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‘Laker family’ becomes a tradition for the Harmon family

By Staff | Jan 25, 2017

Iowa Lakes Community College athletics is truly a Laker family affair for the Harmons.

RaeAhna Harmon is the third person in the family to find herself at Iowa Lakes Community College, and all three students have been highly involved in athletics.

A freshman on the Laker volleyball squad, RaeAhna had an amazing year and her dedication and hard work has paid off. She was recently named Iowa Community College Athletics Conference “Freshman of the Year.”

“As a team, we had an up-and-down year, but as a coach, I could always count on RaeAhna to come through and give her all every match,” said Coach Lea Hartigan. “She led our conference in kills (525), and team in digs (450). Harmon is a player who contributed positively from both the front and back court.”

She shines in the classroom as well.

“This is an outstanding family which I have enjoyed getting to know,” said Troy Larson, Iowa Lakes athletic director and head men’s basketball coach.

Five years ago, the family journey began for the Harmons.

Parents Kyna and Doug Harmon live in Waterville, Minn., where Kyna is lead manager of Kamp Dels campground. Doug works in corrections.

The first Harmon to venture off to Iowa Lakes on their education journey was their son, Tate. Coach Larson had attended a couple of Tate’s high school basketball games.

“He kept in touch with Tate as the season progressed which was a big deal to Tate,” said Doug Harmon.

Knowing it was a big step, Tate and his parents scheduled a campus visit, including time to visit with Larson.

“Coming from a small town, we appreciated the fact that there were smaller class sizes where the students and teachers actually got to know one another,” Doug said. “We like the community of Estherville. Upon our first visit (to the college), we were impressed with the faculty and how personable they were.”

And, they liked that Iowa Lakes had its own Criminal Justice program.

“We were able to meet with Sonja Fagre, who became a key cornerstone for both of our boys. She did a great job,” Doug said, adding that the Iowa Lakes experience has been extremely positive for the Harmon family.

“The teachers are there to teach, and help the students succeed. This is something you will not find in a large university,” he said. “The business office at Iowa Lakes has been a tremendous asset. They know their jobs very well, and can take a lot of stress off the students and their parents with their knowledge.”

Doug also praised the coaches for their work with the younger Harmons, teaching them life lessons and supporting their educational efforts as well as helping them in athletics.

“We have found that our children, starting a junior college, have had a great experience, which made the transition to a four-year school much easier,” Doug said.

Students tend to be excited about the unique programs Iowa Lakes offers and once they visit, are enraptured by the culture of the college family.

“I think they recognized the family atmosphere, and it mirrored their family dynamics,” Larson said.

Landon followed his brother two years later.

Tate and Landon were always bringing other basketball team members to their house for long weekends or just to get away. Those players enjoyed the family time with the Harmons and would joke they had been “Harmonized.”

The Harmon family has impacted many Iowa Lakes students over the years, leaving a lasting impression on the faculty and staff who have come to know three of their four children and truly consider them Laker family.