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Women Leaders

By USA Triathlon Womens Committee | May 09, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

This past year Coach Vicki Vandergriend (USA Triathlon Midwest Region) received a Women's Committee scholarship for the USA Triathlon Leadership Webinar Series. This popular series covered themes of character development, teamwork, communication and team culture. Below she shares some of her takeaways from the experience.

My philosophy is that coaching is an honor and I like to focus on athletes interested in training smarter, not just harder. The USAT Leadership Webinar Series gave me a deep understanding of the needs of athletes beyond swimming, biking and running. It also provided some business ideas as well as motivational activities.

I have my master's degree in Education and recently took six hours of graduate classes to retain my teaching certification. One of those classes was on motivating and inspiring and I found myself referencing some of the lessons I learned in this series.

One webinar in particular that made an impact on my work was Holly Moore’s “Fostering a Leadership Development Culture.” Moore shared practices to build a healthy leadership plus development culture and model values for teams to follow. I found creative ways to implement those objectives into my coaching service. As a coach, you really need to know each triathlete whether they are a beginner or experienced as an individual first so you can work together to bring out all of their potential. So much of this sport is mental.

If I were to give advice to women in our sport who wanted to grow as leaders and give back, there are opportunities in addition to participating and coaching. I am also a USAT official and I’ve gained a lot of skills through this experience. I work with all aspects of race management from race directors and the motorcycle drivers to explaining the rules to participants on race morning. It’s a cool way to be involved in the sport.

As industry leaders it is critical to continue to learn, observe others and form connections with other industry leaders. This will enhance our ability to serve and encourage athletes of all abilities to not only train and race safely, but also enjoy this sport we all love.

I want to thank the Women’s Committee for the opportunity to further my education and connect with other women leaders in the sport of triathlon.

Coach Vicki Vandergriend, a three-time Ironman finisher, has six children who range in age from 2nd grade to a sophomore in college. Vandergriend serves on the board of directors for Team Nebraska Triathlon and is a full-time coach for In addition, she is a certified USAT coach (Level I), USAC coach (Level 3), USAT official, and Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s (FCA) Endurance member and huddle leader.