After serving as Grand Rapids Community College’s Interim Athletic Director since last August, William “Billy” Firn is now the official Athletic Director of GRCC.
The announcement was made on Saturday, July 8, by GRCC Athletics page via Twitter.
“It was a dream come true that I was able to get to this position as the official Athletic Director,” Firn said. “During all of my experiences with doing internships and all of the unpaid things that I’ve done, that moment attested to the saying that hard work pays off.”
Tina Hoxie, GRCC’s Dean of Student Affairs put in the recommendation for Billy to land the permanent role. She felt that he was the right guy for the job.
“Billy has done a very good job,” Hoxie said. “He has built good relationships with the staff, coaches, and the players over the sports department and that played a key role. Billy has all of the qualifications needed to officially be the leader of our sports program and his enthusiasm is what we loved.”
Now that Firn is officially the A.D., his goals aren’t really about on-the-court success, but success in the classroom.
“I want us to be more student focused on our athletes,” Firn said. “We want to help them be successful, and one of the things we want to do is provide more academic support for them. More academic support will help them reach their main goals, which is graduating or transferring to other schools.”
Firn elaborated on what his vision is for the current and incoming student athletes.
“My bigger vision is to help each one of our student-athletes grow to be prepared to go to the next college or university,” Firn said. “Also, I want them to have some confidence in themselves athletically, academically and personally.”
Since his tenure as Interim A.D., the amount of support Firn has received from his colleagues in the Athletic Department, the coaches and the players have been through the roof.
“Hands down, the support has been great,” Firn said. “During this whole process they have said very nice things about me and my tenure here, and they were highly supportive of me getting the job. We are all excited that we can continue to build on what we started last year, and it feels good that they recognize that I care about them and their players. They know that I’m here to serve them as their Athletic Director.”
GRCC Women’s Basketball head coach supports the hiring of Billy Firn.
“First and foremost I am extremely excited for Billy,” Dave Glazier said. “He works hard and has an unwavering enthusiasm to build the department across all sports. His drive to help make the overall experience for our student athletes, from academics to the in-game atmosphere better is awesome.”
Firn’s commitment to GRCC Athletics has intensified since the announcement of his permanent role and putting his vision for the department into action has instantly become more realistic.
“Having the position permanently has definitely given me more confidence to go forward with the visions I have for our department,” Firn said. “I’m more confident now to build a program, sustain a program, and build more continuity with the coaches and our staff.”
The GRCC Athletics Department has had recent success on multiple fronts. Men’s Basketball guard, Jeffrey Drake-Todd, was named the College’s first ever All-American and the team finished sixth in the National NJCAA DII Tournament. Forty-one GRCC student-athletes were named on the postseason All-Academic Awards lists. In baseball, six Raider athletes also earned postseason awards, GRCC’s Golf team won the MCCAA State Title, and GRCC’s Volleyball player, Lauren Wieber, was named DII NJCAA All-American with the team finishing in 10th place at nationals last season.
Despite this success, what’s profound to Firn is how not many people know of the success that GRCC has accumulated athletically. Firn wants that to change.
“We need to do a lot of self-promoting,” he said. “We need our student athletes to promote themselves and their teams within the community, out in their classroom and to their professors. We also want to be more visible on campus. I’m looking at different ways for us to promote our athletics to a broader audience.”
One of the ways Firn hopes to create a larger audience at sporting events will start with a student organization he plans to start up. Firn wants to create a student section for all home games at the Ford Fieldhouse. More details on that project will be released as more information comes out.
Now that all of the celebrating and praise for Firn’s promotion is winding down, he is looking forward to the process of making GRCC Athletics become one of the best NJCAA programs in the state and possibly, the country.
“I’m motivated to help GRCC become the best it can be,” Firn said. “It can be the best community college in the state easily and we can be one of the best in the country, and I’m going to work hard so we can one day get to that point.”