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Ready to Play

Does going to a community college mean you have to give up on team sports? Not a chance! According to Alex Ehnis, a 2024 graduate who played forward for the Grand Rapid Community College Raiders basketball team, the opposite is actually true.

“I played basketball at a small high school, and let’s just say I wasn’t one of the best players when I got to GRCC,” Ehnis said. “To be completely honest, I was probably one of the worst. So I sat the bench much of my first year and red-shirted my second year. But by the third year…I was a different player.” The numbers tell the story: he averaged 18 minutes per game and shot over 50% from the field in his last season, compared to five minutes per game and 8% shooting his first year.

“People don’t think there’s going to be much competition at a community college,” Ehnis said. “But there are a lot of good people in the league. GRCC has a great volleyball team that almost always goes to nationals. The baseball team was the undefeated conference champ this year and they’re often ranked. The golf team is excellent. If you enjoy sports, GRCC can be a great fit.”

Ehnis loves basketball, but he knows it’s not going to be his career. That’s why he is also proud of the Exercise Science Associate Degree he earned during his time at GRCC. 

“I had never thought about a community college before I learned about GRCC,” Ehnis said. “It made a lot of sense to me. The smaller class size was more personal and closer to what I had experienced in high school. It was about half the cost of attending a four-year program. And here, I could still work on my basketball to become better. Now all of my credits will transfer to a four-year program, and I hope to play basketball, too.” 

Ehnis says he worked as hard in class as he did on the court. 

“It was harder than a lot of people might think. GRCC challenges you, and I liked the challenge. And my professors knew their stuff. For example, my Exercise Science professor was an athlete and former body builder. My Chemistry professor worked at Kennedy Space Center. These people have credible experience in their fields.”

So what does Ehnis plan to do now that he has graduated? 

“I would love to become a physical therapist specializing in sports injuries and rehab. In a perfect world, I would get to do that in West Michigan.” He knows it is tough to get into physical therapy school, so he also has the backup plan of becoming an athletic trainer. But regardless of how the next chapter unfolds, Ehnis doesn’t regret his decision to attend GRCC. “I recommend GRCC to everyone because you definitely get your money’s worth at this school.”

Academic programs in the Health and Exercise Sciences pathway can lead to professions like occupational therapy assistant, nurse, dental hygienist, dental assistant and radiologic technologist. Degrees in this pathway prepare students to transfer into bachelor's degree programs related to exercise science and health professions such as physician assistant, occupational therapist and physical therapist. GRCC offers a general transfer option, as well as two-year programs tailored to Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. 

To explore GRCC’s Health and Exercise Sciences Academic Pathways, please visit our website

This story was reported by Julie Hordyk.