I’m pedaling a high cadence on a nicely paved road in New York. I’m in aero-position, and all I can think about is beating my personal record here at Lake George. My mind shifts back and forth from this race to my recently completed ironman. “My knee will never hold up,” I tell myself. My speed increases as I begin a long descent, when in the distance I see a triathlete with a familiar kit. “Could that be one of mine?” I thought to myself. It becomes clear to me as I quickly approach, that I’m closing the gap on one of my own from Edinboro University! As I whiz by I yell, “You’d better catch up to me!”
After the race, I found out that athlete had two flat tires and crashed twice. Whoops, maybe I should have slowed down to see if he was ok instead of flying by. Thankfully he was ok, and no matter what pain he was in physically or mentally, he pushed through and finished the race. He showed the true mental toughness of a triathlete. A few days later I asked him, “How on earth did you pedal up those hills with two flat tires?” He just shook his head and chuckled.
I am a full-time employee of Edinboro University and the Advisor of the EU Triathlon Club and as I reflect on that event, I wonder if I did enough for my athletes. Maybe I should have had better ‘Race Day’ trainings, and explained to always check your tires the morning of the race, instead of assuming that was a given. Although we have some elites on our team, we also have those who have never completed in a triathlon before.
In August, students start flooding the University and although triathlon season may be over for most, for me, it’s just another beginning: recruitment, fundraising, trainings, meetings, paperwork. In the back of my mind I am always thinking; what can I do to help my athletes better themselves? When can we have trainings that fit everyone’s schedules? How can we make the new athletes feel a part of the Club and the University? What contacts do I have that I can use to influence or excite my athletes for the sport?
We have mandatory monthly University Club meetings that one of the athletes in club must attend. So multiple texts and emails are sent until I finally get a confirmation someone will be there. We volunteer at local races for fundraising, which again requires multiple emails and texts to make sure we are all there. Then I also deal with the Student Government Association to make sure everyone has turned in all the required paperwork; whether it be hazing forms, receipts from our trips, or something as simple as joining our roster. As I reply to the SGA that I sent texts to remind the athletes to turn in the paperwork but haven’t gotten reply, their reply to me is “it begins again”.
I feel my role as an Advisor of the club is to take care of the athletes so they can concentrate on school and training. As much headache as it is to chase after them to do what needs to be done, the team as a whole has created a bond that is exciting to watch. I thoroughly enjoy talking to each one about their swimming form, teaching them how to use a time trial bike, having timed transition trainings in the gym during our cold winters, and organizing a team bonding trip to an Olympic training center. I love watching them goof off, laugh, train hard, and look out for each other.
Our Club is only two years old, but it has already doubled in size. Our ‘veterans’ look out for the ‘newbies’. The Club is now a group of friends not only on the course, but across campus. My hope is to create a love of the sport and a bond that will continue after they graduate. As an Advisor, I hope to be a role model and educator, and give them the resources they need to succeed. My favorite moment so far has been watching one of the athletes compete in their first-ever triathlon. Afterwards he came up to me and said “Brianne, you got me hooked”. Hearing those words gives me satisfaction knowing we are on the right path, and is why I do what I do.