Over the course of my participation in N.C. State University’s triathlon club, I have experienced many shifts in how the team acts as a whole. Coming in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed my freshman year having absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, witnessing a whole pack of athletes that were way better than I was, is still one of my most intimidating memories. As my tenure as a teammate progressed, I was able to see that not only are there athletes just like me that decided triathlon would be a fun sport to participate in during college, but there were also athletes that were hungry for the gold. It amazed me, and still does, to see these athletes could all train together and connect on so many levels yet have such different end goals. It was this realization that led me to see that triathlon is a perfect college sport.
When school really gets me down — as a mechanical engineer, this happens more often than I’d like to admit — I go out on a run or get some friends together and ride. Whether you relieve stress alone or with friends, tri makes every option available. On that note, since triathlon is such an individual sport, it makes a great team atmosphere. I find comfort in the fact that I am racing against myself amongst a group of my friends. In triathlon, everyone is rooting for you. Every teammate you have only wants to see you improve, whether it is by showing up to every practice ready for a killer workout or by beating your previous time at the next race.
As a college athlete that balances work, school and sometimes a social life, I understand better than anyone that it is hard to commit to training three different sports while still keeping your head above water. Fun fact: I swam my entire first 1500m swim with my head completely above water. Nobody expects you to crush it all the time. Tri is very much a “go at your own pace” type of sport, which is beneficial to athletes with too much on their plate.
This year, as president of the N.C. State Triathlon Club, it has taken a lot of time for me to fully understand that everyone is different. Like my intimidating freshman experience, there are some athletes on our team that I know will show up to every practice and place high at every race, but there are also athletes that have just started swimming this semester. It is my hope that the new members of the team this year have found a home with our club like I have during my college career. I have tried my best to keep the atmosphere fluid. Whether you want a competitive team or a fun-loving team, we have both. Triathlon club for me has created an atmosphere that makes me excited to come to practice and encourage my teammates to keep on pushing.
I almost walked away from the club my freshman year. Luckily, the president at the time was so welcoming and didn’t judge me for having swimming abilities parallel to a newborn baby’s walking abilities. I started competing with this team as a student looking for a good way to keep off the Freshman Fifteen with nothing but fun in mind. As my time progressed, I found the competitive drive within me that made me want to challenge myself and consistently improve. At any point during my time with the club, my training needs have been met.
I hope that our new athletes preparing for their first collegiate nationals are excited as I was when we flew out to Tempe in 2014. Whether they are going for the experience or to kick butt and take names, I hope that our club has provided them with the environment they were looking for. As I get ready for my last nationals experience, I hope to encourage at least one more athlete to join a triathlon club. It is the best decision I’ve made during my college career, and I hope it is a decision others will benefit from, no matter what their athletic goals may be.
Julie Falzon, 21, is a senior member and president of the N.C. State Triathlon Club. She has competed in over 15 multisport races in her lifetime and will wrap up her collegiate career at the 2016 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina, April 22-23. It will be her third collegiate nationals.
For more on of the Collegiate Club National Championships, such as a live blog, social story and other features and news, visit the 2016 coverage page.