so a steady income was good,” Roder said.
“Running Spartan Bowl was great. The best part of the job was getting to know the customers, and I have carried on those friendships with me still to this day. It was great getting to know strangers and regulars.”
Managing a bowling alley requires working nights and weekends, and eventually, Roder longed for a job with normal hours. He now works in sales for Legacy Exteriors in McFarland.
Roder lives a good life with his wife Nikki and their three children: 14-year-old Braylan, 11-year-old Ava and 7-year-old Kashton.
His kids have been active in sports, and Roder, who has 15 years of coaching experience, has been supporting their different athletic interests.
“I coached Braylan in baseball, basketball and football,” Roder said. “He is now a freshman so we have one U14 baseball tournament left that I will coach him in and then that may be it for my coaching career with him.”
In July 2019, Braylan competed in the MLB Pitch, Hit and Run contest during the All-Star Game in Cleveland.
Roder also coached his daughter in softball and will soon spend his first year coaching her in basketball. He also helped Kashton with flag football and baseball.
During his college years, Roder coached McFarland High School freshman and junior varsity boys basketball and also served as a coach for the school’s freshman football squad.
In several years, Roder may have another child to coach as his wife Nikki is expecting another baby in February,
“I love coaching and trying to get the most out of each kid,” Roder said. “I am hard on the kids and want to see them succeed and when they do I am their No. 1 fan. That’s the best part.”