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Arena named after GRCC legend

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By Austin Metz
Editor in Chief

The sports arena inside the Ford Fieldhouse at Grand Rapids Community College has been named to honor former player, coach and athletic director Gordon Hunsberger.

“Historically, GRCC hasn’t done a lot of on-campus naming,” said Andrew Bowne, Associate Vice President of College Advancement. “It has all happened in the last five to six years or so beginning with the M-Tec Buildings.”

The arena, which recently received $1.1 million in renovations including a new floor and sound system, was renovated for the first time since it was opened in 1976.

“It was because of the gift given by Dave and Carol Van Andel that we had this opportunity,” Bowne said. “Because of the amount of the donation, they were given the opportunity to name the arena if they pleased.”

“We had a conversation with the Van Andels about the naming process and they said to come back with a proposal for a college-related name,” Bowne said.

The decision was then placed in the hands of faculty, staff and coaches around GRCC and to Bowne, the choice was easy.

“We talked to faculty, staff and coaches and they came back with one name and it was pretty much unanimous,” Bowne said.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Gordon “Gordy” Hunsberger. “I was proud that all those people would think of me and that they appreciated all that I did while there.”

The naming was announced at the beginning of the semester and it came as quite a surprise to Hunsberger.

“Gordy and his wife had no idea this was coming,” Bowne said. “President Ender and I had lunch with the two of them and all he kept saying was that there had to be someone more qualified than him but really there isn’t.”

Gordon Hunsberger took courses at what used to be Grand Rapids Junior College and played one year for the football team. He was hired in 1956 as a coach and ended up coaching the Raiders to two bowl games in his 28 years of coaching at the college.

After coaching, Hunsberger became the athletic director and it was at this time that athletics at GRCC became what they are today.

“During this time, the Athletic Department experienced tremendous growth,” Bowne wrote in a recent press release. “In 1976, the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse and Natatorium was opened, providing state of the art facilities for the college’s athletic and wellness programs.”

Hunsberger said this has all been a humbling experience for him and mentioned the growth of GRCC as what he is most proud of in his time at GRCC.

“My favorite memory would be when we moved from the old West Building to the new Ford Fieldhouse,” Hunsberger said. The ‘old West Building’ Hunsberger referred to is today known as the GRCC Music Center.

Students who enter the arena will now find ‘Gordon Hunsberger Arena’ painted on the walls but there is still one more step to be taken.

“We will be putting his name on both sides of the actual court as well,” Bowne said. “We just couldn’t get it done at this time because of classes and sports that are going on right now.”

The donation given by the Van Andels was given to the Capital Campaign which allows donors to designate a gift to a specific project or scholarship or give the gift unrestricted within the Capital Campaign.

“This gift is a reflection of a truly generous spirit and heart,” Bowne said when talking about the Van Andels.

Other buildings on campus that have been renamed include the Peter and Pat Cook Hall, the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, the Wisner-Bottrall ATC Building, Calkins Science Center, and the Thompson and Tassell M-Tec Buildings.