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Sophomore Noah Bushong of Penn men's lightweight rowing (Photo courtesy of Noah Bushong).

Sophomore lightweight rower Noah Bushong found a new home on campus when he walked on to the men’s rowing team last year. The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Bushong to ask him 15 questions about his experiences at Penn, what inspired him to join rowing, and what he’s looking forward to this year.

1. Can you introduce yourself? 

I'm Noah, and I'm a sophomore from Indiana. I'm in Wharton, concentrating in finance and management.

2. What's your favorite seat to row and why? 

Probably any seat that's like three through six. I would prefer not to be stern or bow just because my technical rowing skills aren't as good as I think other people’s are. So, just put me in the middle and let me try and pull as hard as I can on the oar.

3. Did you always plan on rowing in college?

I was actually supposed to go play tennis for a Division III school in Indiana. Then, I was admitted off the waitlist in the middle of June to come to Wharton, and so I kind of decided to take that opportunity and run with it. I still wanted to be an athlete, so I cold emailed the rowing coach, and the rest is history.

4. What made you choose rowing when you came here when you had experience in tennis and track?

I did look into the tennis and track team. I've met several people from both teams. They’re all great, but also way better than me at any of those sports. I think I would really thrive in those sports at a Division III level, maybe not so much at a Division I level. For rowing, I knew that they were open to walk-ons. By chance, I ran into several rowers during NSO week. They encouraged me to just reach out to the coach and see what happened, so I did. Besides that, my past experience was reading a book called "The Boys in the Boat." I think that's pretty typical of all rowers; they've probably read that book. It really got me thinking about rowing.

5. What are some of your hobbies outside of school and rowing?

I love going for runs along the Schuylkill [River] trail. On Sundays, we don't have practice, so I'll typically go for a run. As I mentioned before, I've been playing tennis since I was four years old, so that's a big passion of mine that I don't want to stop any time soon. Also, my family went on less traditional vacations when I was younger. Instead of the beach, we would typically go to national parks, so I really enjoy just being outside, going on hikes, and climbing mountains.

6. Then what would you say the most important qualities are for a teammate to have on like any sports team you've been on? 

Coachability, but that's more from a coach's perspective. I think I’d say being passionate for the sport, being passionate for your teammates, and being willing to lay down everything in your ability for the greater good of the team.

7. Do you have a pre-regatta ritual?

Being in the lightweight rowing team, we have to do weigh-ins, and so after every weigh-in, I typically have a peanut butter banana sandwich. 

8. What’s your favorite food for after a regatta, or do you have any post regatta traditions with the team?

Oh, everyone's so worried about making weight beforehand that afterwards, all bets are off. The coach does a pretty good job at supplying pizzas and bagels and stuff and a lot of the team moms will bring in baked goods, cookies, and muffins. So, come Sunday, all bets are off. 

9. What's your favorite spot to study on campus? 

I really like studying in groups, so I'm a big fan of any GSR, specifically Huntsman. If I'm really trying to dial in for a couple hours between class and practice, I'm a big fan of Fisher Fine Arts Library, which is a nice, quiet space to really dial in and get some work done. 

10. Who is your favorite professional athlete? 

I'm going to have to say Roger Federer. He's been my idol since I was a little kid. He does a great job at showing sportsmanship. I think that's one of my favorite things about being a part of sports: teamwork and also sportsmanship. The Penn team specifically does a great job at being competitive but also being humble and showing sportsmanship to other teams. 

11. What inspires you athletically? 

It honestly stems from my parents. They were both college athletes, and so they were really worried about me — because I had been an athlete my whole life — that I would not know what to do with myself when I got to campus. They're very happy that I'm on the rowing team because they know that I have these other brothers to fall back on.

12. What are your favorite rowing achievements or memories?  

I got to race in Eastern Sprints. That was an awesome time because that's the last race of the season for a lot of guys. It was a really cool opportunity to race with a mixture of freshman, sophomore, junior, seniors. Besides that, my favorite memory would be Princeton Chase. I got to race in a boat composed of all freshmen, plus one sophomore. Getting the opportunity to row with all these recruited freshmen was really cool.

13. Do you have a specific Why Penn story? 

The first thing that got me interested in Penn was the business school. I visited campus for the first time for a tennis showcase during my junior summer. There was essentially nobody on campus. So, I was kind of walking around aimlessly, just oohing and aahing at all the buildings. Then two random Penn students noticed me and came up to me and asked if I was a prospective student. They were so welcoming and gave me their email, and then I emailed them and asked a couple questions. That was really why I wanted to come to Penn. There’s also several signs that I saw, like how the LOVE statue that's on campus was made by Robert Indiana. The original piece of art is housed like 15 minutes from my house, so, the fact that there's one here and one back home just makes me still feel connected to my family in that way. Even Philadelphia being the City of Brotherly Love: I have three younger brothers, and probably the hardest part about coming here was leaving those three brothers, but I still feel connected to them being in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

14. What are you looking forward to this year or this season?

I love all the freshmen who we brought in. I think they bring great energy that adds to our awesome culture, so I'm really excited. I would say I’m specifically looking forward to Eastern Sprints come spring because that's a competition where the total value of points from all boats, regardless of whether you're in the top boat or the bottom boat, are combined to see which team gets the trophy. We have a couple races in the fall that I'm super stoked for, including Head of the Charles, which is awesome. Hopefully, I get to compete in that. If not, I know the guys will do great. Everyone's been putting in so much extra work and just really been adding to the value that I think the juniors and seniors have done a great job at emphasizing to the sophomore and freshman. 

15. What advice would you give new students at Penn?

I would say get out of your comfort zone. Honestly, I never thought I would be rowing for Penn. So, I would say get outside your comfort zone and explore new things, whether that's joining a new club, reaching out to a professor to do research, cold-emailing someone to do some pro bono consulting or see if they have an internship opportunity, etc.