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Women's Leaders: Michelle Powell Q&A

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This past year Michelle Powell (Mid-Atlantic Region) submitted a winning grant application to the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee on behalf of Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club based in Mullica Hill, N.J. One of the club founders, Powell shares experiences as well as the rewards of working with women triathletes. 

Per your grant application, you will be using this toward the club’s Queen of the Hill Triathlon. How will this grant help out?
"Queen of the Hill takes place in a private lake community, so the grant will help offset the cost of hosting the triathlon and open water practice swims at this location. Queen of the Hill is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, 2014."

 
Triathlon mentor Lorri Zeiders (left) congratulates
Karen Saporito after the 2013 Queen of the Hill
triathlon


How and why did you get involved with this group? What is your background racing and coaching?

"Exercise and fitness have always been an integral part of my life. In 2009, I competed in my first triathlon and was hooked. Mutual friendships and love of the sport brought the other founders Maureen Brigham, Lydia DelRosso, Colleen Fossett, and myself together. We wanted to share our passion for doing triathlons with others in our community.

Can you share any advice for organizing a women’s specific triathlon club or training program?
"The growth of our club to more than 800 members in only four short years has truly been a phenomenon. Members learned about it by word of mouth on the soccer and baseball fields and in places like the local coffee shop. One of the reasons I think we have been so successful is that we are extremely newbie friendly and do all we can to support and encourage all our members through their training."

How has social media helped your club and training program?
"Our Facebook page, website and weekly emails provide members with instant access to current events associated with the club. Members are able to feel connected to each other through the very active cyber network we currently have in place. Furthermore, we are able to support the triathlon community by promoting local races."

You had a singles mingle function in September, how did it go? Would you recommend it for other women's triathlon clubs? What other successful social programs do you host?
"Our inaugural singles mingle was a success! We had approximately 70 singles turn out for the event. I would highly recommend this type of gathering for other triathlon clubs. Everyone in attendance had common interests so it made it easy to converse and get to know one another. We also host a few events each season that are open to the public to raise funds for our current charity. This past year we held two events, a comedy night and a golf outing."

Can you share a success story of a girl or woman triathlete who have been in your program?
"Sure, but I’d rather you hear it from one of our triathletes. This is from Karen Saporito (in her own words): 'I had never run in my life before last February. I had asthma as a kid and hated feeling out of breath. I decided I wanted to conquer this hatred of running because it felt like self-doubt, like I was holding myself back. I was also turning 45 in August, which I was dreading. I signed up for the club and signed up for a mentor. My mentor felt like a friend I had known forever when we met, and still does. She trained with me so many times and never made me feel like I was slowing her down, even though she was training for more challenging races than I. Every workout I did with her, my friends, or with the club was fun and incredibly encouraging. I also enjoyed encouraging others who were also newbies. While the training was challenging, I never felt it was beyond my reach. At the newbie meeting I wrote two goals on the banner, to complete a sprint triathlon (Queen of the Hill) and to become a runner. I did both. I did the tri in June and the five-mile race in October. I love running the most because it's the hardest. I plan to do more races next year and I have off-season goals of lifting for strength, and working on speed. I've completed other goals in my life but really felt like this was on par with my black belt and my Ph.D., but it was way more fun. I can't wait for the kickoff meeting for next season.'”

What’s new and exciting in 2014 with Mullica Hill Women's Triathlon Club?
"In 2014, we will be donating funds to our local high school for a scholarship, and we are organizing some really terrific monthly workshops for our club members to attend." 

For information about Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club click here.

All photos courtesy of the Mullica Hill Women’sTriathlon Club

About the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee
The USA Triathlon Women’s Committee is focused on creating a resource for female athletes of all levels and socioeconomic backgrounds by mentoring professional growth for women in the sport of triathlon. The Women’s Committee is concentrating on the quality of training as well as opportunities available for women in positions of authority and decision-making within associations that govern the sport. The WC is a national committee of women from all over the U.S. with a variety of professions and diverse levels of participation in triathlon.

For information on the Women’s Committee and upcoming grant opportunities click here

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