Leaving a legacy

Director of Recreation Sports and Facilities Gary Harms retires

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Director of Recreation Sports and Facilities Gary Harms

Devin Ulrich, Assistant Sports Editor

Director Gary Harms spent 35 years leading Recreation Sports and Facilities at UW-Whitewater. He started as coordinator of intramural sports in 1985 and was named director of recreation sports and facilities in 1990. Harms looks back at his Whitewater with pride, and talks about what his future holds in retirement.

What were some of your favorite memories at UW-Whitewater?

I think my favorite memory was building the Williams Center addition, Kachel Fieldhouse. We built that in 1999, started construction and then opened in 2001. Just to build that opened up so many more facilities for athletics and recreation for us by having that addition.

What are some of your most proudest accomplishments at UW-Whitewater?

I saw every championship we won at Whitewater besides the first two we won since I arrived in 1985, seeing those was one of the proudest things for me because I think our facilities have a lot to do with recruiting great student athletes and coaches. I think to help propel us to a lot of those national championships certainly was having great facilities. I’m not saying that’s why we won – because we had great teams and coaches, but I’m saying having those facilities helped us get great student athletes. The other thing I’m most proud of was working with the students in our office and making a difference in students’ lives. Not only the students we employed through Rec Sports over the years, but also the recreation sports they are able to participate in. Lastly all of our athletic facilities we have named, the courts or fields inside or outside. I actually worked with every one of those people that got facilities named after themselves, so that is something you don’t see very often and I thought was pretty cool.

What is the biggest thing you will miss about not being at UW-Whitewater everyday?

I think the day-to-day working with colleagues and staff on campus both in the Williams Center and across campus. I was close with a lot of people on campus as friends, and still am friends with many of them. Then working with the students everyday, and all the great sports events we held. I’ll miss just working with people and being involved with the day-to-day lives of the students and staff.

Do you still plan to be active in supporting UW-Whitewater athletics?

Absolutely. We will be very active and I will work athletic events whenever they need me. Whether it’s working on the scoreboard or whatever they need me to do. We will support all teams, as my wife and I are big fans of Warhawk athletics. Also, just being in the building whenever possible. Obviously that’s difficult right now with Covid and everything, but we will be around to use the facilities to keep up our own health. We definitely will be around a lot for Warhawk events and hopefully I’ll be working some of those as well once we start sports up again.

Do you have any big plans upcoming with the new free time on your hands?

Well two of our three kids live in the Phoenix area and one daughter lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, and we just had our first grandson. So we have been spending time in Iowa visiting our grandson – a lot of back and forth since it’s only a few hours away. Then we plan to winter down in Phoenix, Arizona and we are avid golfers, so we will be doing that. We plan to stay in Whitewater in our springs, summers, and falls and the cold winter months in Arizona.

What have you been up to since retirement has started for you?

Improving my golf game, I certainly have been playing a lot of golf. Then visiting family as well, I have brothers and sisters in different states, and helping my parents move. Also continuing to get a lot of exercise and then staying up to date with what is happening on campus at UW-Whitewater.

Harms witnessed many great athletic achievements during his tenure at UW-Whitewater, and was a key component in creating the Warhawk culture that exists in sports today. He will continue as Chairman of the Board for the UW-Whitewater Athletics Hall of Fame. 

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