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Q&A: Inside the mind of Gabbie Ewing

WWU’s new assistant athletic director for marketing shares her journey from Hawaii to Sweden to the Pacific Northwest.

Gabbie Ewing, assistant athletic director for marketing at Western Washington University, takes in the competition at the 2024 GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 19, 2024, in Spokane, Wash. Ewing was a digital media and championship assistant for the GNAC in 2023-24. // Photo by Thomas Lal, courtesy of

Gabbie Ewing was hired as the assistant athletic director for marketing at Western Washington University on April 1, 2024. She was a student-athlete at Concordia University Portland, playing soccer from 2015-19. Ewing was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2017. 

After graduating in 2019 with a degree in exercise and sports science, Ewing signed a contract to play for the Skövde AIK soccer club in Sweden. Afterward, she went to Solent University in Southampton, England, and obtained her Master’s in Sports Management. 

Ewing returned from overseas, becoming a gameday assistant and promotions team member for the Portland Timbers and Thorns. She created The Athlete Confidential, a website and community, focusing on mental health, athlete identity and life after sports. She also hosted the 2023-24 GNAC Insider Podcast

Q: What was your living experience like growing up in Kailua-Kona?

A: After moving to the mainland and making friends from other places, my experience growing up in Hawaii was very different from a lot of my friends. It’s a really small community, you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you know. I grew up heavily in Hawaiian culture, I’m Japanese and Caucasian, so I got Japanese influence as well. I feel really lucky to have grown up in a place like Hawaii. 

Q:  What made you choose Concordia University Portland? Was it tough to leave Hawaii?

A: I was ready to leave, I was ready to get off the island. I knew home would always be there for me if I wanted to come back. It was a little bit of a transition because there were a lot of cultural differences, but I couldn’t wait to graduate, start college and play soccer at a higher level.

Q: You were named GNAC Player of the Year in 2017. What made that season different for you? 

A: My junior year of soccer was [when] I decided I wanted to continue playing after college and wanting to pursue a professional career. I knew to do that, I had to work so much harder during the last two seasons I had as a college athlete. I had an amazing coaching staff that helped develop me into a better soccer player and my teammates pushed me. 

There were six of us that started originally as freshmen and [played] through senior year. They trusted me with the ball and supported me a lot. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have had the same success, they helped to build me up on and off the field.

Q: After getting your bachelor’s you went to play overseas in Sweden. What was that experience like? What did you learn about yourself during that time?

A: I’m very grateful for the opportunity that I had. All my energy could be focused on soccer for the first time in my life which was cool. The level of play was a little lower than I expected. My team kind of struggled. I would say the better teams in our conference played at a high level. That was kind of a challenge for me, trying to figure out how I could get better and challenge myself to progress in my professional career – because I wasn’t necessarily surrounded by people I felt were pushing me. 

I ended up getting injured. I tore a ligament in my ankle – I finished the season and went back home in October or November of 2019. My plan was to sign another contract somewhere else but my ankle wasn’t getting better and I had to get surgery. I knew the next season was going to be put on hold for me. Then Covid hit and….yeah, my professional career started and ended very quickly. 

Q: Tell me about your time as a gameday assistant and promotions team member for the Timbers and Thorns. How did that come to be? Was there anything that has stood with you from that experience?

A: I had been applying for jobs and couldn’t get anything. I ended up opening up my search to jobs outside of sports. I got hired by a company called Unifylink doing graphic design and social media work for about seven months. I got to a point where I wanted to work in sports. The Timbers and Thorns happened to be hiring and I applied. I thankfully got a callback and that was my foot in the door to the sports world. 

It was an emotional experience for me because it was the sport that I loved playing. At one point, I had aspirations of making it to the level the Thorns were at, so it was hard to work for them for a little bit. It was interesting trying to navigate that job because I knew I really wanted to be there, but at the same time…it was a little hard for me. 

It was a great environment there, everyone was really friendly and getting to be on the sidelines for every home game…it doesn’t get better than that. 

Q: You were a digital media and championship assistant for the GNAC, and now you’re the assistant athletic director for marketing at WWU. Looking back, did you ever think that your young self would become this involved within the GNAC? 

A: No, it’s so funny because I was a student-athlete in the GNAC and I loved my time as a student-athlete. I would’ve never guessed this would be where I’m at now, especially because I didn’t study sports management, or marketing or anything in my undergrad – [it was] something I discovered a couple of years later that I was interested in, so that path completely changed. 

The funny thing about being at Western now is when I was at Concordia, [Western] was somewhat of a rival to us, it was always great competition playing against them, it was always a fun battle. So it’s funny to be a Viking now. I never imagined it, but I’m so happy that I landed here and get to be a part of the GNAC, especially because I had that student-athlete experience in this conference.  

Q: What are two things student-athletes should remember to make sure they achieve their goals going into the future?

A: The first thing I will share [is that] comparison is the thief of all joy. Your journey is not going to be the same as the person next to you and you have to stop thinking that way. I think as athletes we often compare ourselves to the person next to us because we’re always fighting for a starting spot or we’re playing against another team. We’re always trying to be better than the people around us. [But] we have to focus on ourselves and give ourselves grace, especially in life and know that your path is not going to be the same as the person next to you…and that’s ok. 

The second piece of motivation is if you have a dream…go for it! Talk about it – some people don’t like to talk about it because if it doesn’t come true, then they feel like they failed. Talk about it like you’re already living in it. 

You can listen to an episode of the podcast GNAC Insider here, where Gabbie Ewing talks with Central Washington freshman Emy Ntekpere. Ntekepre earned 2nd-Team All-American honors and the 2024 GNAC Indoor Track and Field Female Freshman of the Year.

GNAC Insider, Hosted by Gabbie Ewing

Audio episode courtesy of Gabbie Ewing, from March 22, 2024, GNAC Insider


Aiden Luhr

Aiden Luhr is a junior at Western and a sports reporter for The Front. He is a journalism news/editorial major and enjoys anything sports related. You can reach him at

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