Feature Story

Harris to be awarded with Bob Williams Helping Hand award from ISSA


Brent Harris has been a fixture in the Wabash College and Crawfordsville communities for nearly 25 years. Currently in his 24th year as the Athletics and Campus Wellness Communications Director for the Little Giants, Harris is considered by some the life-blood of Wabash College Athletics. Now Harris can add another accolade to his stellar career as it was announced by the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (ISSA) that Harris will be this year’s recipient of the Bob Williams Helping Hand award that is apart of the annual ISSA Hall of Fame and awards banquet.

The banquet this year takes place on April 16th at Valle Vista Country Club in Greenwood.

Some of the individuals that will be inducted into the Hall of Fame include Mark Ambrogi/IndyStar, Harold Welter/WKVI Knox, and Jim Peters/LaPorte Herald Dispatch. Other award winners along with Harris include Mike Wells of ESPN.com and Don Fischer, voice of the Indiana Hoosiers.

“Greg Rakestraw gave me a call in September and I just thought it was to chat about the Monon Bell game and get details for that,” Harris said of when he found out about the award. “I was just blown away when he told me that I would be receiving it and that I was even considered for it. To see all of the names of the inductees and the award winners that will be there... I’ve known and had the pleasure of working with these guys for many years and to be in the same room with all of those guys will be extremely humbling.”

Rakestraw who handles announcing all of the inductees and award winners has had the pleasure to work with Harris on countless occasions over the years as the ISC Sports Network has carried the Monon Bell Game. The two have developed quite the friendship over the years and as Rakestraw states, there aren’t many that can do the work as well as Harris.

“When I think of Wabash College athletics, Brent Harris is one of the first people that comes to mind,” Rakestraw said.  “If sports are the front door of a college campus, then Brent is like the greeter. He’s always there to help, and is amazingly knowledgeable about all eras of Little Giant athletics. Brent is certainly on par with his colleagues at a Division I level, but has chosen to stay at a place in Wabash where he’s happy, and I have all the respect in the world for that. The folks on campus and in Crawfordsville are very lucky to have him as part of the community, and I’m happy to call him a friend.”

Along with his work for Wabash, Harris has spent 16 years as the with the Indianapolis Colts. Among getting to be on the stats crew for the 2012 Super Bowl, Harris has also had the opportunities to countless Men’s and Women’s Final Fours four the NCAA Tournament.

Jim Amidon was the man to hire Harris in 1999. From the moment that the position came open, Amidon knew that Harris was the right person for the job.

“When I was the sports information director, Brent was literally my go-to guy for anything,” Amidon said. “He was an amazingly reliable volunteer who would jump into any role I needed – public address, stats, media, or solving a problem with sound. When we had an opening for an SID, he was the first person I called because he had so much experience with broadcasting, journalism, event management, and media relations. Once he started, I knew I’d never have to worry about the position again – and I haven’t over the last 24 years.”

Harris oversees the student workers who help out on the Wabash broadcasts for everything from football, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, you name it. While Harris is the head of the operation, he took the time to thank all the people that don’t get the credit they probably should.

“This award in my opinion is a big testament and compliment to the multitude of everyone like the student workers, the coaches, and the administration,” Harris said. “I got a chance to watch a true professional in this field in Jim Amidon when he was the SID here. I got the chance to meet Jim Vruggink at Purdue and saw how he ran things there. Craig Kelly with Colts helped me get here too with the ship he ran in Indianapolis. I see this as a tribute to all of those individuals who showed me how to do this professionally.”

With a small-college atmosphere like the one that Wabash possesses, Harris often makes it feel like you’re at a Division I institution. From all of the stats that he prepares, to game notes, and allowing the access to the players and coaches, that’s something that doesn’t get taken for granted. Wabash and Harris are just like the old saying “two peas in a pod”.

“Brent has shaped his entire life around Wabash College and, specifically, our student-athletes,” Amidon added. “So when I think about Brent, I think about his dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and selflessness. Those are the same words we might use to describe a championship-level athlete or team. And in a nutshell, that’s Brent – a championship-level sports information professional who is passionate about Wabash and deeply cares for and admires our students.”

Wabash Athletic Director Matt Tanney like many previously said knows that Harris’s work goes above what a normal SID does and makes sure the student’s get an A+ experience.

“Brent is an integral contributor to the Wabash Athletics program. His work often goes above and beyond the traditional statistics and game stories. He regularly connects students with interests in statistics, analytics, and sports information into an environment that enables opportunities for learning and growth. We’re happy for his success and recognition by the ISSA.”

Personally for me, the access that we have here at the Journal Review to Wabash Athletics, wouldn’t be possible without the work of people like Harris. He’s always willing to provide any help that we need, and often fairly quickly as well. Wabash is the perfect place for a man like Brent and Brent is the perfect person for a place like Wabash.

Congrats Brent on this award!

If you’d like to purchase a ticket to the banquet for the April 16th induction and awards ceremony, they are $35 and you can send a check to Fred Inniger, ISSA Treasurer, 3011 Noble Hawk Drive, Kendallville, IN 46755.