Fort Mill High wrestling head coach Chris Brock is resigning his position after 23 years heading up the program.

There is a tradition in wrestling that when people retire after their last match, they usually place their shoes in the center of the mat.

Symbolically, Fort Mill head wrestling coach Chris Brock is doing that. Brock told his team recently, that after 23 seasons as the head of the wrestling program, he is resigning effective at the end of the school year.

Having accomplished nearly everything he set out to do with the program, Brock, 58, said it is time to do something else. He still plans on staying at the school as a teacher.

“For the last 33 years, I have been doing it pretty much year-round in some form,” he said. “My life has been built around this. I have no regrets. It has been incredible. I am getting older and my parents are getting older. It is time I make some other things priority other than a sport.”

Brock said he had thought about stepping down for the past three years, but knew going into this past season, it was going to be his last no matter how it turned out – state championship or not.

“I knew this was going to be it going into this year,” he said. “I knew this was going to be my last year regardless how the season turned out. Now I am glad we did win (a state title), because that is something I would have had to live with for the rest of my life. That would haunt me.”

The sport of wrestling has been a part of his life for nearly 50 years he said starting with going to his brother’s practices when he was just 8-years-old.

“I have been around it a long time and its time I try something else besides wrestling,” he said.

From wrestling in high school to college, Brock made the transition to assistant coach at Rock Hill High for a decade before coming to Fort Mill in 2000.

During his time at Fort Mill, Brock started the youth wrestling program at the elementary age level that helped to funnel and grow the sport across Fort Mill Township. The youth wrestling program morphed into numerous state champions on the JV and middle school levels for multiple wrestlers.

Over his 23 years at Fort Mill, he amassed a 455-88 career record. He has guided Fort Mill to 11 Region championships, seven Upper State title appearances and the 2023 5A state championship at the team level, taking a program that he had high hopes for and turning it into one of the perennial powers in the state.

On an individual basis, he has helped to produce 23 wrestlers who have won more than 100 matches in their career at Fort Mill. He has also helped to guide 20 different wrestlers to a total of 28 individual state championships. He has also overseen two national champions and at least 15 All-Americans.

The one thing he said he was the proudest of is what he has built during his time at Fort Mill.

“The ultimate goal for me was to build this program into one of respect,” Brock said. “When I left Rock Hill, I was very aware I was leaving probably two or three state titles in the stable there because of who we had returning and who we had on JV. I had a lot of people telling me that I would never win here and I couldn’t produce here. Well 28 (individual) state champions, 450 wins and a bunch of All-Americans later, I am proud of that. I do feel like the program is in a better state than when I found it in terms of a feeder system and talent in the room. It is a strong program now and I feel good about leaving it where it is.”

The youth program that Brock started has paid dividends for wrestling in Fort Mill and allowed other local schools such as Nation Ford and Catawba Ridge to model theirs after what he did.

“The same year we started, we started pulling middle school kids over here to be apart of our JV team,” he said. “It has grown ever since. It is quite a statement when 10 of your starters who just won a state title, you have known since 4 or 5-years-old. Some of them I have known their entire life. That is critical. In a sport like wrestling, you have got to have that. Wrestling is an art form and you have got to teach them. It is not something that comes naturally.”

His influence at the school, across the town of Fort Mill and at the state level in the sport is something that didn’t go unnoticed.

“Coach Brock has built the Fort Mill High School wrestling program to be consistently one of the best in South Carolina, and this year reached the ultimate goal by winning the 5A state championship,” said Fort Mill athletic director Dwayne Hartsoe. “I am sad that he is retiring as wrestling coach, but glad that I have been here to learn and admire the job he has done here building champions for life through the sport of wrestling. His legacy will be at FMHS forever.”

Brock said he will miss the training aspect of the sport and the development of the wrestlers. Another aspect he said he knows he will miss is the competition.

“I don’t know what I am going to do to fill that void,” he joked. “I am too old for bull riding, so maybe I will join the local Canasta club and play some cards.”

Brock said he still wants to be involved on a volunteer basis and would be willing to still help where he can. But he is also looking forward to a Christmas without wrestling being scheduled around the holiday.

“I feel like I have a lot to offer the program, not necessarily on the mat, but off the mat in terms of administrative support, financial support and community support,” he said. “I still know these guys. I want to see these guys I have known for so long, finish out strong. I can’t honestly tell you what a teacher’s real Christmas break is like. I have never had one because I was coaching and traveling. That is how it has always been. I spend as much time up here (at the school) in the summer as I do during the school year. Everything has been dictated around it.”

One thing Brock said he is looking forward to seeing before the end of the school year is the state championship banner hanging from the rafters in the Fort Mill High gym.

“I don’t know why, but that banner means more to me than anything,” he said. “I have been in that gym for 23 years and I have looked up there at all those banners and felt like I have not earned my place yet, I haven’t earned my keep. I will be excited about hanging that banner in there more than anything.”

Mac Banks:, @fortprep