Everyday Champion - Will Gustafson
Senior rower and Corvallis native Will Gustafson has proved is dedication to hard work in ways that most young adults haven’t. Gustafson not only rows on the Oregon State men’s crew team, but he has served in Iraq for the United States National Guard. He returned to complete his education and compete with his team for his senior season. Will took a moment to talk about rowing, his service to the nation and what he plans to do when he graduates for this week’s Everyday Champion profile.
What got you interested in rowing?
“What got me involved with rowing was talking to my dad. He had communicated with some of the rowing coaches and they had expressed interest in me and teaching me how to row.”
What is the best part about the sport?
“I like the team community. I like going out to practice with the guy’s every day.”
What position are you in the boat?
“I’m generally the three seat. That is generally a power position, so guys who are stronger are there.”
Are you a close team?
“Yes. We are a very tight crew. It is sort of frustrating because you always have to be on your game otherwise everyone else on the boat is going to be affected.”
If someone was going to come watch you, what would you tell them?
“Well if they come watch us they are going to need binoculars because the boats are very far away and you can only see us for a little bit.”
What would you tell an incoming freshman about the benefits of going out for rowing?
“You get to be a varsity athlete at Oregon State. You get coaches and trainers and teammates, which is nice. It is a different environment than just going to college. You’re actually doing something for the university. They treat you very well and at the end you get to be a community, you get to be part of the rowing community.”
So you get to be a part of Beaver Nation then?
“Yes. We actually have a boat at the boathouse named Beaver Nation’.
You are majoring in exercise and sport science. What do you plan to do when you are done?
“I’m looking at being a physical therapist or maybe a nurse, I haven’t really decided. It is kind of an open road right now.”
You are also part of the National Guard. Tell me how you got involved with that.
“I joined the National Guard about five years ago to pay for college. It has taken me to different places than I expected.”
Would you recommend it to someone else?
“I would say you have to think about it, but I don’t regret anything.”
Your father was in the Navy. Did that play any part for you joining the National Guard?
“It helped a little bit. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about me joining, and he was even less enthusiastic about me going to Iraq. But my family has been supportive overall.”
Do you have a rank in the National Guard?
“I call in the fire. I call the artillery fire; I call aircraft missiles, so I coordinate their fire. So I have heavy radio communication with others.”
That sounds like a lot of responsibility. Do you ever have any apprehension about what you are doing?
“Well you kind of just have to trust your training and do what you have been taught.”
How much training did you do before you left for Iraq?
“I was in the military for about a year and a half before I left. They trained us before we left. And then when you are in another country you are always continuing your training and practicing. The majority of my training was before I left.”
You are not sure if you are going back to Iraq, but if you did, what would be your feeling or focus going?
“There is a part of me that wants to go back, but there is a part of me that doesn’t want to go oversees for a year, or a year and a half. It would be dangerous either way. It is hard for me to compare being here to being over there. I actually got hit by a car when I got back from Iraq. I was really lucky when I was over there though, to not have been hurt.”
What did you learn about yourself in the time you were gone?
“Well I came back and realized that college was really easy. I could do what I want and just show up to class and hang out, there wasn’t any pressure. So it was kind of boring initially, because there wasn’t all this exciting stuff happening around me. And it was sort of a shame, because I kind of liked that excitement. But, it basically made my civilian life a lot easier because there aren’t the same pressures.”