Triathlon Club Leaps Forward
By Matt Hawkins
November 4, 2013
Efforts by student leaders Andrew Cain ’13 and Chris Douglas ‘14 have sparked a renaissance for Bradley University’s triathlon club, which has tripled its membership in two years with Cain and Douglas at the organization’s helm.
“People got really excited and it just took off,” Douglas said. “It feels so natural how it all happened. Everything came together. I was looking for something, remembered this and how much I enjoyed it.”
Faculty adviser Dr. Larry Weinzimmer, a 10-year triathlon veteran, became club sponsor two years ago and watched it blossom.
“Most student organizations are as good as the leader,” he said. “When they get a good student leader, that can take the organization places. Andrew got the ball rolling and Chris took us to a new level. We are now a legitimate club recognized regionally and soon-to-be nationally. It’s to the credit of the students.”
Douglas, a senior mechanical engineering major, fought through two years of nagging injuries as a member of Bradley’s cross-country squad. He started swimming and biking to stay fit while he recovered from running-related injuries.
Then, he competed in a triathlon before his junior year, suffered another leg injury before cross-country season and stepped back from field sports for a year. After a break, he decided to give the triathlon club a chance last year.
“I enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was something I’d get into,” Douglas said. “Then I got hurt again and I ended up in this long-term.”
Douglas worked with sponsors and alumni to build a financial base and local name recognition. As a result, the club is a competitive member of the Mid-East Collegiate Triathlon Conference and formally participates intercollegiate athletics through USA Triathlon (USAT), which governs the sport in similar fashion to the NCAA.
In addition to building the team, Douglas earned personal honors in the summer of 2013 by qualifying to race at the 2014 ITU Short-Course (Olympic) World Championship race in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada as a member of Team USA.
“There will be a lot of people I never had the opportunity to race against,” he said. “It will be a lot of fun.”
The club kept a busy fall slate as members participated in four sanctioned races and one unofficial race. They also volunteered at three area events. Community involvement brought the club more name recognition and exposed members to triathlon hospitality that benefitted the squad.
“This has gone through the roof. Everyone around us is so excited,” Douglas said. “It’s a really friendly community. It’s easy to make the jumps we’ve made because people have been so helpful.”
As cold weather spreads across the Midwest, the triathlon club is preparing for several races, including an indoor triathlon hosted by the club at the Markin Center in February and the 2014 USAT Collegiate National Championships in Tempe, Ariz.
Additionally, the club is collaborating with Student Senate and Get Fit Stay Fit to sponsor a five-week Lazy Man’s Triathlon for the student body beginning November 4. This event gives participants five weeks to complete an ultra-distance triathlon.