Brock Pappas Continues Family’s Valparaiso University Legacy
Junior Brock Pappas (Valparaiso, Ind. / Washington Township) remembers attending Valparaiso University men’s basketball games as a child and looking up to the players. Now, he’s one of them.
The University and the basketball program have been a part of Pappas’ life for as long as he can remember. His mother Lisa has worked on campus for over three decades and currently serves as an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. His older brother Bryce and his father Steve are both Valpo graduates.
“It’s amazing to think that I’m on the team after all those years of coming to games,” Pappas said. “It’s still kind of surreal. My parents are very supportive and proud. They’re happy that I decided to do this and dedicate myself to basketball as well as my academics.”
And the academic aspect is extremely important to Pappas, who is majoring in nursing and has hopes of entering the pediatric realm.
“I’ve always wanted to work with kids in some capacity,” he said. “I thought about being a teacher, but I took some classes in high school and realized that nursing would be a good fit for me. Nursing is very tough even without basketball, but the demands of both help keep me organized.”
Pappas spent his freshman year focused solely on academics before deciding to try out for a walk-on spot as a sophomore in 2019-2020.
“I thought about trying out for the team as a freshman, but I was worried it would be too much to handle between school work and basketball,” he said. “I wanted to focus on school for my first year, but I was still training every day and keeping myself ready in case I wanted to give this a go. I talked to Coach (Luke) Gore and Coach Rob (Holloway) at the end of my freshman year, they brought me in and the rest is history.”
The Valpo walk-on appeared in five games during his first season after starting all four years of high school at Washington Township, where he was also a four-year starter in both baseball and volleyball. When he stepped on the Athletics-Recreation Center floor for the first time last season, Pappas became the first Washington Township graduate to play Division-I college basketball.
“Coming from a very small school, it’s a great honor to be able to play at this level,” he said. “In high school, I played with my best friends since kindergarten, and it was a lot of fun to be able to go out and compete with them every night. There were only 80 people in my graduating class, so it’s special to represent Washington Township on this high stage.”
Pappas is hoping the stage gets even higher for Valpo basketball in 2020-2021. The team was one win away from the NCAA Tournament in 2019-2020 and has that ultimate goal in mind as it prepares for the new season.
“We’re motivated and everyone is buying into our plan,” Pappas said. “We have great leaders on the team. We have our own separate meetings without the coaches and have player-organized Zooms. Everyone has bought into the goal of making the NCAA Tournament.”
Pappas is well aware of his role as a walk-on and takes pride in helping his teammates day in and day out.
“I’m here for the love of the game,” he said. “Since I was 4 years old and picked up a basketball for the first time, I’ve just loved it. Of course I’d love to have playing time eventually, but for right now I’m here to help the team in any way possible. I’m very thankful for this opportunity.”