Jodelle Migely, Cheryl Zitur, and Tricia Leafblad created the Forte Triathlon Club in Minnesota to empower local youth with the knowledge, skills, and fortitude to train for and finish a triathlon.
“All we ask is that they show up,” said Migely, who is passionate about making kids feel confident, happy, and strong. “And rather than put more pressure on kids we wanted to make it fun, get them excited about exercise, and feeling good about themselves.”
This summer, the club ran a nine-week triathlon training program for youth ages six to fourteen. They met twice a week under the direction of Coach Zitur, a Level 1 Triathlon Coach and certified personal trainer. A typical training session included 20 minutes of swimming, 20 minutes of running, 15 minutes of stretching, and a fun game.
“I’m more into life lessons than what they accomplish in a race,” said Zitur. “I want the kids to know they can do anything they set their minds to.”
Leafblad agrees, adding, “We want the kids to be successful. Sometimes it’s about getting them to run to a tree in the park and sometimes it’s about encouraging them to run for 20 minutes without stopping. The first time I told them that was the plan, they were like deer in the headlights. But I said, ‘Stick with me,’ and we started running and chatting. When we were done, some of them were surprised. And that’s the reward – to see kids accomplish what they thought was impossible.”
Simone Lundquist, one of the younger coaches on Forte’s staff, said she was delighted to work with the kids this summer. “They had a great time learning what a triathlon is, and about sportsmanship, and cheering on their friends, and accomplishing a goal.”
At the end of the summer training the kids participated in a triathlon, and hopefully started a life-long love for sport as well.
“I always wished I had started training for triathlon earlier in life,” said Leafblad. “So, I wanted to start a program that gives kids the skills they need to enjoy this sport. Because triathlon is a lifelong activity. You can swim and ride your bike into old age, but you probably aren’t going to play football in your fifties. Forte is an opportunity for kids to learn to love swimming, biking, and running, not just for now but for the rest of their lives.”
Forte’s mission is in line with the values of the XTERRA Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations that promote the active, outdoors lifestyle.
“We’re delighted to partner with Forte Tri Club,” said XTERRA President, Janet Clark. “Kids are the future of our sport, and the Club is doing a wonderful job getting the kids in their community outside and active.”
Learn more at https://fortetriclub.com.