Alderink retires after diverse teaching, coaching career

January 11, 2022 (Volume 45, Number 9)

headshot of Gordon Alderink

Gordon Alderink retired in December after 37 years at Grand Valley.

Photo Credit: University Communications

After nearly four decades of service, Gordon Alderink, associate professor of physical therapy, retired in December.

In addition to teaching, Alderink volunteered as the Laker baseball team’s pitching coach for 23 years. He said he loved it so much he didn’t need to be paid, and was grateful his teaching schedule allowed him time to coach. 

“It was unbelievable that I could coach and teach," he said. "I was so lucky because I did two things that I really like to do, and I could do it in the same place.”

In 2003, Alderink was named director of the biomechanics research lab, when the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences building opened. He remained the lab director until stepping down a few months ago. Alderink said his colleagues were a big part of what made his time at Grand Valley so enjoyable.

“We have such a collegial group of faculty,” Alderink said. “I feel like they're my best friends. It’s sort of funny to say that, I mean we’re professional colleagues, but I consider them my best friends.”

Alderink also has respect and admiration for his students.

“The students are unbelievable. It’s hard to get into our program. Our students are amazingly gifted, academically,” Alderink said. “They work so hard. We get feedback from our clinical sites, and our students represent themselves and the university unbelievably well.”

Before teaching at Grand Valley, Alderink worked as a physical therapist for four years at the University of Michigan Hospital and then for two years at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti.

That experience prepared Alderink for teaching orthopedic and sports physical therapy, with a secondary expertise in manual physical therapy. He also taught biomechanics and assisted in education courses. Alderink has been a part of Grand Valley for nearly as long as the physical therapy department itself. 

“When I came here in 1984, the program was only in its second year,” Alderink said. “We were a baccalaureate program at the time, but then that turned to a master's and then a doctorate program. Our first doctorate class was in 2003.”

Alderink also taught general education courses for the Frederik Meijer Honors College and several humanities courses.

“It was a really refreshing time because I met other people on campus in the arts and humanities,” Alderink said. “When you're teaching in the health science programs, you don’t have time to interact with anybody. It was really a breath of fresh air, and I made lots of new friends over here on the Allendale Campus.”

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This article was last edited on January 11, 2022 at 9:11 a.m.

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