Inside the Shell with Fay Gilbert

Inside the Shell with Fay Gilbert

April 19, 2012


CORAL GABLES, Fla.—Meet Fay Gilbert. She was raised on sports, but never found one to her liking. So how did this young woman from Chicago find herself on the rowing team at the U, one of the most renowned athletic programs of all time? Read on to find out…

I have an older brother who’s 21 and goes to NYU and studies film. My dad is a documentary filmmaker, he directed Hoop Dreams. He’s really into sports, which is probably why we’re so into sports in my family. My brother was always the athletic one, but now I get to rub it in that I’m the one with a DI sports scholarship.

Growing up I always played sports, but I HATED them. I used to play soccer and I would just stand there and trip people.

I started rowing in high school. We go to the same vacation spot in Mexico every year, and another family comes with us. The eldest daughter brought the rowing assistant coach at my high school when we went my freshman year, and she asked me if I wanted to join. I wasn’t good enough to play any sports in high school, nor did I want to, but my mom FORCED me to go. I really liked it. Everyone on the team talked to me in Spanish: They thought I was Mexican because I met the assistant coach in Mexico.

When I was being recruited, I had never heard of the U. Then I got an e-mail from the coaches and took a trip down. It was love at first sight. I’m really happy to be here now. Now, when I think of the U I think of so many things. It’s sports, it’s school, and it’s awesome.

I look up to my dad in sports because his freshman year he ran cross country in Wisconsin and got to the NCAAs. Whenever I have a problem in the boat he understands what it’s like. Also, he’s always doing something and able to handle it, no problem. Right now he’s got five projects going on and he’s cool as a cucumber. I can barely handle school and rowing without freaking out.

I miss the tall buildings in Chicago. I want my skyscrapers back. Also, having no seasons is kind of weird. I miss the cold a little, but when I go back to Chicago after 10 minutes I’m done and ready to come back to Miami. Most cities have a lot of cultures, so I’m used to the diversity here.

My team is progressive. We’re taking leaps and bounds to get better. It’s been rough knowing that we have to build. It’s a lot on our shoulders, but everyone on the team can handle it.

I love being on a team full of young’uns. Besides the fact that I’m used to having a senior around helping me figure everything else, it’s a lot of fun. There’s no seniority drama.

Coach Carter has so many sayings, and half of them I don’t even understand because they’re Canadian sayings so I just nod and laugh. But along with Coach Carter I have Coach Razz and Coach G, both whom I love. I want to give them a shout-out!

I’ve been raised with basketball. I’m a huge Chicago Bulls fan. I love Michael Jordan. His daughter went to my high school, and I was friends with her. I was the only person who didn’t know she was his daughter. Everybody else knew but me. It was really funny.

If I could have any job in the world I would want to work on an elephant sanctuary. I think that would be so much fun. Elephants are cool; they’re huge but so gentle.

The color that best describes me is purple. I’m calm, which is the blue undertone. But I also have the red undertones, because I’m energetic. That’s deep.

If I had a time machine I would go the 1890s (not counting any wars going on) because I really like the big dresses they wore. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, and it took place back then. Otherwise I would go to the 1920s. I think I would make an awesome flapper.

Most people don’t know that I’m a huge reader. After a hard practice I always crack open a book. I try to escape through my reading. I really like British literature, like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and all the old classics.

Living in Miami is hot. It is VERY hot.