Calvin College has announced the addition of women's triathlon as an NCAA varsity sport beginning in the 2019-20 season, becoming the first school in the state of Michigan to offer the sport at the varsity level.
Calvin will use the upcoming 2018-19 academic year to implement a head coach and build the foundation for the first year of varsity competition. Women's triathlon is a fall sport that begins in early September and concludes with the Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship in early November.
The addition of women's triathlon as Calvin's 22nd varsity sport was made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation, which will fund the operating expenses of the program for its first three years. This grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement, grow and sustain women's triathlon programs at the NCAA varsity level.
"I am very pleased to announce that Calvin will be adding women's triathlon as a varsity sport," said Dr. Jim Timmer, Director of Athletics at Calvin. "Triathlon is an exciting sport that has enjoyed popularity not only in West Michigan but throughout our country. I am also grateful to USA Triathlon for providing the resources to make this new opportunity available for female student-athletes at our college."
Calvin Senior Associate Director of Athletics Dr. Nancy Meyer is also thrilled with the addition of women's triathlon to Calvin's varsity athletics offerings. "It's a wonderful new opportunity for women and one that I fully embrace," said Meyer. "We have excellent training facilities for triathletes and a college that offers a world-class Christian education. That makes for a strong combination in adding a new varsity sport. I look forward to seeing what triathletes can accomplish representing our institution as this sport continues to grow. We are also highly appreciative of the support USA Triathlon has provided to make this opportunity a reality."
"USA Triathlon is proud to welcome the newest addition to the women's NCAA triathlon family in the Calvin College Knights," said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. "The athletic and institutional leadership at Calvin have worked closely with USA Triathlon to plan for a triathlon program that will be both successful in competition and sustainable as a varsity sport. We look forward to seeing the Knights on the race course starting in 2019."
The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014. This designation gives programs a 10-year window to show sustainability as an NCAA sport. Each event, including three Regional Qualifiers and the National Championship, is comprised of sprint-distance races, featuring a 750-meter open water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and a 5-kilometer run.
According to Timmer and Meyer, Calvin will hire a part-time head coach to lead the women's triathlon program.
A national search for a head coach will begin immediately.