By Shaun Chornobroff
One of Rider’s most successful athletic programs got a hefty infusion of cash as the university’s wrestling team received a $500,000 gift from an alumni that will more than double the size of the university’s wrestling training facility.
The donation, made by former All-American wrestler Tim Morrison ‘83, is the largest in program history and was gifted in honor of legendary Head Coach Gary Taylor, who died on Sept. 14. As the training center will now be named after Taylor.
“When people think of Rider Wrestling they think of Gary Taylor,” Rider wrestling Head Coach John Hangey said in an email to The Rider News. “Coach Taylor’s legacy will be fortified through this incredible naming gesture from Tim Morrison and his family.”
Morrison was Rider’s second ever All-American when he earned the accolade in 1983, and a part of building a program that rose from the cellar of college wrestling to one with national respect during Taylor’s 39-year tenure.
Morrison’s three sons, Tim ‘08, Robert ‘11 and Clint ‘15 all went to Rider and wrestled under Taylor.
“Gary Taylor recruited me to wrestle in 1979, and later my three sons,” Morrison said in a press release from the university. “He instilled us with inspiration and motivation. He was a true mentor to me and my family. During the time we spent with Gary, we got to see his devotion to Rider wrestling and, most importantly, his devotion to the individuals that he coached. It is our honor to make our gift in tribute to Gary and all he has done for my family and for Rider.”
In his nearly four-decade stint as head coach, Taylor won 14 conference championships and coached 15 different wrestlers to All-American status, as well as establishing Rider as a team that was consistently ranked within the top-25.
The wrestling room’s expansion will take the space that is currently occupied by the school’s strength and conditioning center. Rider is hoping to accrue an additional $250,000 to “raise the scope” of the project, according to the press release.
“This is a transformational project that will provide a top-tier Division I training facility for all current and future Rider wrestlers. It will help with the future of Rider Wrestling as it will raise our profile in the eyes of top recruits nationally,” Hangey said.
Before Hangey was the leader of the Rider wrestling program, he was not only an assistant under Taylor, but wrestled under him as well, developing a deep bond and admiration for him in the process.
“Coach Taylor was an absolute family man, his world revolved around his wife Nancy and daughter Danica. He also had a sincere love for Coca-Cola, playing and writing music and Harley Davidson [motorcycles],” Hangey said. “He was the absolute best mentor anyone could have ever asked for and I was fortunate to have had the relationship I did with Coach Taylor, he will be sorely missed.”
While Taylor will be sorely missed, thanks to his legacy and the donation from the Morrison family, he will be forever immortalized in the eyes of Rider wrestling.