Story by Taylor Hodges, Sports Editor
Photo courtesy of Andris Visockis
As I was leaning against a wall in the Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center waiting to speak with Coach Bo, known by others as Terry Bocian, I was trying to picture how the interview might go. Would we just talk about his accomplishments, or would I get to know Coach Bo as the man he is today?
Anyone can write about someone’s accomplishments. How he’s been here for 43 years, grown the college to 26 sports programs from its original nine, served as Athletic Director for 38 of those years, and is in three hall of fames across sports, but I wanted to get away from that a bit and get to know who he really was. With my tape recorder out and a pen and paper ready, I spoke with him for nearly an hour, and let’s just say it ended with smiles on our faces enjoying a couple Tootsie Rolls.
Coach Bo was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was very close with his father who is a World War II veteran and played in one of the local Grand Rapids baseball leagues where he always put on a show. Some might say that’s where he first fell in love with America’s greatest game.
While in high school, he was not your typical jock. He treated everyone with respect and described himself as being just an average middle class kid.
Out of high-school, he chose to attend Grand Rapids Community College where he was offered to play both football and basketball, but ultimately chose basketball where he was named co-captain of the team.
He eventually went on to attend Aquinas College where he received his Bachelor’s, and after coaching at Catholic Central, explained that he faced a decision between being a graduate assistant at Central Michigan University or Western Michigan University, and after consulting with his wife, found it best to remain here and take the opportunity to coach at Aquinas while simultaneously completing his Master’s through Western.
While at Aquinas, Coach Bo was hired as the assistant basketball and baseball coach while also being named the intramural director. The following year, he was hired as an English professor making it his fourth position here at the college.
When asked what his greatest memories were while being a coach and athletic director at Aquinas, he said he loved seeing students get an opportunity to play and compete. And each game and player he coached holds a special place in his heart.
When he steps down at the end of the year as athletic director, he hopes to leave behind a bright future for incoming athletes and coaches. While we were talking, he made it very apparent that even though the media is congratulating him on all of his accomplishments, that it was the entire staff at Aquinas, from the housekeeping department at Sturrus to the receptionists, that helped built this program into what it is today. “It’s a we-go, not ego,” he would say during the interview.
He kept reiterating that when he does retire he hopes a lot of his time is spent with his family. He and his wife have four children and plenty of grandchildren to keep them busy. He said that he doesn’t need anything fancy when he retires, as long as he has the basic necessities he will be fine.
Towards the tail end of our interview, I asked him if he were a candy, which would he be and why? To my dismay, and hopefully he doesn’t mind me putting this in here, he was overtaken by a memory that you could tell meant a lot to him.
As he began to choke up, he told me that early on in his career, Sister Helen Louise Brogger used to have a bucket of Tootsie Rolls sitting outside her office that kids were eager to grab. When she passed away, he kept the tradition going and to this day keeps a bucket full of Tootsie Rolls outside his office.
Throughout our interview, it was apparent to me that he has a tremendous amount of love for this school and all of its students, not just student-athletes. While all of his accomplishments speak for themselves, what he will be remembered most for is his out-going personality and willingness to lend a hand to anyone who needs it. I think I can speak for the majority of this school when I say Coach Bo holds a special place in our hearts and will be thoroughly missed. While we are confident that whoever comes after him will do a great job, it won’t be the same.
About the writer…
Taylor Hodges is a senior majoring in Sport Management/ Business Administration. He is the sports editor for The Saint and interns with the public relations department for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He hopes to one day break into the hockey business as a General Manager, but until then, encourages you to follow him on Twitter and download his mixtape.