First Women’s Varsity Triathlon Program

L-R: Hampton University Vice President Paul C. Harris; Hampton University Director of Athletics Eugene Marshall, Jr.; USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris; Hampton University Assistant Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Dr. Paula Jackson; and Sika Henry, Aspiring Professional Triathlete and Member of the Black Triathletes Association. Courtesy Hampton University – University Relations.

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018

HAMPTON UNIVERSITY BECOMES FIRST HBCU TO ADD WOMEN’S TRIATHLON AS A VARSITY SPORT

NCAA Division I program in Hampton Virginia, to receive HBCU-focused grant from USA Triathlon Foundation

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon, along with Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey and Director of Athletics Eugene Marshall, Jr., today announced that Hampton University will introduce women’s triathlon as a varsity sport starting in the fall of 2019. The school, located in Hampton, Virginia, is the first-ever HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to participate in the sport at the varsity level.

The addition of the Hampton women’s triathlon program is made possible through a $225,000 grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation, which was reserved for the first HBCU that added the sport at the varsity level in a proactive effort to increase diversity in collegiate triathlon. The grant will be distributed over a five-year period and may support travel, equipment, coaching, scholarships and other expenses related to building a sustainable varsity program. 101918 hampton logo_406.png

All other varsity women’s triathlon programs, including future HBCUs, have the opportunity to apply for the standard USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant.

USA Triathlon is planning a number of other initiatives focused on HBCU community engagement, including an indoor triathlon series at HBCU campuses, an HBCU triathlon combine to identify multisport talent, a campus rep program and a professional development program for HBCU students interested in working in the Olympic movement.

These initiatives are part of USA Triathlon’s larger mission to increase diversity in triathlon. The organization has been recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee for two consecutive years for its diversity and inclusion efforts, receiving the USOC’s Advancing Diversity & Inclusion Award in 2017 and the Diversity & Inclusion Choice Award in 2018.

“Hampton University’s addition of a varsity women’s triathlon program is cause for celebration for many reasons,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “USA Triathlon is in the process of collaborating with HBCUs on a variety of initiatives to increase diversity in triathlon at the youth and collegiate level, and this is an important step in that direction. The academic and athletic administration at Hampton have proven to be leaders by committing to this unique opportunity for female student-athletes, who will shape the future of our sport for years to come.”

“This is another example of Hampton University leading the way,” said Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey. “I am proud of the Department of Athletics team that made the Hampton University women’s triathlon program a reality.”

A national search for a head coach will commence immediately, and the athlete recruitment process will begin as soon as a coach is hired.

Hampton becomes the sixth NCAA Division I program and the 26th school overall to sponsor women’s triathlon as a varsity sport. Other programs in USA Triathlon’s Mideast Region include Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C., DIII), Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V., DII), East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn., DI), Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C., DII) and Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky., DIII).

The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives the sport a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability at the NCAA level.

Women’s collegiate triathlon is a fall sport. The varsity season, which is comprised of three regional qualifiers and the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship, features sprint-distance races covering a 750-meter open water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa. For questions regarding varsity collegiate women’s triathlon events and programming, contact Jessica Welk at Jessica.welk@usatriathlon.org.

What others are saying about the addition of women’s triathlon at Hampton University:

Amy Wilson, Managing Director, NCAA Office of Inclusion
“Congratulations to Hampton University on adding women’s triathlon — an NCAA emerging sport — and further enhancing its remarkable tradition of providing meaningful opportunities for student-athletes. I commend USA Triathlon for partnering with Hampton University through its impactful grant program, as well as for its extensive plans to engage with HBCUs across the country to increase the number of diverse student-athletes participating in intercollegiate triathlon.”

John Cassimatis, President, USA Triathlon Foundation
“The USA Triathlon Foundation is proud to present Hampton University with grant funding to build a sustainable women’s varsity triathlon program. The Foundation’s mission is to open pathways to triathlon for all, and a key component of that is increasing racial and ethnic diversity in our sport. Hampton’s presence in the NCAA triathlon family means that young women with dreams of attending an HBCU can now consider triathlon as a collegiate sport option for the first time, which opens new opportunities both academically and athletically.”

Shelley C. Davis, Senior Associate Commissioner and SWA, Big South Conference
“There is tremendous significance in Hampton University adding triathlon. Not only does this provide additional opportunities for women to compete in the sport, but Hampton is also the first Historically Black College/University and Big South Conference member institution to sponsor triathlon. It is exciting to see the growth of triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport, and the Big South looks forward to celebrating Hampton’s success and exposing the sport to the rest of our member institutions.”

Charles Harris, Executive Vice President of Averett University, Former Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Hampton University Alumnus
“I am delighted to offer congratulations to Hampton for taking an innovative step into offering women’s triathlon as a varsity intercollegiate sport. Hampton has a 151-year history of being a pathfinder for opportunities. It comes as no surprise that under the leadership of President Dr. William R. Harvey and Athletic Director Eugene Marshall, Jr., they would seize the opportunity to take a leadership role in opening a new pathway for women in sport. This announcement is the first in what I anticipate will be a wellspring of unique opportunities for HBCU student-athletes to participate in sport at the highest level possible.”

