EMU marks dedication of Dean L. Rockwell Wrestling Facility
YPSILANTI - More than 100 people, including 25 former Eastern Michigan University wrestlers and three former wrestling coaches, paid tribute to the late Dean Rockwell during the dedication of EMU’s “Dean L. Rockwell Wrestling Facility” Jan. 21.
With a donation by Rockwell, who died in 2005 at age 93, Gymnasium A in the Warner Building was recently renovated into a wrestling facility.
“There are new mats, new lighting, a new air filtration system, additional weight (and stationary bike) equipment, a head coach’s office and meeting rooms for the assistant coach and the team,” said Interim Athletic Director Bob England.
During the dedication, England described the facility; Judge Don Shelton, a member of the Board of Regents’ Athletic Advisory Committee, read a historical tribute in honor of Rockwell; and the former wrestling All-Americans and coaches were recognized.
The dedication concluded with an unveiling of a stainless steel pedestal and a sculpture of a bronze rock in remembrance of Rockwell, who was often referred to as “Rock.” The side of the rock included individual gold nameplates of EMU’s NAIA and NCAA wrestling All-Americans from 1965-99.
“Dean was a long-time donor to athletics and the College of Education at EMU,” said Tom Stevick, vice president of advancement and executive director of the EMU Foundation.
Upon his death, Rockwell left significant funds to the University to renovate the wrestling facilities. His family and friends donated additional funds and the renovation was completed in December 2005. The total cost of the renovation was paid by private support.
The next phase of the renovation is to build locker rooms, England said. Some funds from Rockwell’s donation remain for that project, but completion of the locker rooms will require additional fundraising, England said.
Rockwell graduated from EMU, then Michigan State Normal College, in 1935. While at MSNC, he competed in football, track and wrestling and was president of Phi Sigma Epsilon and the Men’s Union. Rockwell excelled in wrestling, winning the campus heavyweight championship and began what would become a lifelong love of and commitment to the advancement of that sport.
After graduation, he taught and coached various sports at three Michigan high schools.
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. During D-Day, Rockwell successfully led a group of soldiers in the Normandy invasion, earning both American and French awards for valor.
After the war, he went back to coaching and led the Greco-Roman wrestling team in the 1964 Olympics. He also served on three Olympic wrestling committees; founded the Michigan Wrestling Club in 1965; wrestled professionally and chaired the National AAU Wrestling Committee from 1966 to 1968.
He was a member of the EMU Athletic Hall of Fame and the EMU College of Education Hall of Fame.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
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