Alumni Spotlight: Pat Guida '83
Ahead of the Goat Nation Giving Challenge, a week-long fundraiser for WPI Athletics, we caught up with Pat Guida '83. He rowed as a WPI undergrad and remains involved today.
What did rowing for WPI mean to you?
Rowing at WPI changed my life. I rowed for WPI from fall of 1979 through spring of 1983. Although I played other sports in high school, rowing at WPI taught me what real fitness and commitment is. I also learned that, while rowing looks graceful and smooth to the observer on shore, it is difficult to master, is incredibly challenging both physically and mentally, and requires deep trust in your boatmates.
Rowing, and our team, were the most important things to me while I was a student, and I was privileged to compete at high levels of our sport while rowing for WPI. My closest friends in life were forged among my teammates. I learned that I had embraced a sport I could do for life.
WPI did well teaching me foundational engineering skills, but rowing taught me about facing life's challenges.
How did participating in athletics influence and shape the person you were then and who you are today?
Rowing taught me that hard work produces results. I learned to persevere no matter what challenge I faced. I learned that success is much more certain when we show up prepared - for anything. I learned to lead by example. And, my favorite, I learned that when the going gets tough and you want to stop and quit, you can, and you do, keep going.
WPI did well teaching me foundational engineering skills, but rowing taught me about facing life's challenges. Few of us have confidence in our abilities when we graduate and begin our careers, yet I knew I had the tools to solve any problem I might face, and the mindset that hard work leads to success.
What are your fondest memories of coaching WPI Women's Rowing?
Some events, such as standing on the awards stage with the team at our first NCAA Championship appearance in 2018, where WPI finished third in the country, are unforgettable, but my fondest memories are about the people. We are a family. As a coach, it is my privilege to help provide an environment that enables our athletes to achieve their own personal best. Over four years we get to know many of our athletes very well. It is intensely gratifying to watch a student grow and mature, progressing from freshman walk-on to success at the highest level of DIII women's rowing. Remaining close friends to so many of our alumni is a true gift.
Why do you choose to remain involved?
Giving back is important to me. Rowing at WPI, and rowing in general, has made my life better in immeasurable ways.
As an undergrad, our team's rowing experience was made possible due to the generosity of alumni. In 1983, our annual rowing club budget was under $3,000. At the time, a new eight probably cost 3 or 4 times that. Equipment that we rowed in was gifted by alumni, and major trips were paid for through rower fundraising, alumni donations, and out of our own pockets.
Today's varsity rowing programs are tremendously supported by our alumni, many of whom shared similar life-changing experiences during their time rowing here. Our athletes are extremely fortunate (I tell them they are spoiled!), and I believe they understand and appreciate that the current team dynamic and work ethic is built upon the alumni who came before them. I appreciate you all!