Team Triumph prepares young athletes for triathlons
Even in athletics, necessity is the mother of invention.
For years, Lori Poe would bump into Robin Stevenson and Kristine Fishell at different triathlons, in which their children participated. The mothers discussed tactics and training methods and realized something was missing...a forum and place where young athletes could train. “They all wanted to get a team started,” Poe said.
So Poe sent out an email blast to assess interest. When more than a dozen youth responded, Team Triumph was born.
Once a week, the kids meet at Tandem Connection, a bicycle shop owned by Poe, her husband, David, and Seth Fosmire, and utilize the Montour Trail for training rides and runs. One Wednesday evening each month during the summer, there are competitions, like the Triple Scoop Challenge. The award is ice cream, which is sold at the store in a variety of 16 flavors.
While the focus is on the basics of running, cycling, training and races, reviewing transitions, a key part of a triathlon, are discussed and practiced.
“The sport of triathlon is growing with more races and opportunities for kids to try a race,” said Poe, who also coaches cross country and track at Chartiers Valley High School. “Often a first-time triathlete can’t image what it takes to finish a triathlon, which requires an individual to be committed to training daily and to master three different sports. By doing this, we are giving them an opportunity to learn about the sport and have a group to train with and at triathlons, we’ll have a team tent where the kids will have a place to cheer for each other. So it’s really about camaraderie with the triathlon sports.”
It’s hardly a case of misery loves company as there were only smiles among the team members after they completed a 5K scavenger run race as well as a staggered start bike race during one practice session that always begins with warm-up exercises and ends with stretching and a cool-down.
“It’s really fun,” Brady Wiggers said of the training sessions. “I’ve liked the activities that we’ve been doing.
“Yes,” he agreed it prepares him for the many triathlons he will participate in this summer. “It’s getting me in shape.”
Because most young triathletes belong to clubs during the summer months, they are in swimming shape, notes Poe. That is why Team Triumph zeroes in on the land activities. Most members of Team Triumph compete on the Upper St. Clair/Chartiers Valley combined swim club or the Mt. Lebanon Aqua Club.
Some, like Jillian Fishell, belongs to the Pacer Track Club. So the Upper St. Clair resident does not find the running too taxing.
“I enjoy running the most and I like the running because it’s a harder work out,” she explained. “I don’t bike in a club so I get more experience here biking.
“I started swimming first but there was a triathlon that had swimming in it so I thought it was another sport thing with swimming in it. It’s all three sports in the triathlon so it’s good training with a team.
“We are like a triathlon team,” Fishell continued. “It’s good having other people together with you, training together. They push you,” added the seventh-grade student at Fort Couch Middle School.
For Fishell, it’s good having her sister, Alexandra, on the team. Because she really liked triathlons, Ally said, she wanted to belong to Team Triumph.
“We bike and run a lot at practice so it helps me get prepared for triathlons,” she said. “It pushed me to go faster with other people.
“I really like it. And it’s really fun, ” she added. “The training makes me want to do more triathlons.”
Participating in triathlons can become an addictive activity for youth. This is a positive thing says Poe.
“Ultimately, it is a great way to stay physically active over the summer and have a goal,” she said. “Once they complete a race the sense of accomplishment will help lead them through life, another race and teach the kids about staying physically active for a lifetime.”
Though only 10, Wiggers has completed in his share of triathlons. He’s a regular at the Habitat For Humanity series of events held at South Park and North Park as well as the Youth Triathlon scheduled for July 22 at Boyce-Mayview Park as well as the Autism Triathlon set for July 30 at the Settler’s Park Wave Pool.
“The ones that have been a challenge to me,” said Wiggers, a regular placewinner, “were at North Park and the Kiski Kids because there were a lot more kids there than the others. But this year is going to be more challenging because I move from the younger age group to the older one. So the distances will be doubled. I am a little concerned about the running. I’m a better swimmer and biker than I am a runner,” added Wiggers, who swims for Chartiers Country Club in the summer.
Being part of Team Triumph, makes Wiggers less apprehensive and a better performer.
“We have a really, really nice team,” he said. “I like being part of the team because we have a lot of nice people to help you out.
“Yes,” he replied enthusiastically. “It helps me get through the training.
That group support fuels the goals behind Team Triumph, which is a blend of athletes, ages 7 through 16.
“We have a great blend of older and younger kids,” said Poe. “They younger kids look up to the older kids. Learn how to do triathlons. Just to be physically fit. It’s a great sport with three different elements of swimming, biking and running so something that you can do throughout your life.”
Ally Fishell agreed 100 percent. “It’s good for everything,” she enthused.
And no matter at what element of a triathlon the athlete excels, competing on a team encourages improvement.
“It’s about being able to do all three,” Poe said. “They all know, if I’m not a good swimmer, I can work at being a little bit better swimmer. If I’m not a good runner, then I can work at being a better runner.
“I don’t think for all of them it’s about being the best. You don’t have to be great at one particular thing.
“It’s a thrill to finish. It’s definitely a sense of accomplishment. They are thrilled that they did three different things. They did it all at once. They all love them and they have a lot of fun. Here, we are just giving them that experience to train and to enjoy themselves.”