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What is the best aspect of triathlon becoming an NCAA Emerging Sport for women?
Women Leaders: Mia Erickson Stevens
How did you use the grant funds you received from the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee?
The grant funds were used to support the Crossgates Multi-Sport Women’s Triathlon Program. We have purchased a banner, shirts, uniforms, and we sponsored women by paying for their training and registration fees for races.
How and why did you get involved with this group?
I started competing in triathlons in 1986 and have been coaching swimming since 1982. While coaching a masters swim team, I realized there were many women who were interested in competing in triathlons but did not know where to begin. I started training individuals several years ago and this past summer offered a women’s only group triathlon training program and participants ranged in age from 15 to 74 years old. It was so much fun to watch the women progress over the summer!
As a leader, I’m sure you have had some rewarding experiences.
I love watching all the beginner women progress over the summer. Our beginning team started off doing a brick with a 6-mile neighborhood ride and a 1-mile run. By the end of the training session (eight weeks), everyone had progressed to biking a minimum of 23 miles and running 2 to 3 miles.
I also loved helping women learn to swim in the open water. Many of participants didn’t know how to swim at first. And then to progress to from when I first met them and then to ask them to jump off of a boat and swim — well that was very inspiring to witness. Many had to conquer their fears of the open water.
Can you share some success stories of girls or women who have participated in your program?
Certainly. In 2010 Cindy Melton (left) joined masters swimming and I convinced her to try a triathlon. By 2011 she competed in her first RocketChix Triathlon.
Being overweight though, she could not fit into her uniform. She worked very hard and this year she competed in the RocketChix race and was able to fit into her uniform! Cindy has lost more than 100 pounds and improved her times on her swim, bike and run. She is an inspiration to all of us!
Joyce Buie (right) is another inspirational lady on the Crossgates Multi-Sport team. Joyce is 61 years old. When she came to train with our team three years ago, she could not swim and started out on an old recreational bike with dry, rotted tires.
She has since purchased a road bike and learned to swim and has competed in three or four triathlons each year — including races with open water ocean swims. Additionally, she usually places in her age group and has qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championships.
How did you grow your training program? Did you use social media?
We did not advertise much this year. We used word of mouth and advertised on Facebook. Since we have such a wide range of athletes, we relied on word of mouth. Posting and tagging people on Facebook, helped spread the word very quickly.
Social media has helped build our team by making it easier and quicker to share stories, training tips, team pictures and additional training times.
Do you have any anecdotes from RocketChix or Girl Power Triathlons, two of the races the team competes in?
A funny thing that happened after the RocketChix Triathlon. We were asked to have our group picture taken, not from the front but from the backside. We had all come up with nicknames and had them printed on the back of our tri uniforms.
Do you have any sponsors?
We don’t currently have any sponsors but would love to have some in the future!
What’s new and exciting with Crossgrates Multi-Sport for 2014?
I hope Crossgates Multi-Sport continues to grow with an even more diverse group of women, men and youth teams. This past year was a very successful and it was fun to watch everyone improve and make lifelong friends.
Photos courtesy Mia Erickson Stevens.
Mia Erickson Stevens is a USA Triathlon Level I and Youth Certified Coach and USA Cycling Level III Certified Coach. She has also coached swimming for 30 years (open water, age group and masters). She lives in Slidell, La., with her husband Scott and daughter Kira. Mia also has a strong interest in working with paratriathletes and will be holding a USAT sponsored clinic for children in 2014.
For more information about Crossgates Multi-Sport, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/crossgatesmultisport.
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.