Olivet's Morrison: A Lasting Legacy
Former Olivet College coach Gary Morrison not only left a legacy at Olivet but also in the MIAA when he retired in 2010. His career in the MIAA spanned more than five decades.
It all started in 1953 when he enrolled at Kalamazoo College. At Kalamazoo, he was a member of the baseball, basketball and track teams.
Morrison played two years of baseball. He was the team’s leading hitter in 1955, earning All-MIAA honors. Morrison would have played a third season of baseball but he signed a professional contract with the Detroit Tigers. He ran the 100 and 220 yard events in track as a sophomore and junior.
However by far, basketball was Morrison’s best sport. He was a two-time first-team All-MIAA selection. He transferred to Kalamazoo from the University of Michigan and rules made him sit out his first semester of basketball. At the time of his graduation, Morrison was Kalamazoo’s all-time leading scorer with 1,252 points. That total has been surpassed by others but currently ranks 12th in Kalamazoo history.
“I went to Kalamazoo after my high school coach (Rolla Anderson) got the job there,” said Morrison. “He told me if I transferred there I would play right away. And at that time, that was the most important thing to me.
“The most memorable thing to happen to me was when the Detroit Tigers scout came to watch me play basketball. I scored a career-high 35 points in that game versus Purdue-North Central.”
Upon graduation, Morrison was a substitute teacher for one year and an elementary school teacher in the Battle Creek Public Schools for one year. He then got his first coaching experience at Galesburg-Augusta High School, where he served as the boys’ basketball and baseball coach for eight years.
Then in 1967, Morrison received calls from Anderson and Ray Steffen telling him to apply for the coaching job at Olivet College. Anderson and Steffen were good friends with Stu Parcell, Olivet’s Athletic Director, and knew Morrison would be a good fit for Olivet.