Pulling Ahead

Former Nittany Lion lineman Matt Stankiewitch is quickly climbing the ranks of indoor rowers.

Matt Stankiewitch on indoor rowing machine photo courtesy Stankiewitch

Hoping to switch up his workouts and stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic, Matt Stankiewitch ’12 Bus, ’12 Com bought a rowing machine. Now, the former Penn State offensive lineman is a world-class rower. Stankiewitch placed third among Americans and seventh overall in the 500-meter virtual race at the 2022 World Rowing Indoor Championships in February, improving upon a 13th-place finish the previous year. In July, he and his team finished first in the virtual Concept2 Cross Team rowing challenge.

The Orwigsburg, Pa., native was an all–Big Ten center for the Lions in 2012 and spent parts of the 2013 season with the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars. At 6-foot-3, he weighed 300 pounds during his playing days but struggled to maintain that weight. “I would lose 10 pounds per practice during preseason camp,” he says. Since his football career wrapped, Stankiewitch has stayed at a more comfortable 255 pounds while consistently taking on new fitness challenges. In addition to rowing, he participates in the Spartan competition series.

He plans to compete in the 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships in February in both the 500-meter and 2,000-meter events and has recently begun competing in CrossFit. “I guess a lot of it is my curiosity to see what I can do, what I can push myself to. How much weight can I lift? Can I do this time faster than somebody else?” he says. “I think ultimately, I’m striving for, 'How can I push my limits?'"