The top part of the white exterior of the Harris Family Athletic Complex is shown. Tree branches frame the image. The words 'Harris Family Athletic Complex' are on the building in GV Blue.

Dedication of Harris Family Athletic Complex signals wrestling's return

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President Philomena V. Mantella, Director of Athletics Keri Becker, Athletics Department administrators, John and Diane Harris and members of their family dedicated the latest addition to the Grand Valley athletic campus on September 13.

A generous $3 million gift to honor Jack and Dorcas Harris was given by their son, John H. Harris III ’77, his wife, Diane Harris ’76, and their adult children, John H. Harris IV, and Meredith Harris, along with Jack and Dorcas’ son, Thomas L. Harris ’80, and his wife, Tammi Harris. The gift provided substantial financial support in the development of the Harris Family Athletic Complex, which will be the new home of Laker wrestling teams.

“I’m so excited about what men’s and women’s wrestling are going to do for Grand Valley and what they will bring to our athletic department and our institution,” Becker said. “You’re sitting in this new space that’s been made possible by all of you here.” 

In its 26-season span, the program achieved national recognition competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) then at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II level.

Grand Valley won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) championship five times and finished runner-up 10 times. On the national level, the Lakers finished runner-up twice and in fourth place three times at the NAIA national tournament

More than 50 Laker wrestlers were named All-Americans, including Harris, who was a two-time NAIA All-American and a 1988 inductee into the Lakers Hall of Fame.

Padded tables are lined up in a room. GVSU Athletic Training is printed on the wall with an anchor.
The wrestling locker room, dramatically lit with GVSU blue.

“The Harris family began this journey about 30 years ago,” said John Harris.

“We lost wrestling, and it was a grave disappointment to us, and we said, ‘We’ve got to bring it back,’ and we vowed to do it. Now that I’m back here in this space, I have to say it’s quite overwhelming. I want to thank President Mantella. She has a great family pedigree of wrestling, and she understands the value of what the sport brings.” 

Joey Simcoe was hired as men’s head wrestling coach in May after 11 seasons as the head coach at Tiffin University in Ohio. In mid-August, Jake Short was introduced as the women’s head wrestling coach. 

“Thank you to President Mantella and the Harris family,” Simcoe said. “Without your vision, this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you to everyone in this room for making this possible. 

“Grand Valley is the pinnacle of Division II athletics and will continue to be, and we look forward to being a piece to add to that legacy.” 

A full view of the new wrestling complex. It is connected to the fieldhouse and is white and brick with bright blue accents.

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