Everyday Champion: Pat Kohan

April 12, 2010

Prior to his arrival at Oregon State, Pat Kohan spent his time patrolling the hot corner as a baseball student-athlete at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill. Following his sophomore season, Kohan transferred to Oregon State in order to be closer to his home of Juneau, Alaska, and focus on his studies as a business major with a focus on marketing.


Once at OSU, Kohan found a great opportunity to combine his passion for athletics and the outdoors through the men’s rowing program. Kohan started out as a novice rower with Steve Todd’s crew and has worked his way up to the junior varsity 8+ boat in under two years. Life at OSU has been much more than rowing, however, as he’s reached out to volleyball program, providing key marketing support to the Willamette Volleyball Classic, a popular tournament run by head coach Terry Liskevych.


As this week’s everyday champion, Kohan took some time to discuss his life as an Oregon State student-athlete.


Why did you choose to attend Oregon State?

I came to Oregon State because it’s actually a lot like Alaska in that people love the outdoors. I played in a baseball tournament at Goss Stadium in high school while I was playing travel ball. I really liked the area and I thought it was a good fit for me.


What surprised you about Oregon State once you arrived?

I was actually surprised at how great the campus was. I never really took a look at the campus itself before coming here. I saw the baseball stadium and saw the town a little bit, but I hadn’t seen the campus. The campus has been everything that I wanted in a school. It’s pretty small and close to everything and you can get anywhere you want in five minutes. It turned out to be exactly what I wanted.


Talk a little bit about how you got started in the rowing program?

I got involved with the rowing team because my sister was a rower at the University of Washington, and when I transferred here I wasn’t planning on doing any sports or anything, but I had four weeks to do a PAC class so I took rowing. It became something to where I could relate to my sister while keeping me involved with outdoor activities. From there, it just progressed. I made some friends and it eventually became my college lifestyle.


You played baseball at Lincoln Trail College before transferring to Oregon State, is there anything that you learned from baseball that you can use in rowing?

Both sports require you to be extremely focused. Baseball is a long sport. When you are at bat you are focused on nothing else. That’s very similar to when you are starting a race. When you start a race you are jacked up, your blood is flowing and you cannot think about anything else. If you do, you’ll mess up the rhythm and disappoint seven other guys. It’s pretty intense, and having played baseball, having that intense atmosphere where all the attention is on you, has prepared me for rowing.


What’s it like rowing for head coach Steve Todd?

It’s been a great time. He does a good job of getting everyone involved, because we have a lot of people who have never rowed before. He teaches you how to row and he makes you feel like a part of the family. We had about 30 freshmen that took the class, and about 16 or 18 that stayed on and tried to do it for the whole year. He makes you part of the family right then. If you make the decision to row, he’s going to be there every step of the way. He wants to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.


Why did you choose to become a marketing major?

I like to pass on an inspiration to people. I like to get people excited about things, and I like to learn why people do the things they do. I want to inspire people to act for a living. I love putting smiles on people’s faces or satisfying their needs and wants. That really fits with marketing and I really enjoy it.


You’ve been involved in the marketing for the Willamette Volleyball Classic, how did that opportunity arise?

When I first arrived here, I was just here to go to school, and I went to the athletic office to volunteer with anything they needed. Mary Anne Vydra (an associate athletic director with the department) sent me over to Terry Liskevych (head colleyball coach) and he took me under his wing last year. He has a volleyball tournament that he puts on for 12 to 18 year olds and about 180 teams come in. I just sat back and watched a lot last year and helped where I could. But this year, I’ve been meeting with tournament directors every week and I’ve been busy helping create a marketing concept. I’m the sales management for all the sales at the tournament and I’m actually writing my thesis about the sales of this tournament. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into this, along with rowing and school.


What are some of your plans after you graduate?

I have a few options. I can go back home to Juneau and try to make a life there or just go there and take a year off. Which would be good. Rowing has been intense, along with school and other extracurricular activities that we do. It would be fun to scale back and do the things I love to do, like hang out and be outside. Juneau is the best place ever when it’s nice outside. Or, I can pursue a life and career down here in the lower 48, as we call it. I was talking with my mom about this last night, and she suggested that I try and make a two year plan or a five year plan instead of a life plan. That’s helped me see the things I want to do.


How do you balance life as a student athlete?

Obviously, it’s just a lot about managing your time. You don’t really think about it in that way while it’s happening. Once you start doing the things you want to do, you start blocking out time to do those things. Slowly, you cancel out anything that takes away from the time you want to spend on school or sports or whatever it is. I know the boundaries and it comes to you after you find what you want to accomplish.


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