The following post is a feature from Hannah Feinberg, a YoungTri ambassador who is a freshman on the UVM triathlon team. Read her post on YT from last week (about the importance of triathlon’s NCAA initiative) here.
About a year ago I was an anxious high school senior attending Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York. As with any senior, I was freaking out about where to go to college and wanted nothing less than to graduate and move on with my life.
It wasn’t until I toured the University of Vermont (UVM) in mid April that I decided I would attend UVM. (The college decision deadlines were due May 1… talk about procrastination!) My tour guide was tall, athletic looking, and had long blonde hair up in a ponytail. When she introduced herself she said that she was a senior, the President of the UVM Triathlon Club, and a member of the UVM Ski and Snowboard Club. At that moment, my mom and I looked at each other and were both like “OMG that is me…” Up until that very moment I was about 95% positive I was going to be a Division 1 alpine ski racer in college. But because my tour guide was who it was, I made the best decision I could have ever made, opted against skiing D1, and sent my deposit to UVM to pursue triathlon and a major of Dietetics, Nutrition, and Food Science.
I always used triathlon as cross training for skiing. Don’t ask me why — the two sports are COMPLETELY different. I loved both sports equally and couldn’t give one of them up, so I pursued both of them throughout high school. I’ve competed internationally in skiing and have finished many sprint tris, Olympic tris, one 70.3, and during senior year I completed the 2013 Ironman Lake Placid! For this reason, I was known as “Slowtwitch” on the ski team. Despite living in Lake Placid I didn’t know ANY other triathletes my age (until I met Caity this summer and was introduced to YoungTri!) so I was doing most of my training and racing alone. This is why when I found out UVM had a triathlon team, I just couldn’t turn down the offer.
The very first day of freshman year, I joined the UVM Triathlon Club and made some of my first (and now some of my best) friends at UVM. We had our first group practice, which was a 5K run. I began running with a junior from Denver, Colorado whose name was Riley. After talking a little bit, we realized that I had met Riley’s mom during Race Across America and didn’t even know it! It turned out I raced Ironman Lake Placid with the father of one of the girls named Hannah. Another even more surprising connection was when my ski coach from Whiteface transferred to Vail, he coached the team President, Abby! 20 minutes prior I didn’t know a single person on that run, but after those 3 miles I had developed all of these connections to my teammates and it was great! The world is small; it is even smaller in our endurance world…
Our club is Co-ed and we compete in the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference (NECTC) (Harvard and West Point, among others, are in this conference also). This consisted of 6 races in Lakeville, MA; Lake George, NY; Freeport, ME; Lebanon, NJ; Buzzard’s Bay, MA; and Rye, NY all of which were either a sprint or Olympic distance.
During the fall, we biked around the outskirts of Burlington and took in the beautiful fall foliage of the mountains; we swam in the crystal clear water of Lake Champlain (minutes from campus); and we ran throughout campus and all over Burlington. Due to the diversity of our team, these excursions were typically done in smaller groups of 2-5 people of the same ability level. We have members on our team that have won world championships in Duathlon, completed Ironmans, were Division 1 swimmers, are experienced and very fast age groupers at the shorter distances, and many first time triathletes. We welcome people of all ability levels! Now that it is winter and we are basically forced inside to workout, we have group pool workouts, trainer rides, and strength workouts. These are great because it doesn’t matter your ability level, they give you somebody that will push you, and it gives you a friend to workout with!
Since we are a club sport the school provides minimal funding. With this said, we have many fundraisers throughout the year. In the fall we took part in in the 2014 UVM Student Prudent Naked Calendar. Select club sport receive a month and your team poses naked with props related to your sport. Talk about team building, ha! Right now we are planning for our 24 Hour Bike Ride. This is a fundraiser we do downtown on Church Street; half of the money goes to the club and half goes to the charity of our choice (to be decided). During the 24 hour bike ride we set up our bikes on trainers in the middle of church street, in the freezing cold, and bike for 24 hours straight!
This is the first time I’ve had people to share my passion for triathlon with on a daily basis as a part of a team. It is great to be able to call up a buddy and ask them to go for a long swim, bike, or run and not have them respond saying “Hannah, you are insane. NO!” As with any sport, being on a team is a great feeling and I didn’t know you could experience that feeling in triathlon until I came to UVM.
If you are in high school and are considering taking the next step in your triathlon career, I highly suggest researching schools that compete at the collegiate level! Trust me, it is SO MUCH FUN! If you are a college student, consider joining an already existing team at your school or start your own! (There are plenty of people who can help you do this!)
Have you ever wondered how certain people can make such big impacts on your life? If it weren’t for my UVM tour guide, I would probably be ski racing Division 1 and would not love triathlon as much as I do right now.
Who is someone that has changed the outcome of your life?