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USA Triathlon Recognized Among Aspen Institute's 2020 Project Play Champions Cohort

By USA Triathlon | June 30, 2020, 4:17 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon was today honored by the Aspen Institute as a 2020 Project Play Champion in recognition of the organization’s innovative approach to engaging youth in the multisport lifestyle. The Aspen Institute honors a select number of national organizations annually who are taking new, meaningful and specific actions consistent with Project Play’s strategies for youth sports.

Launched in 2013, the Aspen Institute’s Project Play develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps build healthy communities through sports. Project Play works with leading organizations to develop and share best practices and solutions to foster quality sports activity for all youth, regardless of zip code or ability. 

Project Play Champions are recognized each year at the Project Play Summit, the nation’s premier annual gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sport and health. The 2020 summit is currently scheduled to take place this fall in Washington, D.C.

“USA Triathlon is proud to be recognized as a Project Play Champion among this group of innovative organizations who are reimagining youth sports in the United States,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “As triathlon’s National Governing Body, we are constantly learning new ways to create positive, healthy and sustained multisport experiences for our nation’s youth. Triathlon is truly a sport for life, and we can foster a lifelong love for sport by implementing Project Play’s research-driven strategies.”

Much of USA Triathlon’s approach to youth programming in 2020 has been based on Project Play’s “8 Plays,” a series of actions that organizations and stakeholders can take to help every child become physically active through sports. 

USA Triathlon announced key changes to its Youth & Junior Nationals, which were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but are scheduled to return to West Chester, Ohio, next August. The remodeled event will support the principles of the American Development Model (ADM), a concerted effort by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and its sport National Governing Bodies to create positive experiences for youth athletes across all sports by promoting sustained sport participation. Key changes included the removal of the word “Championships” from the event name; an increased focus on personal goal setting over competitive results for younger age groups; and an expanded age range for the Youth Age Group division, which is participatory and does not require qualification. 

In a collaborative partnership with USA Swimming, USA Triathlon also launched “Swim to Tri,” an initiative that provides USA Swimming clubs with complimentary multisport-focused curriculum to introduce youth swimmers to the sport of triathlon. 

“USA Triathlon has been a leader in finding innovative ways to encourage sport sampling in kids, particularly through their Swim to Tri program,” said Tom Farrey, Executive Director of the Sports & Society Program at The Aspen Institute. “We’re proud to highlight them as a 2020 Project Play Champion and look forward to developing further mechanisms to help kids engage in multisport play.”

Also, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USA Triathlon created a #KidsTriAtHome program that included an at-home youth multisport activity calendar developed by USA Triathlon Youth Certified Coaches, as well as a video library that captured examples of youth multisport athletes trying these activities with their parents at home.  

These efforts will build on a 2019 youth scholarship program aimed at growing participation and reducing barriers to entry for underserved youth in multisport, as well as an increased organizational focus on creating tools and resources to encourage sport sampling.

To learn more about USA Triathlon’s youth programming, visit usatriathlon.org/youth. For more information about Project Play and to view the complete list of 2020 Project Play Champions, visit aspenprojectplay.org.

About Project Play
An initiative of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Project Play develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports. For more information, visit aspenprojectplay.org.

About The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.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 at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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 & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).