Alex Klein
Bryant University basketball star Alex Klein '17 traded sneakers for a helmet to train for the ’26 Olympics in bobsled for Team Canada.
From hoops to sleighs: Basketball star shifts gears to prepare for '26 Olympics
May 09, 2024, by Annie Sherman
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Life has come fast since Alex Klein ’17 graduated with her business degree. About 90 miles per hour, to be precise. At this speed, she races down the icy track as the brake woman for the Canadian women’s bobsleigh, as it’s called in Canada, team. Klein sits in the back of a torpedo-shaped sleigh, legs outstretched with her head and torso bent over her knees to improve aerodynamics. As the sled rounds the final corner, the pilot yells, “brake!” and Klein bolts upright, pulling a lever to stop the hurtling sleigh.

It’s an adrenalin-filled 50-second ride that requires years of training, but it’s not the path Klein envisioned as an all-conference basketball star and Female Athlete of the Year at Bryant. She never even thought she’d be a pro athlete. Nonetheless, she’s riding this momentum to the 2026 Olympics in Italy while relying on the foundations she learned as a student-athlete.

She chronicled this personal progression and professional pivot during a presentation on April 2 sponsored by the Department of Communication and Language Studies. Klein was the first speaker for its new GEN ED Intercultural Communication series. In front of about 50 students and professors, she discussed the culture shifts she experienced while living and training internationally, compared the athleticism and stereotypes for her two sports, and even got down on the floor to demonstrate her position in the sleigh, while wearing an old helmet that was damaged during a training crash. 

“Persevere. Stay the path. Trust it,” she said. “I'm a big believer in putting out energy in the world. I believe that things magnetize to you. But I didn't seriously realize I could be a pro athlete. I was just like, ‘I'm going to keep playing and go to different countries and travel.’”

Before her sleigh days, Klein played professional basketball in Luxembourg for a season after graduation. However, the high pressure of training and playing at peak performance impacted her health. She was diagnosed with stress-induced ulcerative colitis, and quickly learned she needed to take better care of her nutrition and mental health. She left Europe and pro basketball and worked a “normal job” in marketing for a couple of years near her hometown in Ontario, Canada. But meeting the trainer of the bobsleigh team catapulted her into professional sport once again.

Now an online health and macronutrient coach for women in the off-season, Klein plans to create a course to help athletes develop their own businesses. She also works with the Crohn’s Colitis Canada Foundation to educate others about the chronic disease because she wishes she had more information during her own health journey. 

She said she deals with imposter syndrome as an unlikely 6’1” bobsleigh athlete with no prior training, and wonders what would have happened if she’d continued playing professional basketball. But she doesn’t let those doubts slow her progress. She has reinvented herself multiple times over, from business student to basketball star to entrepreneur to bobsledder and future Olympian. She will soon return to full-time training in Canada to prep for the Olympic games while maintaining a positive drive toward her three tenets: resilience, authenticity, and passion. 

“Every decision I make, I make sure it's aligned with those values. So, if I'm going to do something, I want to be all in,” she told the crowd at Michael E. ’67 and Karen L. Fisher Student Center. “But I need to be patient, feel it out, get used to the new space, and learn. It’s an adjustment. Give yourself grace.”

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