By Keenan Gray
As a senior in high school, Grant Balvanz began attending Whatcom Community College through the Running Start Program, with a plan of transferring to Western Washington University for a finance major, after receiving his Associates Transfer Degree.
Currently a sophomore at Whatcom, Balvanz is a guard for the men’s basketball team, and is in his final quarter.
He has received interest from Multnomah University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school located in Portland, to play basketball next year.
Balvanz was a basketball player at Mount Baker High School here in Whatcom County receiving All-Northwest Conference and All-State Honors his senior season. He also holds the school record for most three-point shots made in a career at Baker.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Balvanz to talk to him about not only his basketball career, but his life as a student here at Whatcom.
When did you start playing basketball?
When I was younger, I was a fan of the Squalicum Storm basketball team, which had sparked my interest in the sport. It wasn’t until seventh grade when I attended a basketball camp at Squalicum. Since then, I started to play at home and then joined a team in eighth grade at Mount Baker Jr. High School.
Why did you choose Whatcom for school and basketball?
The biggest reason was it was local and made the most sense for financial reasons. I also heard great things about their transfer program as well. For basketball, I had never reached out to other schools to play with them, so Whatcom made the most sense to talk to about playing since I was a Running Start student my senior year of high school.
What is gameday like?
Gameday is pretty important to me due to the fact I have to be mentally prepared for the game itself. I make sure I put in the time to watch film, and take care of myself physically by eating the right foods for my body. I also get a nap in if I can.
What lessons has the game of basketball taught you?
I think the mental and emotional aspects of the game. Coming from high school, being able to go through adversity and learning how to deal with it is big, especially when there is a lot of ups and downs in one game. But I think the best lesson is learning how to adjust to teammates at every level. My teams have changed over time, so to adjust to different people and dynamics and creating a new family has been a good one to learn as well.
What has been your favorite moment playing college basketball?
It was probably my 44-point game in the first game of the year. To come into the season putting up those numbers, it meant a lot to me not only for myself, but to do it in front of my parents and nine of my high school buddies made it more special. Being able to break the Whatcom record for most three’s in a game was a humbling moment for me just realizing it wasn’t just me that did it, but my teammates and coaches have helped me along the way to help me become the player I am today.
How do you balance school and sports?
Thinking about both can be daunting, but if you actually go day-to-day and focus on being a hard worker, it is not nearly as bad as some people might think it is. I think the best thing is to show up to class and put in the work there. Getting help from teachers, teammates, and coaches is nice so you don’t always have to do the work on your own if you do need help.
What has it been like playing for Coach Tom Rawlings?
He has challenged me on the defensive side, and I have grown to become a better defender so I can adjust to the college game. I am not as athletic or quick like some of the guard in this league, so he has helped improve my footwork abilities since I have always been slow-footed. He also puts a ton of work into us because he cares about us and believes we can do really well as basketball players.
What is your pregame meal?
I tend to eat teriyaki chicken. I have always been paranoid about eating too soon before a game, so I try to eat within three hours of our game just so the food can settle in my stomach. Then after that, I try to drink a lot water and hydrate before the game.
If you could go back to anytime in history, where would you go and why?
I would like to relive the stretch of my high school senior year of basketball when we played Lynden Christian, Lynden, and Sehome back-to-back-to-back and won all three of those games. We had some serious momentum going into the playoffs and that was a super fun time. It was a great way to end my high school career, and to beat both Lynden and Lynden Christian in front of the Mount Baker community is something I am most proud of as a high school athlete.