Men’s gymnast Joel Gagnon recently completed his four-year career. Capping off his career as the team’s national runner up, Gagnon was also a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award (the men’s gymnastics version of the Heisman) and is a two-time All-American at Minnesota. Gagnon was also a standout in the classroom. An aerospace engineering major, he was also an Academic All-Big Ten and CGA All-America Scholar. However, his undergraduate career is just the beginning. He is continuing his education at McGill University in Montreal and is set to train with Team Canada for the next Olympics. Gagnon was also the recent recipient of the Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship. We caught up with Gagnon in our latest Going Pro series.
Gopher Sports: What has the men’s gymnastics team done for you both in and outside of the program?
Joel Gagnon: The men’s gymnastics team was a family immediately when I stepped onto campus. For me, moving to a different country was a little bit nerve racking, but having 20 guys right away that were there for you was awesome. Throughout the years they’ve been a crazy, amazing, supportive group--we’ve had a lot of awesome memories and we finished our season on a great high note so it was the cherry on top of going to Minnesota.
GS: You’re an aerospace engineering major, how have you been able to balance that while being a Division I student athlete?
JG: Being able to manage both came down to discipline. I made sure to prioritize my time pretty strictly--I would study a lot and spend a lot of time in the gym. Luckily the coaches were really good at making sure to give me time to study or a lot of times there would be a class conflict with practice and they would come in early or late in the gym to accommodate me. Luckily, I had people around me that are pretty flexible that were able to work with my school and gym so that I could make both happen.
GS: What are your plans after undergrad and going forward?
JG: The current plan is to get a master's in aerospace engineering at McGill University in Montreal, so I am excited to move back to Canada. I am going to keep training as well because I am on the Canadian National Team, so the goal is to hopefully make that 2020 Olympic Team in Tokyo so I am going to train until then. I’m just going to keep doing what I am now just at the next level.
GS: How do you plan to train and manage to go through Graduate school and are there any differences between being on this campus and being in Montreal?
JG: What’s great about coming here is that it is so well integrated. Everything is on campus, everything you need and the resources are there, so I think this is going to be a little bit more challenging to coordinate how to get to training, how to get to my class on time. I am hoping the skills I’ve learned in time management will definitely help me. I guess I don’t know yet if it is going to go smoothly or not, but my fingers are crossed.
GS: Where will you be training at?
JG: I will be training in Montreal and it should be close by. I am hoping to take public transit between class and gym.
GS: How have your coaches and Student Athlete Development been able to help you achieve your undergrad and moving forward?
JG: They were a huge part. Coaches are great with flexibility and making sure that I was able to go to class or do what I need to do like getting to tutoring. At first tutoring helped me a lot I think just to first of all have that dedicated time you have to study and then being able to ask those little questions which may be nice to go to office hours and ask the professor, but the reality is that we are really busy and can’t always make those happen. It definitely helped me at least at the beginning when I was getting my feet on the ground and trying to understand how everything works.
GS: You were the recipient of the Big Ten Post-Grad award, how did you find out and what was your reaction?
JG: We were at the Golden Goldys (annual banquet) and that’s when they announced it. I was super happy to hear my name get called because that is a pretty nice amount of money that’s going to make going to graduate school a lot easier for me and I’m excited about that.
GS: If you could give one piece of advice to your underclassmen or fellow Gophers about preparing for life after college what would it be?
JG: That is hard. I think balance is key. Make sure you have some good times with your friends, but also make sure that you’re putting the time into your sport and your studies. It goes by fast and you learn a lot of great skills when you’re doing the right things. With balance you can make sure every aspect of your life is being touched on.
GS: Anything else you would like to say about your time at Minnesota?
JG: It’s been great being a part of the Gopher men’s gymnastics team and I’m looking forward to see how they do in the future.
Going Pro Previous Entries
Football: Brandon Lingen
Women's Swimming & Diving: Beth Etterman
Going Pro: Emerald Egwim
5/23/2018 - Student-Athlete Affairs
Women’s track student-athlete Emerald Egwim has been preparing for life after athletics even before she ran for the Golden Gophers.
Going Pro: Joel Gagnon
5/16/2018 - Student-Athlete Affairs
Men’s gymnast Joel Gagnon recently completed his four-year career and is ready to embark on the next endeavor.
Going Pro: Beth Etterman
5/10/2018 - Student-Athlete Affairs
University of Minnesota diver Beth Etterman is set to begin another chapter in her life.