Dr. Tekemia Dorsey, CEO, International Association of Black Triathletes
“Hampton University’s partnership with USA Triathlon provides a pathway into the collegiate arena for the sport at an HBCU for young black women from urban communities around the world. As IABT’s Youth & Junior Club Programs continue to expand here in Maryland through partnerships with urban local school systems, we are now able to advocate, support and encourage enrollment in Hampton University’s triathlon program. I have great hope that other HBCUs will come on board to introduce the program, especially in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. This has been an initiative of mine for several years, and I am ecstatic to see it come to fruition. Historic, groundbreaking, monumental. Great job, Hampton University and USA Triathlon!”

Tony Brown, Founder and President, Black Triathletes Association
“On behalf of the Black Triathletes Association (BTA), I would like to congratulate USA Triathlon and Hampton University on this landmark achievement. It has always been the mission of BTA to promote the sport of triathlon to the black community, and this partnership exemplifies the importance of diversity and inclusion in collegiate-level athletics. Several of the member athletes and volunteers of BTA are HBCU alum and have expressed overwhelming praise and gratitude in this endeavor. We are committed to a multisport lifestyle and look forward to supporting the success of the NCAA women’s triathlon team at Hampton University.”

Current Varsity Women’s Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of Oct. 30, 2018)

NCAA Division I
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)

NCAA Division II
American International College (Springfield, MA)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.)
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.)
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.)

NCAA Division III
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Northern Vermont University (Johnson, Vt.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)


About the USA Triathlon Foundation
The USA Triathlon Foundation was created in 2014 by the USA Triathlon Board of Directors as an independent tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entity. Under the leadership of its Trustees and Committee members, the Foundation serves as a means to create a healthier America through triathlon, and seeks to transform lives by opening up new pathways to the sport for all, especially those who are otherwise underserved. The USA Triathlon Foundation operates with the belief that every child should have the chance to participate, every paratriathlete should have the opportunity to compete, and every aspiring elite athlete should be able to chase his or her Olympic dream. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $1.9 million has been provided to worthy causes and organizations that support its mission. Donations to the USA Triathlon Foundation ensure America’s youth are introduced to the benefits and fun of a multisport lifestyle, athletes with disabilities receive the training, support and gear to be able to participate and excel, and the best aspiring young athletes have a chance to pursue their Olympic Dreams. Visit usatriathlonfoundation.org to learn more and donate today.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors – as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation – USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

IRONMAN AND USA TRIATHLON TEAM UP TO LAUNCH TIME TO TRI INITIATIVE

Industry-wide effort aims to attract 100,000 new participants to the sport by 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. — IRONMAN and USA Triathlon today announced Time to Tri™, an unprecedented industry-wide initiative to grow the sport of triathlon in the United States by supporting and inspiring beginners to complete their first race. With the end of 2020 as a goal of introducing 100,000 new participants to the sport, Time to Tri provides training and racing advice, motivational tools and other resources at its online hub, www.mytimetotri.com.

The initiative, a strategic joint effort founded by both parties, was unveiled this morning at the Triathlon Business International Conference in Tempe, Arizona, in a presentation led by IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick and USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris.

“As an industry leader, we are proud to join forces with USA Triathlon to spearhead the development of Time to Tri,” said Andrew Messick, President and CEO for IRONMAN. “While a lot of effort has gone into this for the past few months, the truth is that we are really just beginning. The power, control and responsibility of this initiative lies with the entire industry and is truly something that should lead to the benefit of all, from athletes, to coaches, clubs, race directors and industry endemics. We all have a common interest in bringing new people into our sport.”

“Since coming onboard as USA Triathlon CEO, my focus has been to increase collaboration across the industry and work together on a shared goal of growing participation in triathlon,” Harris said. “Time to Tri is a critical step in that process, and we are proud to partner with IRONMAN in getting this effort off the ground. But, more importantly, this is an industry-wide initiative, and we will need the support of everyone across all of the sport’s constituency groups to be successful.”

By announcing the initiative at the TBI Conference, IRONMAN and USA Triathlon reached three key groups of industry stakeholders — coaches/clubs, race directors and retailers/brand manufacturers — with a call-to-action to sign a public pledge at mytimetotri.com and make this an initiative powered by the entire industry.

After signing the pledge, which asks stakeholders to spread the word about Time to Tri with their audiences via email and social media, signees will receive a “playbook” and a collection of branded digital assets to use in promoting the initiative. One of four playbooks will be distributed based on the signee’s affiliation as a race director, coach, club or brand, but each playbook includes sample messaging and strategic ideas for recruiting beginners to triathlon. In a public rollout on Monday, February 5, IRONMAN and USA Triathlon will also equip their respective members and athlete database with the tools to get involved.

The content at mytimetotri.com is inspired by qualitative and quantitative research that addresses key barriers to entry, such as swimming ability and open water swimming experience, triathlon knowledge, and the perception of a financial barrier.

