Larry Happel, longtime sports information director at Central College, recently was honored when the national championship trophy case inside P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium was named in his honor.
In front of friends, alumni, athletes and other supporters of Central athletics, Happel was presented the plaque that will adorn the trophy case in the M. Joan Kuyper Farver Atrium immediately inside the renovated athletics complex. Central has won 11 NCAA Division III national team championships.
“It’s fitting, in a way, they chose the national champions case, even though I don’t consider my name worthy of being included there,” Happel says. “During the expansion process and in branding the building, the one thing I insisted on, and it was non-negotiable, was that we need to honor the national champions.
“Our 11 national championships are Central’s heritage. Those are our magic moments, those are our milestones and the best of what Central athletics has achieved competitively. I view preserving that heritage as a key part of my job.”
Happel, a 1981 Central graduate, has spent 40 years in his role with Central athletics and was on staff for 10 of the 11 national titles. Central’s most recent national championship came in softball in 2003.
The naming of the trophy case in Happel’s honor came through the generous support of many friends including Steve Muller (Central College Class of 1985); Jason (Class of 1983) and Betsy Vines; Dave (Class of 1983) and Denise Boll Baker (Class of 1984); Dave (Class of 1961) and Ardie Pals Sutphen (Class of 1964); Mark (Class of 1980) and Lori Kooiker Ellingson (Class of 1982); Sam (Class of 1986) and Jill Van Zee Vande Weerd (Class of 1991); Tom (Class of 1986) and Debbie Koos; Steve and Sophie Mathonnet-Vander Well; George Wares (Class of 1976) and Alicia O’Brien; and Al (Class of 1975) and Jo (Class of 1974) Dorenkamp.
Above: Larry Happel, center, is joined by friends, from left, Steve Muller, Al Dorenkamp, Mark Ellingson and Sam Vande Weerd after the national championship trophy case inside P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium was named in Happel’s honor.