Moving forward

Pat Bicanich

When opportunities present themselves, sometimes you have to use them to the fullest.

That’s what former Grand Valley State University rower Kylen Patterman did by accepting a scholarship
to the University of Louisville after competing on the GVSU rowing team for three years.

Patterman had a decorated career at GVSU, where she spent one year on the novice team before
competing on the varsity squad for her final two years. In 2011, she rowed at 3-seat for the novice 8
in 2011 and won gold medals at the Lubber’s Cup and ACRA.

In 2012, she competed at 5-seat in the women’s varsity 8, where she won gold medals at Lubber’s
Cup, SIRA and ACRA. During her final campaign as a Laker, she won two more gold medals at the
Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta and ACRA. Patterman also earned her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology in
three years.

Sarah Zelenka, assistant rowing coach at Louisville, helped the southern school discover Patterman.
Zelenka was on the GVSU rowing team from 2005 to 2009 and eventually made the U.S. National
Rowing Team, through which she participated in the 2012 London Olympics.

“They started recruiting me in May after we won the Dad Vail Regatta,” Patterman said. “They were
looking for rowers that had eligibility left. They eventually offered me a scholarship, and I was very
happy because I thought my rowing career was done.”

GVSU head coach John Bancheri said he was happy to see Patterman earn a scholarship and get a
chance to continue her rowing career. He said that she worked extremely hard to get where she is

“Kylen came in as a walk-on novice,” Bancheri said. “She worked very hard to go from the novice team
to the varsity in one year. That hard work paid off in competition, and she gained a lot of notice from
other teams.”

University of Louisville head coach Derek Copeland spoke highly about what Bancheri has been able to
accomplish with GVSU’s rowing club. The Laker women’s rowing team has been a powerhouse for
several years and has consistently kept up with top Division I programs.

Copeland said he thinks that the experience Patterman gained at GVSU will help her excel for the

“She is already one of our top twenty rowers,” Copeland said. “Although she is new to the program, I
think she can lead the younger group of rowers because of all of her valuable experience she gained
at Grand Valley.”

Patterman said her experience at GVSU has well prepared her for rowing at Louisville. She was able to
draw a lot of parallels between the two programs.

“I have nothing but great things to say about GVSU,” Patterman said. “The practice schedules are very
similar. We have a few extra workouts at Louisville, but I never felt overwhelmed because I was used to
practicing like that. The main difference is that there are more equipment and resources here.”

Patterman added that her new coaches and teammates have made the transition process much easier.
Adjusting to graduate school is challenging, but she is thankful for all of the support she has around

“The girls here are phenomenal,” Patterman said. “They reached out to me as soon as I got to
Louisville. Both of the teams that I’ve been on have been extremely close, and that is one of my
favorite things about rowing.”

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