WSU rowers push limits on water and in the classroom

Rowers on the water
WSU's rowing team practices at the Snake River canyon.

Washington State University’s rowing team has not only found success on the water but in the classroom as well. In addition to competing at the NCAA national tournament six times in the last seven years, their 2018-2019 academic efforts helped elevate the cumulative average GPA among all WSU’s student athletes to 3.10 — the highest it’s ever been.

“We place importance on having life skills just as much as rowing,” said WSU rowing head coach Jane LaRiviere. “We find that our rowers naturally have good time management, motivation and organization skills.”

Those skills are necessary for athletes with schedules like Paige Danielson’s. Danielson, who graduated in spring 2019 with an electrical engineering degree and a 4.0 GPA, started her days at 6 a.m. in the weight room. Classes started soon afterward.

She was among the 25 student athletes at WSU to earn a 4.0 GPA for spring semester, and led the crowd of Coug rowers dominating the Pac-12 All-Academic women’s rowing team selections last spring.

On top of trying to squeeze in meals and homework, Danielson and her fellow rowers left campus just after 3 p.m. to make sure they get to Snake River canyon for rowing practice. On a good day, they arrive back in Pullman around 6:30 in the evening.

“Rowing has definitely pushed me to figure out time management and how to prioritize,” Danielson said. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to have a passion and really go after it.”

Closeup of Paige Danielson
Paige Danielson efforts in the classroom earned her a spot on the Women’s rowing PAC-12 All-Academic first team.

Danielson’s efforts in the classroom earned her a spot on the Women’s rowing PAC-12 All-Academic first team, along with 10 other WSU rowers.

The 11 WSU rowers made up just more than one third of the Pac-12 All-Academic first team (32 total) and had the most rowers representing any one school in the conference. Another six WSU rowers were named to the conference all-academic second team and six received honorable mentions. The team as a whole achieved their highest cumulative GPA ever at 3.38.

More than half, 55 percent, of WSU’s student athletes overall earned better than a 3.0 GPA for spring semester, and 30 percent were named to the President’s Honor Roll, the second highest number ever.

LaRiviere said that the Athletic Department at WSU has been tremendous in supporting its student-athletes, particularly with helping them find majors and classes that they would enjoy.

“There’s always a functional level of tiredness but I think if you’re enjoying school and enjoying what you’re learning it’s easier to excel at it,” she said.

Danielson said that rowing at WSU played a large part in her personal growth and helped her have a positive college experience.

“I really like what I’ve done at WSU,” she said. “I feel like what I’m doing {in academics and athletics] is actually making a difference.”

A snapshot of WSU Athletics spring semester highlights (infographic by WSU Athletics)

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