USA Triathlon and Transylvania University Athletics have announced Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, as the first school in the state of Kentucky and the 15th school in the United States to add women’s collegiate triathlon as an NCAA varsity sport. The NCAA Division III women’s triathlon team will begin competing in the 2018-19 season.
The addition of women’s triathlon to Transylvania’s varsity sport offerings was made possible through a US$70,000 grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the NCAA varsity level.
Five other Division III schools in the region also sponsor varsity women’s triathlon, including: Centenary College of Louisiana (Shreveport); Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon); Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia; North Central College in Naperville, Illinois; and Trine University in Angola, Indiana.
“With a multitude of existing events and recruitable athletes in the region, as well as its proximity to other varsity women’s triathlon programs, Transylvania University was a perfect fit to add NCAA women’s triathlon,” said Tim Yount, Chief Operating Officer at USA Triathlon. “More importantly, the Transylvania Women’s Triathlon program was made possible by leaders within the athletic department and the school as a whole who believe in the future of this sport at the collegiate level.”
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to start a women’s triathlon team at Transylvania,” said Dr Holly Sheilley, Transylvania Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life. “As we were exploring the possibilities, the support received from local triathletes and USA Triathlon made this an easy decision in the end. Dedication, passion, hard work and the will to win not only describes triathletes, but what we aspire for our students at Transylvania in all their endeavours. We feel this is a perfect fit for our institution and are very thankful to have received the USA Triathlon Foundation grant.”
Transylvania University expects to field an initial roster in 2018-19, with an eventual goal of growing to an approximate team size of 16. With the announcement of the university adding its 27th sponsored varsity sport, Transylvania will begin conducting a search for a women’s triathlon head coach this summer.
As part of the initial process to evaluate the feasibility of fielding Kentucky’s first NCAA women’s triathlon team, Transylvania assembled a committee composed of local figures who have strong ties to the sport.
The committee included Shannon Florea, Transylvania alumna and USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach; Kevin Ryan, USA Triathlon elite athlete and Head Assistant Coach for the Kentucky Aquatics Swimming Team; George VanMeter, member of the Transylvania Board of Trustees, Team USA triathlete and member of the Bluegrass Triathlon Club; Saori Hanoki, Transylvania Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and Team USA triathlete; and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame inductee Susan Bradley-Cox, a 12-time USA Triathlon age group national champion.
Triathlon received overwhelming approval through a voting process in January 2014 at the NCAA Convention in San Diego by Division I, II and III colleges and universities to be included as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, and has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA sport option. Triathlon is an autum/fall sport in the NCAA schedule, with the 2017 Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship set for 5 November in Tempe, Arizona.
For questions regarding varsity collegiate women’s triathlon events and programming, contact Jessica Welk via Jessica.welk[at]usatriathlon.org.