The performance lab at DeVos Fieldhouse on the campus of Hope College has been dedicated in honor of longtime Hope educator and coach Dr. George Kraft.
Dr. Kraft and his wife, Roberta, were honored Thursday, Nov. 14, at a luncheon.
Dr. Kraft was a member of the Hope College faculty from 1967 until his
retirement as Professor of Kinesiology in 2005. He was chair of the
Department of Kinesiology from 1988 to 2003, during which time the
program restructured to reflect its three-fold emphasis on athletic
training, exercise science and physical education. He was also the
college's wrestling coach from 1967 to 1978, and was an assistant
football coach from 1967 to 1997.
"George Kraft was a real agent of change for the Department of
Kinesiology over the course of his career. The department underwent
significant expansion and professionalization of its academic program
under his leadership," said Provost Dr. Richard Ray.
"He was the department chair under whom the DeVos Fieldhouse came to
be a living reality. The thousands of students who studied in the
department during George's career owe him a significant debt of
gratitude for the ways he helped them develop as whole, integrated
persons - mind, body, and spirit."
Current department chair and longtime colleague, Dr. Mark Northuis,
also credited Kraft for laying the foundation for the rapid expansion of the college's
exercise science /pre-health care major."
"Laboratory and research experiences are essential to the education of
our exercise science students, thus it is fitting to honor George’s
life of leadership and service to Hope College and the Kinesiology
Department in this way," said Dr. Northuis.
President Emeritus Dr. James Bultman noted that Kraft personified the professor-coach model. "As an assistant football coach and wrestling coach, George was one of the longest serving coaches in the history of the college. Simultaneously, he taught, served in administrative capacities and authored books and professional journals. It is entirely appropriate that he is being recognized by having an academic lab in a primarily athletic facility named in his honor."
Dr. Kraft was born the son of missionary parents in China. He did his
undergraduate work at Wheaton College, majoring in history. After
spending two years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, he pursued
graduate work at the University of Indiana where he learned of Hope
and the college's plans to establish a physical education major and
the need to enlarge the faculty accordingly.
He played a leadership role in developing the college's Dow Center,
which opened in 1978, and was the building's program director for many
years. He similarly was involved in the planning of the DeVos
Dr. Kraft's involvement in the life of the college was complemented by
an active interest in music. He and Roberta, who was a member of
Hope's music faculty, developed programs of sacred and secular music
that they presented throughout Michigan.
The Krafts continue to live in Holland in retirement.