DANVILLE — Greg Watson grew up in Chicago, but he fell in love with Danville — the town where he spent many happy hours as a child visiting his grandparents and cousins.
After they were married in 1988, Greg and his wife, Odette, decided to make Danville their permanent home. And today they agree that Danville was a wonderful place to raise their two daughters — Gabrielle and Arianna — who are both in college.
Gabrielle is a sophomore at the University of Iowa, majoring in pre-dentistry as well as communication science disorders.
“I want a backup plan in case dental school doesn’t work out,” she said.
Gabrielle enjoyed her four years at Danville High School, where she was in show choir and Madrigals.
Her choice of an extracurricular activity at college was a big surprise to her friends and family. This is Gabrielle’s second year on the school’s highly competitive women’s rowing team, which practices up to 20 hours a week.
Odette was most surprised when she heard about her daughter’s newest activity.
“When Gabrielle told me that she joined the rowing team, I was shocked,” she said. “She never learned to swim well, and the rowers don’t wear life jackets.”
However, Gabrielle assured her family that she’s become a much improved swimmer since she joined the rowing team.
Gabrielle explained that when she approached the table to register for her college choir, she noticed that the rowing team sign-up table was right next to it. Even though she had never rowed before, she was picked out of the crowd that day to try out for the team, most likely because of her strong physique.
“I did well at the tryouts and decided right away that rowing was something I loved doing,” she said.
“I like to have one big thing that I spend my time on so I can schedule everything else around it,” Gabrielle said. And right now rowing happens to be that single “big thing” in this college sophomore’s life.