Residents familiar with the Campo YMCA know how many lives the people who volunteer time there touch. Norman Harris Jr. was one of those people, and to honor the impact he made on the teams he coached, the YMCA is dedicating a gymnasium in his honor.
Before he passed away in 2018, the Valrico resident coached 60 teams and hundreds of athletes, many through the YMCA. He and his wife, Jessica, joined the Campo Y when it first opened and went on to sponsor kids for summer camp and serve on the board.
“Norm spent many hours of his life in the YMCA gym and so we found it fitting to name it for him so that people would remember his commitment to the young people of this community,” said Jessica.
According to W. Scott Barnhard, chief development officer at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, the organization’s governance board has established DONOR Naming Opportunities for already existing facilities, including all rooms and service areas, that have not been previously named, as well a separate set of DONOR Naming Opportunities for new facilities to be constructed.
“Nearly one year ago, Jessica Harris met with me and the Campo YMCA executive director, Jarrod Williams, to discuss a memorial gift to honor her husband, Norm Harris Jr.,” said Barnhard. “After exploring several options, Jessica and her family decided to provide a leadership gift to the Campo YMCA to name the gymnasium (which had not been previously named) after her husband.”
Jessica and Norm’s children, Jacob, Henry and Sarah, grew up at the Campo YMCA and are proud to see their father honored in this way.
“I cannot express in words how amazing my father was,” said Jacob. “He was the most caring and loving man. When we played sports, he coached everything. He took us to games and coached almost every single one of our teams. I always admired my dad’s selflessness. I always admired his concern for others.”
In addition to the gymnasium, Jessica has set up scholarships in Norm’s name, helping eight local children this year alone.
“The world is minus a super guy, a loving husband, a devoted father and a dedicated coach. As tragic as his death was and continues to be for us, we desire to remember and honor the way he lived—giving of himself for the sake of young people,” she said.
The dedication ceremony for the Coach Norm Harris Jr. Gymnasium will take place on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 3 p.m. To learn more, visit www.tampaymca.org. For more information on the Norman A. Harris Jr. Scholarship, search for the group on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.