Student-Athlete Spotlight

Gabe Blanchard, ENG'20 - Heavyweight Rowing

1. Name: Gabe Blanchard

2. Class Year: 2020

3. Sport: Heavyweight Rowing

4. Position: Oarsman

5. Why did you choose Penn?
When I was looking at colleges in high school, I wanted to find a place where I could balance a competitive rowing career with a fulfilling education. I was drawn to the engineering school’s offerings as well its proximity to industry and the new direction the rowing team was headed in under a new coaching staff. There was an opportunity to be a part of a team that would put Penn rowing back on top, and I wanted a front row seat.

6. What does the experience of being a Penn Rowing student-athlete mean to you?
Being a student-athlete at Penn means balancing a rigorous education with a significant time commitment to your team. Having teammates that you’re accountable to gives you a different college experience that I think is much more rewarding. You need to be on top of your classes and athletics all the time as well as supporting the guys around you, which builds a family within the team unlike any other on campus.

7. What would you say to the donors who invest in your experience as a Rowing student-athlete? 
The donations we get help us buy the equipment that brings us to another level. Donors to Penn Rowing, I think more than any other sport, can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the training that we do on the river. It’s no secret that the work done in small boats or on the RP3s positively affects the 8, and the donations we received to help us build our fleet of 4s and RP3s has raised our game technically and mentally, as well as creating an environment that attracts athletes looking to compete at their highest level.

8. What has been your favorite moment/memory with Penn Rowing?
Last summer, training in California before the IRAs, the team was the fastest and strongest it had been all season, and being able to devote all our time to training was fantastic. In between practices we could relax as a team and spend time just hanging out, which is something that rarely happens during the year because of our busy schedules. I think the week we spent together brought the team a lot closer together and we built a much stronger bond than any other team I’d been on in the past.

9. What does life after Penn look like?
Hopefully moving into industry as a mechanical engineer. I’m not sure where I’ll live, or exactly what I’ll be doing, but I know that rowing will remain a part of my life in some form, and that the connections I’ve made on Penn Rowing will be extremely valuable no matter where life takes me.

10. What are some lessons that you have learned through athletics at Penn that will stay with you after graduation?
Don’t be afraid to dig deeper than you’ve ever gone, you’re so much more capable than you think. If you’re having a tough time, imagine what the other guy is feeling. Don’t do it for yourself, do it for those around you. Trust the process.