Marlin Broek

The Valley Christian football team became a state title contender in recent years. Not bad after humble beginnings for the school when Marlin Broek became its first athletic director 30 years ago before retiring at the end of this last school year.

AFN File

From farms and Field of Dreams to Phoenix, another longtime East Valley-molder of young minds has moved on to smaller-but-better things.

In 1970, long before most of any of this existed, Marlin and Shirley Broek moved here from Iowa. Shirley found work as a teacher at Phoenix Christian Grade School.

Marlin went to Arizona State for extra education and they eventually found their way to Page, where Marlin became a history teacher and coach. In 1982, Broek came to Valley Christian, which at that point was basically a church in Tempe with 25 kids and no athletic programs whatsoever.

So he got to work, and coached boys basketball for 14 years, plus soccer, baseball, and for the past 15 years, boys golf. Along the way V.C. became an AIA member in the late 1980s and eventually built its own campus in Chandler in the late 1990s. Both now and at various points, the Trojans have been a track/girls basketball/volleyball/football powerhouse.

Exactly 30 years and 59 total state championships later, Broek has called it a career as the school’s only previous athletic director. He retired in May and stayed around to help new AD Scott Timmer make the transition.

But not before a going-away present (Alaskan cruise this month) and the campus’ athletic facilities being named in his honor.

The last Valley Christian sporting event he attended was his golf team’s third-place finish last weekend at the small-schools state championships.

He has touched every sport on campus one way or another and leaves with the one last thing he wanted to accomplish before walking away.

The new softball field has a spot, just west of the campus all mapped out. It will be a nice location after playing at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. Everything else should be in place.

Broek still loves dealing with the student athletes and giving them the best experience possible during their time at Valley Christian, but as all athletic directors can attest to, they don’t get that chance like they once did.

He loathed the paperwork that ADs now spend 60 percent of their time doing, but loved to talk about the hundreds of scholar-athletes, multi-faceted kids the school has produced in his tenure. He was more than eager to talk about former graduates’ current lives and was adamant that girls sports should have equal opportunity to succeed on campus as the boys.

A youthful, more energetic vision is being sought now, as the demands of these jobs become increasingly numerous and difficult. But as Broek showed in his work and leadership for the past three decades, he knew what buttons to push, and when.

That includes knowing “when” to say “when.”

• Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at or (480) 898-6576.


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