Scholastica senior juggles school, sports and musicSt. Scholastica 21-year-old senior Preston Gunderson has been playing music since he was three, and football since he was in the fourth grade. In his senior season with the Saints football team, Gunderson was part of a team that made history in only its fourth season, while working on his second album, titled “While I was Gone.”
By: Sarah Packingham, Duluth Budgeteer News
St. Scholastica 21-year-old senior Preston Gunderson has been playing music since he was three, and football since he was in the fourth grade.
In his senior season with the Saints football team, Gunderson was part of a team that made history in only its fourth season, while working on his second album, titled “While I was Gone.”
When asked how he was able to juggle going to school full-time, playing football and working on an album release, Gunderson chuckled.
“That’s kind of an interesting question,” he said. “I didn’t sleep much. I was usually pretty busy from whenever I got going in the morning until late at night and having homework; I’d have to stay up late.”
Gunderson said he had to work to manage his priorities and that he worked with a number of people who were very understanding, including coaches, teachers, family, friends and teammates.
Most of the songs for the “While I Was Gone” album were written during the spring 2011 semester while Gunderson studied in Ireland and London, and most of the recording was completed by August 2011 so he could focus on the Scholastica football team.
Focus was what helped Gunderson and his teammates finish their season with a 10-1 record, with their only loss being to St. Thomas in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
“It was the best season I’ve ever had, period,” Gunderson said. “It was pretty magical, that’s how I would put it. We went from a first-year program that really struggled and then built to this year.”
Gunderson said he felt that he really progressed this season as an individual football player. He said he felt better and stronger and also better mentally. As a whole, the Saints really had their heads in the game, Gunderson said.
“We were a lot more mentally tough,” he said. “I think that played a big part in our success, keeping an eye on the prize, taking it one step at a time.”
His time on the Saints team is not something that he will easily, or soon, forget. “You feel so honored and so pleased to be a part of something so special,” Gunderson said.
Both music and sports have been an emotional outlet for Gunderson over the years. “I play music and write because I love doing it, and it’s a way for me to express myself,” he said. “Athletics is similar too; I play football because I love playing football. It isn’t always about stored-up aggression. Football is like musical harmony. Everything flows together and everyone impacts each other.”
They both also require a strong work ethic, he says. Once football and school started, Gunderson still had to work hard on his album even though most of the recording had been done. He worked on artwork, did photo shoots and interviews, and joined an organization that will help him fight for his royalties if he ever needs to; basically, he is preparing himself for the life of a musician.
Gunderson’s next show in Duluth will be at the University of Minnesota Duluth Wednesday, Jan. 18, opening for Sarah Krueger. His fan page can also be found on Facebook, and his album can be found on iTunes.
Within four days of its iTunes release, “While I Was Gone” found itself in the top 200 pop album sales, one spot behind Beyoncé.
In May, Gunderson will leave St. Scholastica and the Saints football program behind him as he graduates with a degree in humanities with an emphasis on music and communications.
When asked if he would have expected such success in both football and music nearly four years ago when he started at Scholastica, he thought for a moment before answering.
“You can never really know what to expect,” Gunderson said. “I don't know where I’ll be four years from now. I think it’s kind of the way the last four years have been, living the moment, seizing the opportunity and making the most of it, whether it’s football, school or music.”
“I wanted to be successful throughout the years and do things that others weren’t necessarily doing and follow my passion and my love,” Gunderson added. “I didn’t want to waste any of the time that I do have. You waste time, you'll never get that back ... I wanted to do what I love, and I love playing football, and I love making music. Did I see it coming? No. Are you always hopeful? Yes. You want positive outcomes, so maybe after the second or third year, I saw it. But after the first year, it wasn’t so evident.”
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes a weekly sports column for the Budgeteer. Contact her at email@example.com.