Before Caitlyn Jenner’s introduction as a transgender woman, she was, of course, Bruce Jenner, who shot to superstardom by winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Before that historic event, Jenner was a star athlete at Graceland College (now Graceland University) in Lamoni, Iowa, where he was recruited from Connecticut on a football scholarship. The school inducted Jenner into its athletics hall of fame in 1984 and houses the Bruce Jenner Sports Complex, which includes a track, tennis courts, practice fields and a soccer complex.
Some of Jenner’s former coaches at Graceland talked to Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star about Jenner and her new identity. Bruce Hampton, who coached five sports and served as Graceland’s athletic director, was asked if the school should change the name of the Bruce Jenner Sports Complex.
“I would fight the college taking his name off,” Hampton said in Sunday’s edition of The Star. “It isn’t complicated for me at all.”
However, Hampton would disagree with the school if it decided to change the name of the complex to reflect Caitlyn Jenner’s new identity. Hampton pointed out the complex was named in honor of Jenner’s achievements when she was known as Bruce.
“I would think no to that,” Hampton said of a possible change to include Caitlyn Jenner in the name of the complex. “Somebody might be able to talk me out of it, but my first thought is no.”
Graceland is sponsored by the Community of Christ, which until 2001 was known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). As Gregorian writes in the Star profile, Graceland athletic officials said the church “supports the worth of all persons based on a foundation of unconditional love and acceptance.” Gregorian adds in the article, “There’s no apparent movement of any momentum to remove or alter the name of the sports complex.”
That’s the right call, and I agree with Hampton. Caitlyn Jenner made a name for herself during her time as an athlete as Bruce Jenner, and the sports complex at Graceland—and the high school track meet, for that matter—should continue to honor that legacy. The school and others also should continue to support and recognize Caitlyn Jenner for who she is today.
From iClubs: Google Ad Features Gym, Transgender Men’s Group