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Home Sweet Home: Rochester College finally arrives home, honors legendary coach Garth Pleasant with brand new arena

| February 19, 2017 | Comments (0)

ROCHESTER HILLS — Over five decades in the making, and Rochester College’s men’s basketball program has finally arrived home.

Not from a long road trip.

Not from another small college in Michigan.

The Warriors have come home — literally.

After over five decades of athletics and men’s basketball teams at the tiny Christian college in Rochester Hills — 55 years precisely — the men’s basketball team played its first-ever true home game on Feb. 18 at the brand new Garth Pleasant Arena.

The facility will house the women’s basketball and volleyball teams as well as the athletics department and special events.

But, nevertheless, it is home. Most definitely home.

PATIENCE OF JOB

Garth Pleasant lived in the world of small-college athletics for decades.

And it came without luxuries, even without a game-ready gym. Sure, the Warriors boast an old decrepit practice gym — something that it still uses — on the back side of the campus, but that was far from game use.

It’s an old gym where there’s hardly any room between the sidelines and the cinder block walls.

“Several times the roof would leak and warp the floor,” recalled Garth Pleasant, the school’s retired Michigan Hall of Fame coach who had some 720 career wins spanning nearly four decades at the school. “There were some times where it was in rough shape.”

Pleasant was the head men’s basketball coach, athletics director, sports information director, athletics trainer — even drove the team bus to road games.

Pleasant’s wife, Pat, even volunteered to wash uniforms and perform other miscellaneous duties performed by campus personal. Rochester College was known as Michigan Christian College until the mid-1990s before making the switch to RC and with a very small enrollment, didn’t have the budget for a multi-person athletics department.

Pat was given the game ball at the home opener for all of her long years of sacrifice and dedication to the program and the school.

“She was always there for us, supporting our program,” said Pleasant.

That’s okay with Pleasant, who handed the coaching and administrative reigns over to his eldest son, Klint, in the spring of 2011. Nothing has changed, except the school now has facilities to match everything else.

“This is my dream job. This was my ministry, how I served God,” said Pleasant. “I still feel that way.”

Pleasant, who was inducted into the BCAM (Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan) back in the fall of 2007, won his first national title in 1989 in the NSCAA (National Small College Athletic Association). He followed that up with titles in 1997, 2004 and 2005, along with runner-up appearances in 1984, 1994, 2000 and 2009.

FINISHED PRODUCT

So with the new arena finally being built and its opening celebrated with a standing-room only crowd of over 900 fans — including dozens of former players and students — it marked the end of an era and the start of new one.

“Back when they were first getting ready for the groundbreaking, I had a guy Tony (Zoros) come up an introduce himself. When I told him who I was, he replied ‘I thought you were dead.’”

Zoros was one of the members of Rewold Construction on site to begin the work, which lasted from May of 2016 until February 2017. The aforementioned Zoros did not know Pleasant, but he has been addressed of the magnitude of the event.

“I never thought this day would come, to be completely honest,” said Pleasant. “I remember the days of driving to places like Indiana and Ohio and not getting back to 2, 3 in the morning. I don’t miss that. What I love to see is players coming back 15 years later and seeing what type of men they have become. What type of fathers and family men they have become and how they carry themselves in society. I did not coach for arenas or for glory. I coached as a ministry.”

Multiple persons stepped up and donated funds to the project over the years, including Bill Fox of nearby Bill Fox Chevrolet and 1971 RC grad Mark Ide. The 23,000 square foot facility features a balcony for special guests, athletics office, training room, concessions stand and store, and bleachers for 836.

The product is there, too. The Warriors men’s basketball team is currently 28-1 and ranked No. 4 in the nation by the National Association of Interscholastic Athletics (NAIA).

“I want everyone to know and everyone who contributed to this arena to know that you have given to the young people this facility…you have invested in all of this,” said Pleasant.

This … this is home.

Rochester College finally has its home for its basketball and volleyball teams.

It’s decades in the making.

But it’s most definitely home.

Home sweet home.

(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor and Publisher of www.northoaklandsports.com and the Stickradt Media Group. He can be reached at dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans, Facebook and multiple other social media platforms.)

Pleasant spends half of his tim

Practicing in a tiny, often decrepit practice gymnasium

never thought I d see this day

met Tony

I thought you were dead,

pushed my fist.

this is my dream job this was my ministry how I served God still feel that way.

so happy today for Rochester College. This is great. I’m honored but really happy for Rochester College.

practice archaic gym

wood glue concrete inches between sidelines and cinderblock walls

george ??

Tony ???

humbled to have my name on a building

people who have had these have told me to get over it.

want this facility to serve the Kingdom of God….

Roger Knapp

John Coe

I salute you for all of that.

Bil (Fox ask me if I miss coaching

20 years coach, drove vans, swept the floor, I was the trainer…wife washed uniforms, fed guys.

driving down avon rd. Klint driving down to Indiana

watching game Michigan Indiana tied 2 minutes to go, so vital

FIRST-RATE PRODUCT

Currently, Rochester College is ranked No. 4 in the national in the National Association of Interscholastic Athletics polls

153 wins 5.5 seasons

one of best in that span

BY DAN STICKRADT

CORRESPONDENT

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

ROCHESTER HILLS —

Category: Basketball, Campus Clips, Colleges / Other, Editor's Column, Featured Articles, NOS reference, Publishers Viewpoint, Rochester College, Sponsors, Sport, Sports Shorts, Top Stories, Uncategorized, Where Are They Now?

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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