Roden (left) with her daughter, Abby.
GOLD COAST, Australia — The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has awarded the United States’ Theresa Roden, founder of the nonprofit i-tri: Transformation Through Triathlon based in East Hampton, New York, with the ITU Women’s Committee Award of Excellence. Roden was honored at the ITU Congress in Gold Coast, Australia, ahead of the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final being held here this week.
The annual award recognizes the achievements of a person or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the participation of women in triathlon or paratriathlon. That may be through the training of athletes, raising of awareness, administrative support or as a role model and source of inspiration for women and girls in the sport.
Roden was chosen for the award by a selection committee comprising three members of the ITU Women’s Committee and two independent experts in the field of women in sport. She is the first American to be honored since Celeste Callahan, former member of USA Triathlon Board of Directors, received the inaugural award in 2012. To view the complete list of past recipients, click here.
“We are delighted with this Award to Theresa, who has been a role model and an inspiration to numerous women to not only engage with newcomers to our sport, but also to be able to ensure that our reach goes to young women to all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said Tomoko Wada, Chair of the ITU Women’s Committee.
“On behalf of USA Triathlon and the ITU, I am proud to celebrate Theresa Roden and the incredible impact she has made through i-tri,” said Barry Siff, president of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors and member of the ITU Executive Board. “Not only has Theresa’s transformational program introduced hundreds of girls to multisport at the grassroots level, but her concept is expandable as a model for similar programs nationwide.”
Inspired by her own transformative experience of completing a triathlon, Roden founded i-tri in 2010 when her daughter Abby was entering middle school. The program focuses on self-esteem, confidence-building and healthy habits for adolescent girls. I-tri began in the East Hamptons area, where more than 50 percent of students consider themselves a minority and schools serve free or reduced-priced lunches to approximately 40 percent of students. Today, the program serves 130 girls and their families in six Long Island school districts.
“Receiving the ITU Women's Committee Award of Excellence means the world to us — not just for me, but for all our staff, volunteers, board members and of course our girls,” Roden said. “As we embark on a plan to bring i-tri national, and eventually international, you remind all of us that the next step on this journey is not always the easy step, but it is one that is worthwhile. I have always said that i-tri must be available to every girl who can benefit from it. That is why we charge nothing and give every girl all their equipment and training for free. It is why we continue to grow, and it is why we never turn away a single girl.”
I-tri operates a six-month program for middle school-aged girls, starting in January and culminating in the Hamptons Youth Triathlon (300-yard swim, 7-mile bike and 1.5-mile run) in July. The program includes weekly group lessons focused on self-esteem, empowerment and leadership skills, as well as hands-on nutrition education offered to both participants and their families. I-tri participants also take part in weekly after-school fitness activities, and they complete their triathlon-specific training on Saturdays at the local YMCA.
The program is accessible to girls of all socioeconomic and social backgrounds. Participation is free of charge, and includes a swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, race uniform, helmet and bike. Families are only asked to pay the $40 race registration fee for the Hamptons Youth Triathlon at the start of the program to signify their commitment to their child’s personal goal.
Since i-tri’s inception, it has been recognized by local and national educators, administrators and social service agencies as a prevention system that achieves marked changes in mental and physical health. The program was named to the 2017 Beyond Sport Global Awards shortlist, was a finalist for the Ascena Foundation’s 2016 Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards, was nominated by former Congressman Timothy Bishop to First Lady Michelle Obama for consideration in the national “Let’s Move” initiative, and is a grant recipient of the USA Triathlon Foundation.
For more information about Roden and i-tri, visit itrigirls.org.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).