The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has announced USA Triathlon’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Engagement Program as the recipient of its annual Diversity & Inclusion Choice Award.
Now in its sixth year, the D&I Choice Award recognizes a National Governing Body (NGB) or High Performance Management Organization (HPMO) for the creation of a single diversity and inclusion best practice or a series of diversity and inclusion best practices.
After an internal USOPC selection committee narrows down the submissions, finalists are put to a vote of representatives from NGBs and HPMOs across the US Olympic and Paralympic Movement.
A USA Triathlon program received the highest number of votes for the second consecutive year, and the organization will be honoured at a celebratory dinner on Friday, September 13, as part of the 2019 US Olympic & Paralympic Assembly in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Engagement Program is intended to provide a pathway to the sport of triathlon in an underrepresented population. It aims to lower the barriers to entry for people of colour to participate in the sport by providing access, education, resources and opportunities through partnerships with these institutions.
The program will ensure HBCUs have funding and other resources needed to start and sustain NCAA Emerging Sport for Women varsity triathlon programs and/or collegiate club programs.
The USA Triathlon Foundation awarded its first program grant of US$225,000 to Hampton University in October 2018, with the funds to be distributed over the next five years to support travel, equipment, coaching, scholarships and other expenses related to building a sustainable varsity program. Hampton University is introducing women’s triathlon as a varsity sport this autumn/fall.
Additional initiatives as part of the HBCU Engagement Program include:
- A dedicated internship network to connect HBCU students to career opportunities within the sport and the Olympic & Paralympic industry;
- A campus representative program to put boots on the ground at HBCUs across the US to further awareness of multisport on campuses through indoor triathlons, athlete panels, or Triathlon 101 sessions; and
- The HBCU Indoor Triathlon Series, an extension of the USATri60 Indoor Triathlon program, which features a 10-minute pool swim, 30-minute stationary bike ride and 20-minute treadmill run to eliminate common barriers of entry to the sport and enable anyone to become a triathlete in 60 minutes.
“Growth of our sport is achievable through our vision of providing resources to empower members of the triathlon community to reach their full potential, including individuals who have not yet been introduced to the sport,” said USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris.
“USA Triathlon’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Engagement Program reflects our commitment to developing programming that introduces the sport to all Americans and allows us to develop new relationships and partnerships with some of our nation’s most prestigious institutions who will welcome us to their campuses in the years to come.”
USA Triathlon has been honoured by the USOPC for its diversity and inclusion efforts annually since 2017. As the recipient of the 2017 Advancing D&I Award, USA Triathlon was recognized as the NGB or HPMO with the highest annual growth percentage of underrepresented individuals based on diversity data for women and ethnic and racial minorities.
The Paratriathlon Military Engagement Program received the D&I Choice Award in 2018, as the USOPC community celebrated USA Triathlon’s efforts to introduce injured veterans to the sport of paratriathlon as an avenue for a healthy and active lifestyle.
The Friday awards gala is the final event of the US Olympic & Paralympic Assembly, which begins on Wednesday, September 11 at The Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs. The dinner will feature Jill Ellis, Head Coach of the US women’s national soccer team as the keynote speaker, and will honour winners of the Olympic Torch Award, Jack Kelly Fair Play Award and Rings of Gold recipients in addition to the Diversity & Inclusion Award honours.