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The Women of the USAT Women's Committee: Taking on Leadership and Sports Projects

By brenda barrera | Feb. 12, 2014, 8:17 a.m. (ET)

Tara Comer (Chair, Northeast Region) is heading into 2014 with the launch of two exciting projects. She continues to cultivate progressive social change in women’s sports, health, and leadership with the launch of womenRYSE. WomenRYSE is an innovative health and fitness company that empowers women through fitness and business. WomenRYSE’s unique model creates sustainable health by training women to become coaches in their communities. The RYSE method incorporates Running, Yoga, Social Connections, and Empowerment Practices. Tara is also the project lead and contributing author for the upcoming book, “The Women’s Guide to Triathlon” (Human Kinetics, 2014), which will highlight triathlon training expertise from today’s most accomplished female coaches and female athletes (including Sarah Haskins, Siri Lindley, and Melissa Mantak). This book collaboration is a great opportunity to call attention to the amazing contributions of women in triathlon and highlight the deep knowledge and expertise women triathletes can share. Tara’s 2014 race schedule includes a couple of Olympic distance events and her first ultra trail race.

Brenda Barrera (Mid-Atlantic Region) celebrated a major event this past year. She got married to Lt. Col. Sean Oatmeyer, U.S. Army (retired) who is also a runner and triathlete. Together they competed in several Mid-Atlantic region triathlons and road races. At age 51, she proudly ran in her first one-mile race and wrote about the experience for Bring Back the Mile website. In October, a highlight was returning to Chicago (where she lived for 25 years) to work for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as host of the main stage at the Health & Fitness Expo where she also gives course talks and on race day she oversees finish line communications. While Brenda continues to give back to the athletic community through her freelance writing, photography, and sports media consulting, her focus for 2014 is writing children’s books geared to girls and sports. Her triathlon goals for the year include competing at the USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, Wis.

Rachel Sears Casanta (Southwest Region) enjoyed 2013 adjusting to life as mom to an active toddler while juggling the demands of operating her company, Hypercat Racing, based in Ventura, Calif. Together with her husband, master bike fitter, Philip Casanta, Rachel helped athletes prepare for their multisport events through coaching, clinics and providing bike tech services at numerous races in California. Rachel also completed her fifth year serving as Administrator for the USAT-SW Region Council working on marketing and communications projects. She also managed and calculated rankings for the USAT-SW Youth & Junior Talent ID Series and the USAT-SW F1 Elite Series among other duties as Administrator. Retired from professional racing, Rachel looks forward to enjoying age group racing this year and the launch of the Hypercat Racing Triathlon Club and Youth & Junior Team.

Ella Haile Dunn (Southeast Region) started a business in 2013, Accelerated Conditioning and Learning, LLC and published a book, “Dynamic Movement Assessment™: Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance.” The book describes the business and promotes a proprietary video-based movement assessment and corrective algorithm she developed with her business partner. Their mission is to prevent athletic injury, rehab more effectively when injury occurs, while simultaneously improving performance. Females are at greater risk for certain injuries and performance limitations caused by poor movement patterns than other populations, which makes Ella’s involvement in the Women’s Committee fit perfectly with her mission. She spent much of this past year recovering from a catastrophic injury sustained in a 2012 boating accident, so her plan for 2014 is to come back to triathlon stronger, faster, and healthier than ever before. 

Lana Fountain (South Midwest Region) returned to the United States in 2013 after an eight-month stint abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is pursuing an MBA with a focus on Global Leadership from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School. Lana’s multisport focus in 2013 was injury-free racing and she made a commitment to daily yoga practice to increase flexibility and to supplement her diet with the right endurance nutrition to boost muscle recovery when conditioning. She topped out the end of the triathlon season participating in a USMS Postal event, and in leading a community effort to establish a Youth Triathlon Training Camp focusing on childhood obesity prevention. She hopes to kick start an inaugural event, "Dessert with The Doctors" for women in the community. This initial effort is to train the adult influencers in these children's lives on the importance of overall health. In 2014 Lana's focus is to overcome her multisport nemesis: running. With plans to start a family this year, she has challenged herself to run a 5K at five months and to participate in an aquathlon/Splash-n-Dash in her third trimester.

Barb Lindquist (Rocky Mountain Region) continues to work for USA Triathlon in the High Performance Department as the Collegiate Recruitment Program Manager. Barb identifies, assesses, and mentors collegiate runners and swimmers who have a background in the other sport to talent ID future Olympians. One of her recruits and first year pro, Katie Hursey, won three triathlons and made the USA Triathlon National Silver Team. Barb also coaches a select number of age group and elites for her own coaching business. This past year Barb was not able to compete in her local triathlon but she did race a local 10K and participated in a Run ‘n Ride for the Cure event where she finished second to a recruit she coaches. She also logged more miles on her bike last summer -- many of which were with her 7-year-old twin boys to town and back, which is about 12 miles. Her goal for 2014 is to compete in her local triathlon.

Melissa Stockwell (Mideast Region) has been an elite Paratriathlete since 2010. After losing her left leg in Iraq in 2004, she started as a swimmer in the 2008 Paralympic games and transitioned into triathlon soon after. She has competed at four world championships, is a three-time world champion and a recent Ironman. Melissa is based out of Chicago and co-founded the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club to get other athletes with physical disabilities into the sport of triathlon. Through coaching, adaptive equipment, clinics, and camps, Dare2tri helps youth, adults and injured members show what they are capable of while inspiring many along the way. Melissa works in the field of prosthetics and helps make the sports specific prosthetic legs that many Paratriathletes wear. She is also a USAT level 1 certified coach, serves on the Mideast Triathlon Council and a proud American. Melissa’s goal for 2014 is to continue to build a successful Dare2tri program both at the grassroots and elite levels. In August, she hopes to compete at her fifth Paratriathlon World Championships in Edmonton, Canada. 

About the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee
The USA Triathlon Women’s Committee is focused on creating a resource for female athletes of all levels and socioeconomic backgrounds by mentoring professional growth for women in the sport of triathlon. The Women’s Committee is concentrating on the quality of training as well as opportunities available for women in positions of authority and decision-making within associations that govern the sport. The WC is a national committee of women from all over the U.S. with a variety of professions and diverse levels of participation in triathlon.

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