The site will also offer editorial content as well as free, customized sprint-distance training plans to athletes who sign up with their email address. Each plan’s workouts are developed by USA Triathlon Certified and IRONMAN U® Certified Coaches and are based on the athlete’s self-selected skill level in the swim, bike and run.

In addition to launching the digital platform at mytimetotri.com, IRONMAN and USA Triathlon will engage in proactive outreach to identify new and aspiring triathletes. The running community is a primary target audience, and Time to Tri will have a presence at running race expos across the country in order to reach those athletes.

Time to Tri will also promote pool and indoor triathlons as a non-intimidating first triathlon experience — directly addressing the fear of open water swimming as a barrier to entry — as well as short-course (sprint- and Olympic-distance) racing, relays and beginner waves.

Building on the success of IRONMAN’s Women For Tri® initiative, Time to Tri will join forces with Women For Tri to increase the percentage of women triathletes (currently, that number is 39 percent) by driving the creation of women’s-only events and clinics while further supporting the Women For Tri online community.

Other outreach opportunities include partnering with the USA Triathlon Youth Splash & Dash Aquathlon Series, youth triathlon clubs and summer camps to recruit more young people to the sport; reaching new audiences on social media during the second annual National Triathlon Week this July; and enlisting the help of 44 of the nation’s top amateur triathletes through the USA Triathlon Ambassador Program.

To learn more about Time to Tri, and to sign a pledge to help grow the sport of triathlon in your community, visit www.mytimetotri.com. For a list of sanctioned triathlon events taking place in 2018, visit usatriathlon.org.

303Radio – Interview with Rocky Harris, CEO of USA Triathlon

303Radio interviewed Rocky Harris who was named CEO of USA Triathlon in August of this year. Since then Rocky has been working on a strategic plan, meeting with many constituents to bring some new perspectives to the governing body of Triathlon in the United States. One of his major objectives is simply increasing participation by embracing all distances and disciplines and growing the sport across all communities.

Rocky has spent much of his career in team sports ranging from Communications director for the Houston Texans to a member of the Super Bowl XXXVIII host committee and Director of Sports and Marketing for Reliant Energy. He most recently work for Arizona State University as Chief Operating Officer with direct oversight of Sun Devil Athletics. Here he was a key proponent in helping ASU become the first NCAA Power Five conference school to adopt triathlon.

Listen in to his great energy and personal passion for the sport of triathlon.

*we apologize for some unforeseen background noise that can be a bit distracting here and there, but still worth a listen!

Rocky Harris Named USA Triathlon Chief Executive Officer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Rocky Harris, a multifaceted professional sports executive and collegiate athletics administrator, today was announced by USA Triathlon President Barry Siff as the new Chief Executive Officer for the National Governing Body.

Harris, who was named to SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” list in April, spent the past five-plus years as an athletics administrator at his alma mater, Arizona State University, and comes to Colorado Springs with two decades of experience across professional and collegiate sports, as well as the corporate sector. An age-group triathlete, Harris has been instrumental in helping grow triathlon at the collegiate level and has been recognized for developing and implementing innovative initiatives throughout his career.

“The USA Triathlon Board of Directors is unanimously enthusiastic about welcoming Rocky to help lead our sport forward here in the U.S. and on the international stage,” said Siff. “Rocky brings 20 years of demonstrated leadership in key areas consistent with our new strategic plan: building collaborative partnerships, listening and working closely with key constituents and stakeholders, and being an inspiring leader of people. His passion for triathlon is extremely high, and we are confident he can help grow our sport in an effort to make a healthier America.”

“I want to thank Barry, the USA Triathlon Board of Directors and members of the hiring committee for the opportunity to work with a sport I’m truly passionate about and to serve the triathlon community,” Harris said. “I look forward to furthering a culture of excellence at USA Triathlon and working alongside the talented staff already in place who share my belief in triathlon’s special ability to bring people with different backgrounds together from across the world. The chance to take a sport I love and make it accessible to all communities and relevant to all generations, as well as build upon USA Triathlon as an inspirational and innovative brand, will be an exciting and fulfilling challenge. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made at ASU and confident the athletics department is set up for long-term success under Ray Anderson’s leadership.”

Harris and the USA Triathlon Board of Directors have already identified a number of priorities to advance the organization’s strategic plan, including creating collaborative partnerships within the sport and enhancing technology to engage new audiences. Additionally, Harris will look to collaborate with the High Performance department in support of the U.S. National Team, and find ways to increase value for members, coaches, race directors, clubs, elite athletes, volunteers, officials, corporate partners and others touched by the sport.

Harris’ role at ASU evolved throughout his tenure, with his most recent position as Chief Operating Officer, a role that included direct oversight of the strategic planning, implementation, administration and day-to-day operations of Sun Devil Athletics.

“Simply put, Rocky is not only one of the best administrators I have worked with in my career, but he is also one of the most well-rounded individuals I know,” ASU Athletics Director Ray Anderson said. “He is passionate, genuine, dynamic and strategic, and his unique skill set and perspective will undoubtedly help him flourish in this new role.”

READ MORE AT USA TRIATHLON