Kids love to swim, ride bikes, chase down their friends, so it comes as no surprise that youth athletes (ages 7-15) are the fastest growing demographic in the rapidly developing sport of triathlon. Race directors have seen exponential growth at youth races in the past 3-5 years, and USA Triathlon has responded by pouring resources both into race production and coaching programs specifically for youth athletes.
However, despite the developmental benefits, participation has largely remained at the race level — kids will do a race once or twice a year, but it is only rarely that families take the next step to join a team and make triathlon a part of their child’s everyday life.
Coach Boris Robinson of Round Rock, Texas, hopes to change this. In 2012, Robinson introduced the concept of Lonestar Youth Triathlon Environment (LYTE) to five Texas youth triathlon coaches throughout the state as a solution to the solitary youth triathlete. LYTE will be the first organized league for youth triathlon teams in the state of Texas, and will be structured similarly to existing swim and cross country teams. Athletes will still race as individuals at LYTE events, but the highest placing athletes will score points for their team and themselves.
The beauty of the LYTE model is that it gives kids the chance to still compete as individuals, while gaining the benefits of competent coaching and team participation.
“A lot of kids on soccer teams sit and watch for the most part,” Robinson says. “With triathlon there’s both — it’s an individual event to compete in, but there’s also the team concept.”
The hope is that LYTE will provide a structure that is familiar to both parents and athletes, allowing for both the greater development of Texas youth triathlon teams and, more importantly, of the Texas youth triathlete. All LYTE member teams are coached by USA Triathlon certified coaches, and are official USAT clubs. LYTE events will complement the existing USAT South Midwest Regional Youth Series.
Initial member teams are: T3 Multisports Youth Academy (Round Rock, Texas), Team Playtri (Dallas, Texas), Tri4Him (Grapevine, Texas), Trinity Multisport (College Station, Texas), Tri SBR Kids (Victoria, Texas).