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Gonzaga rower Perrine Sarraute follows passion from France to US
(Courtesy: Perrine Sarraute)

Gonzaga rower Perrine Sarraute follows passion from France to US

SPOKANE, Wash. (BVM) — Early morning practices, late nights studying, and races around the world. That is the life that Gonzaga women’s senior Perrine Sarraute has had since she started rowing in 2015.

Perrine is originally from Bordeaux, France where she lives with her mother, father, brother, and sister. Growing up, Perrine was involved in numerous sports including gymnastics, swimming, pole vault, and volleyball. Unfortunately, she never found a true passion for any of those. After her final seasons of volleyball and pole vaulting in the spring of 2015, Perrine decided that she needed to find a sport that she was passionate about. Both of her parents competed at elite levels in pole vaulting, wrestling, and judo, so they saw the value in participating in sports and they encouraged their children to do the same. 

With this pressure from her parents, Perrine felt a bit lost because she was not having any luck with the sports she was pursuing. However, in September of 2015, Perrine remembered an ad she saw from the 2012 Olympics. 

“I remember watching a rowing ad during the 2012 Olympics and thought to myself, ‘Huh, I should try that,’” Perrine said

While she did nothing to pursue her rowing career in 2012, three years later, when she felt lost in the world of sports, she decided to fulfill that desire. 

Perrine started rowing for Emulation Nautique de Bordeaux and instantly fell in love with the sport, as well as the people. 

“At first, I was terrified to start a sport I had never tried, nevermind knew much about,” Perrine said, “but then I met some of the most wonderful people who have helped shape me into the athlete and person I am today.” 

While her introduction into the sport was met with hesitation and fear, the people she met through it helped her feel comfortable and confident in herself and her rowing abilities. 


Since starting the sport of rowing in 2015, Perrine has become a very accomplished athlete. She mainly rowed in small boats, either twoperson or fourperson boats, where she ranked nationally in the pair (two-person boat)  in the top 10 in the U18 category and placed third at the French National Championships in the four-person boat. Due to her athletic success in France, Perrine started to get contacted by coaches from universities in the United States. While Perrine loves France, she had a dream of going to school in the U.S. and rowing was her ticket to do so, so she decided to make the move to Florida where she attended and rowed at Nova Southeastern University (NSU). 

At NSU, Perrine rowed in the top boat, the varsity 8, for her two-and-half-year career at NSU. She was one of their top performers and consistently proved her rowing abilities every day. However, with the Covid-19 Pandemic putting a major financial burden on many university athletic departments, Perrine and her teammates were informed that their team was being cut in August of 2020. In a panic, Perrine started to contact other coaches around the country in order to transfer. She got in contact with the recruiting coach from Gonzaga University and instantaneously fell in love with the program and school. Perrine decided to make the cross-country move from Florida to Spokane in order to continue her rowing career. 

Since her move to Spokane, Perrine has made a new home in a city she had never heard of before September of 2020, and she has made some friendships that she never anticipated. While she has thrived athletically and academically at Gonzaga, the most growth she has found has been in her perspective on life. 

Throughout her rowing career, she has realized that things never exactly go according to plan, but they always work out for the better. Now finishing up her undergraduate studies and applying to the Gonzaga Graduate school for Sports Management, Perrine is looking forward to this upcoming spring season. While she will continue on to complete her fifth year of eligibility next school year, Perrine knows that she will be closing one chapter of her life come this May. 

Photo: (Courtesy: Perrine Sarraute)