Baltimore native and Yale senior guard Jalen Gabbidon is soon going to be playing in the NCAA Tournament … and launching a fitness app.
On March 13, Gabbidon and the Yale basketball team beat Princeton, 66-64, in the Ivy League tournament final to send the Bulldogs to their sixth NCAA Tournament in program history. Yale won one game, a massive upset against Baylor in 2016, in its previous five appearances.
Gabbidon, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound senior, was born in Baltimore but moved to Harrisburg, Pa., when he was a year old and grew up there. He averaged 37 points a game his junior year at Harrisburg Academy and scored 60 points in a game while battling the flu. He realized he needed a bigger challenge.
Gabbidon’s uncle lived in Laurel, Md., and his cousin attended Glenelg Country School, so he knew about the local basketball scene. Glenelg competes in the MIAA A Conference, so Gabbidon decided to move down to Maryland, live with his uncle and attend Glenelg as a senior during the 2016-17 school year.
“That year in Glenelg changed a lot for me basketball-wise,” Gabbidon said on Glenn Clark Radio March 17. “I had never really faced consistently a lot of the same competition. I had a great summer with them to help me prepare for my [final] year of AAU, where a lot of the offers were kind of like, ‘We like you,’ or whatever. [Those] became a lot stronger because of the way I developed over that summer, including Yale and they were happy to take me, I think.”
Gabbidon is averaging 11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Yale this year while shooting 48.3 percent from the field. He will look to lead his team to an upset of Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 14 seed Bulldogs face off with the No. 3 seed Boilermakers on Friday at 2 p.m. EST on TBS.
Gabbidon cannot wait for his team’s opportunity.
“Being able to represent everyone who has helped me along the way means so much to me,” Gabbidon said. “It’s every kid’s dream, every child basketball player’s dream to be in March Madness. … To really embrace the moment that we’ve done something special, it’s something that I will always look back on and be proud that I was a contributor on that team.”
Gabbidon’s work won’t end once the season is over. In about a month, he is planning to launch an app called “Launchpad,” which will allow users to become better athletes without paying a lot of money for a personal trainer. He is working with trainer Doug Goldstein on the app.
“Launchpad is in the realm of fitness apps,” Gabbidon said. “… If you were in high school, outside of going to a trainer where you’re paying $60 an hour, there’s not really much to fall back on [regarding] how to become a better athlete and that’s so where the idea of Launchpad was born. We’re building this app that helps train athletes to be more explosive. We’re doing that through a variety of ways.”
Being a student at Yale seems challenging enough, let alone being a student-athlete at Yale while creating and developing a fitness app. When he started at Yale, Gabbidon envisioned an NBA future for himself. But after a freshman year in which he did not play due to injury, he started to branch out more in computer science.
“I decided to major in computer science, something that piqued my interest,” Gabbidon said. “I actually interned at Google twice — my sophomore and junior year — and so that got me into the software world, but I never really had an entrepreneurial [drive] for it.”
Despite not having a drive for the software world, he found time to build on his skills and make connections during COVID. Gabbidon decided to take a gap year instead of attending school during the 2020-21 school year because the Ivy League does not allow for graduate students to remain eligible for athletics.
Since the Ivy League canceled the basketball season last year, Gabbidon did not want to waste a year of eligibility. This allowed for the creation of the app to actually happen. Gabbidon connected with Goldstein through Yale head coach James Jones and former Bulldogs hoops player Jason Abromatis.
“We got connected through that,” Gabbidon said. “Next thing I knew, I met him in July  and I moved into his basement [in Denver] with his wife and kids at the end of August and was there for a full year in his basement working on this with him.”
For more from Gabbidon, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Yale Athletics