There is little debate as to the stature of Amy Harrison (’72) in UCR intercollegiate athletics history. As a student from 1968 to 1972, Harrison lettered in women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis, softball and track and field and was named the UCR Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year three times. She was elected into the UCR Hall of Fame in 1986.
While her athletic achievements took place well before the current generation of student-athletes were born, Harrison’s name is sure to be on the lips of student-athletes and Highlander fans alike in the next few months as the soon to be refurbished UCR Softball Field becomes Amy S. Harrison Field.
The name change will come on the heels of four months of reconstruction on the stadium that will give it a much needed facelift and will feature the installation of approximately 800 chair back seats. The construction of the seating area and other improvements were made possible by Harrison’s $300,000 gift to the Athletics Department.
“With her generosity, Amy Harrison is showing that one person can make a difference to her alma mater,” Director of Athletics Stan Morrison said. “We are grateful that she was willing to help the student-athletes with this wonderful donation.”
New Head Softball Coach Connie Miner, who served as an assistant coach at UCR from 1999-2001, echoed the thoughts. “This is an unbelievable, from-the-heart gift to her university. It means that our softball field will be able to compete with the schools that have $3 - 4 million facilities. It is a visual indication of the support of the athletics department towards the softball program.
“It is quite flattering and somewhat humbling at the same time,” Harrison said. “To have anything ‘named’ after me appears a little arrogant but makes me feel very proud because I know I “stepped to the plate” so to speak, and worked for and earned every penny that will be used to build this venue. I am also proud that I turned out to be the kind of person who is willing to give it away and share my good fortune with others.”
Harrison, who has been on the UCR Board of Trustees since 1996 and is in her third year as chairman of the board, has long been active in designing and operating education and treatment programs for at risk children. She is the Chief Administrative Officer of ChildhelpUSA, a nation wide organization that focuses on the treatment and prevention of child abuse and is CEO of Altus, a consulting and management company that works with seriously emotionally disturbed children and adolescents and their families. Prior to ChildhelpUSA, she was the President and Chief Operating Officer, and Vice Chair of the Board for Children’ Comprehensive Services, which was a $160 million publicly traded company operating treatment programs in 16 states.
The change to the field – the same site on which she played — will be extra special for Harrison.
“I stood at that plate, batting fourth (“clean-up”) in the lineup many, many times and played third base in more games than I ever thought I would,” she said. “I know first hand what it feels like to take your sport very seriously and train to be the best, and play in substandard conditions. Also, I felt that now that UCR and the women are Division I players, they would feel like a “million bucks” to play in a professional stadium that would draw a larger crowd of spectators and ultimately because of the “rush” of the environment, boost the level of play.”
Minor agreed, saying she is looking forward to the day her team takes to the new field.
“The team is going to feel about six feet tall when they walk into the facility,” Miner said. “It really raises the bar. It helps us in recruiting, getting players to be committed to playing here at UCR.”