In the River’s Rhythm

Posted in From the DAC, Summer 2018

Paige Propp — daughter of former Philadelphia Flyer Brian Propp — keeps Drexel crew on pace and her eye on winning the race as the women team’s seventh seat rower.

portrait of Paige Propp

From her perch in the seventh seat of Drexel women’s crew’s top boat, Paige Propp’s role is to set the tempo.

It’s a position she’s held for all four of her years on the team, and a role coach Paul Savell says she was born to fulfill.

“You can see that performing at a high level is in her blood,” he says. “There’s nobody more competitive than her, but she’s also not afraid to work the hardest.”

Propp, a senior majoring in finance and international business, says she gets much of her natural competitive nature from her father, former National Hockey League star (and longtime Philadelphia Flyer) Brian Propp. But even she admits she can sometimes take it to another level. Whether it’s playing canasta with her family or coed floor hockey with her friends, it doesn’t matter. She has to be the best.

“I feel competitive when it comes to grades or even comparing GPAs with other members of the team,” she says. “It comes out in everything I do.”

Luckily, Propp’s propensity to compete doesn’t irk her teammates.

“It’s not like people are rolling their eyes,” Savell says. “She has fun with it. But she knows she’s competitive and everybody on the team knows it.”

Without question, Propp — and her desire to always keep score — has been an asset to the Dragons since she pulled her first oar through the water four years ago. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburb of Cinnaminson, New Jersey, she played field hockey, soccer and, of course, ice hockey, before wandering into a boathouse during her freshman year of high school.

“I had a friend with older siblings on the crew team,” she recalls. “It sounded kind of interesting because I like to be on the water. I thought, ‘I’ll try this out and see if I’m any good at it.’”

She was. Continuing her career in the sport in college became a priority for Propp, who chose Drexel not only for its crew team but for its co-op as well. Her measurements on an ergometer, a rowing machine, impressed Savell, but he wasn’t blown away by Propp until she began practicing with the team.

“When she got here, she really was so much more than what we expected,” he says. “She’s a multifaceted athlete. Leadership-wise, she’s not afraid to speak up. And what comes out of her mouth is really insightful.”

When her alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m., Propp helps encourage her roommates, rowers all, to get moving. They’re usually at the boathouse on the Schuylkill River by 6 a.m. for a two-hour session on the water that leaves her soaked by either the rain, river or sweat (and sometimes all three).

“Rowing is really tough, but you learn to love your team so much because they support you,” she says.
Throughout her career, Propp has pulled in a boatload of individual awards. Last season she was named the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Women’s Rowing Co-Performer of the Year, and was a member of the Colonial Athletic Association All-Academic team for the second straight year. Still, personal accolades pale in comparison to the feeling she got in 2017 when the women’s boat she sat in won the gold medal at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta for the first time in program history.

“That was something we’d been working toward from the day that I set foot on the team,” she says. “We finally achieved it, and it was one of the greatest days of my life.”

Another of the seventh seat rower’s responsibilities is making sure everyone in the boat “is on the same page,” Savell says.

Yet another reason why Paige Propp is the perfect person for the job.