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GBHS athletic trainer stumbled onto life passion at BCC
edu_slt bcc ryan zink trainer.jpg

Ryan Zink knows serendipity is a force not to be ignored. He began pursuit of an education to become a teacher at Barton Community College after he graduated from high school in 1998, but his plans were disrupted by a deep realization that his passion was elsewhere. 

Zink was granted a books and tuition scholarship to serve as a student worker in the Athletic Training office, tending to athletes’ injuries and keeping them in good condition to perform at their best in competition. 

“I enjoy being able to see them succeed,” he said. “Maybe they had an injury or something that was holding them back and I can work with them and treat them and get them back out on the field. That’s a pretty good feeling to see somebody out there doing well when they were hurting a couple of weeks beforehand.”

After some coaxing from mentors, Zink changed his major to pursue a career as an athletic trainer.

“With the help of (Barton Athletic Trainer) Ken Henderson, and with some of his encouragement, I could really see where I would have a future as an athletic trainer,” he said. “The more I did it, the more I found out I had a knack for it.”

Zink’s career has come full circle and he is able to focus on both of his passions every day, as a teacher and athletic trainer at Great Bend High School. He traces his blessed career back to time spent at Barton and the people with whom he interacted.

“Ken’s been my mentor for a long time,” Zink said. “I’ve always looked up to him and a lot of the things I do or don’t do are based on him.”

He also advised anyone considering athletic training as a career to give it a go at Barton first, citing exposure to athletes from all over the planet, affordability and quality curriculum.

“Barton is a great way to find out whether you will fully enjoy it or not before you jump in full bore,” he said. “Without committing too much, it’s a nice way to find out before spending thousands at a bigger school and finding out you don’t care for it, but it’s also beneficial to have a start at a smaller school where you can get more hands-on experience early on.”

Sterling College, Barton Community College announce Athletic Training Program transfer agreement

Administrators at Barton Community College and Sterling College signed an agreement in the fall of 2018 to create a seamless transfer of credits from Barton to Sterling toward the completion of an undergraduate and graduate degree. 

All credits must be completed with a C or better at Barton to qualify for the program. For more details, contact Barton Athletic Trainer Ken Henderson at

Henderson said recognition by the Board of Certification of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association will move to a master’s level program in 2022, which makes the partnership with Sterling relevant and timely.

“Three great things about the two plus three partnership with Sterling College are the hands-on experiences during two years working in Barton’s athletic training setting, a shorter overall duration of five years instead of six or more, and the cost savings of starting at a community college,” Henderson said.