Arizona coach Ron Arroyo tells Azcentral.com that youth interest in the sport of triathlon will be crucial to the sport’s success at the collegiate level.
With more than 1,200 college triathletes from 119 clubs competing in Tempe back on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, for the 2014 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship at Town Lake, the future of the sport’s NCAA status is a hot topic.
Ryan Riell, team director of Arizona’s only USA Triathlon Youth and Junior High Performance Team, BreakThrough Multisport, expects youth and junior interest to grow immediately as a result of the NCAA in January approving triathlon as an “emerging sport” for women. Men’s triathlon did not come up for discussion this year.
“Schools can add triathlon as a sport to their athletic programs and eventually, if 40 teams are added by universities, it can become a scholarship sport,” said Lindsay Wyskowski, USA Triathlon’s Communications Manager.
Arizona State club triathlon coach Ron Arroyo says he is sure that women’s triathlon will gain the required status for scholarships, but he isn’t sure that men’s will follow.
“I just don’t see it taking the next step, and not for any good reason. We’ll see what happens,” Arroyo said.
Riell says that coaches and athletes normally are introduced to triathlons later in life than in mainstream sports like football, basketball or soccer, and are attracted only after participating in running, swimming or cycling programs. The expense of traveling and equipment makes triathlons expensive for youth starting out in the sport, too.
That youth connection is the key to the sport’s future, according to Riell.
“If a youth and junior pipeline cannot be successfully established, the collegiate sport will die due to lack of competitive balance,” Riell said. “Looking at the junior athletes that are now in college or racing as professionals, the majority of them came from a High Performance Team. The growth and development of youth and junior athletes is essential to the collegiate sport being a success.”
Read more: Azcentral.com