Q&A with Lightweights Captain Paul Shay

PHILADELPHIA - Senior Paul Shay was announced as the 2010 team captain of the University of Pennsylvania men's lightweight rowing team in early August. PennAthletics.com provides this opportunity to get to know Paul as well as his insights about the team.

Paul is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and was a member of the varsity boat throughout much of last year. Penn posted its best finish at EARC Sprints since 2005, ranked as high as seventh in the nation and posted wins over Delaware, Marietta, M.I.T., and Saint Joseph's. Off the water and in the classroom, Paul has been equally successful. He is a pre-med major with a 4.0 GPA. Earlier this summer, he was named to the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area team.

Penn Athletics: What were your thoughts on the team's performance and effort throughout last year?
Paul Shay: I couldn't be more pleased with our effort last year. The team followed a rigorous training plan set by Coach Baker. Over the winter, we squeezed the last drops out every day. So when the spring racing season began, we were fit and aggressive.

I'm also happy with our results. We met our goals that we set at the beginning of the year. Our top two varsity boats made the Grand Finals at our league championships - Eastern Sprints - which Penn hadn't done since 2005. And while the ultimate goal is always to win Sprints, we made marked improvements from previous years.

PA: When Head Coach Nick Baker took over the team last summer, how was the transition of head coaches?
PS: The transition wasn't seamless, but that is the nature of overhauling a program. Coach Nick Baker has brought a high level of energy andexpectation tothe team, and he knows what it takes to win in our league. But even with positive change, it takes a step back to take two forward. So, the fall season was a bit rough and tumble.After thefall, though,we gained traction andmade huge stridesfrom thewinter on.

PA: What has the lightweight team been doing over the summer? How have they been preparing for the upcoming year?
PS:
After racing ended in the spring, we went our separate ways. Some spent the break in New York for summer internships. Others stayed on campus to do research or take summer classes. But we're all gearing up for this coming year. Everyone is either cross-training, rowing on their own, or rowing for a summer club team. We're making sure to come into the fall fit and ready to work.

PA: What are some of the goals that you and the team are setting for next season?
PS:
The expectation is to improve upon last year's results. That means not only to qualify, but to be competitive in the finals at Sprints. It also means winning shirts and cup races during the spring season. For more success, though, the team has to be fitter and row cleaner than last year. We have to put in the work. Luckily, we're a team of hard workers.

PA: On a personal note, you have maintained a 4.0 GPA through your junior year. How have you been able to balance athletics with academics so well?
PS: It's due to the support of my family and positive pressure from the team. My parents have always been encouraging of my pursuits, and they've been great role models, having both professional and personal success in their lives. On the lightweight team, there's an expectation of success - in athletics, academics and careers. My teammates are training year-round for rowing. Some of our recent grads are in Navy SEAL training, in grad school, or on Wall Street. I'm just following their lead.