HOWARD CITY — Lena Thompson has been a hitter throughout her high school career in volleyball.
That all will change when she gets to Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) this fall.
Thompson got a surprise when she was offered a scholarship to the college after the 2015 season.
“I had a great opportunity for academics, which is most important to me,” Thompson said. “It allowed me to continue playing. I didn’t really market myself to play college volleyball so it was kind of a surprise that he (GRCC assistant volleyball coach Dave Rawles) came to one of our (Tri County’s) tournaments. I had played for Dave for club and it was a nice way to continue” playing volleyball.
Thompson said no other college was looking at her for volleyball, but it was mostly her doing.
“I didn’t really put myself out there to market because I was kind of focusing on school from then on out,” she said. “But then that came up and it’s two years of free college, so I might as well.”
Thompson said she isn’t sure what she’s getting into.
“It’s already been pretty unexpected,” she said. “I was pulled to be a hitter but starting this week I will be a setter. So I don’t have any expectations because I don’t know what to expect.”
Rawles has some expectations for Thompson, though.
“Our idea was we like to recruit volleyball players, kids who are athletic,” he said. “Not so much a certain position, but someone who can help us, being an athletic player. So Lena is one of those players, a utility player, where she cam play obviously in the front row as one of the hitters or one of the pin hitters or she can be as athletic as a middle blocker and also be in the back row. Ironically she will come in and setting for us in the beginning of the season because we had an injury. One of our starting setters injured her foot and we had a kid transfer to Aquinas College a year earlier than expected. So a perfect example of why we wanted her is how athletic she is and how dynamic she is as a player.”
Rawles said Thompson had a lot of intangibles that made her desirable to GRCC.
“Her (Thompson’s) work ethic and her determination to become a better volleyball player,” he said. “Her IQ for the game is way above average for a normal high school athlete. She’ll impact our program right off the bat.”
Thompson will be going on a team that was 19-11 last season, including a 15-game winning streak. The Raiders also went to the Michigan Junior College Athletic Association regional tournament in Muskegon.