Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle! 

The Club Chronicle Interview #16: NU Triathlon 

Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and your positions in this organization? 

Erica: I’m Erica Traini, I’m a 5th year mechanical engineering major. I’m the Director of New Member Recruitment and Retention. 

Morgan: My name is Morgan Pfaff, I’m a biochemistry major, I’m a 4th year and current team Captain/President.

Can you tell me a bit about NU Triathlon? 

Morgan: Triathlon is a club level sport at Northeastern consisting of swim, bike, and run in that order. Our team consists of athletes of all levels. We have complete newbies who have never done a race or been in a pool in their life, and we have seasoned athletes with their own coaches. We really have a variety of athletes on our team. We want to foster a supportive environment for people of all levels where we are supporting newbies and pushing more advanced athletes.

Erica: As far as how we operate as a club, it’s super informal compared to some clubs sports, which makes it fun. We have daily practices, but there’s no commitment to go to all of them. We try to include as many people we can for races. We help members get the gear they need, since it can be expensive, and we often share gear. We get together and work out and do fun events together.

Morgan: We do a lot of social events and we’re trying to make it a more social club outside of practice. If you’re just training with people it can be hard to form friendships. We also do seasonal events, like Tri giving, where we have a potluck around Thanksgiving.

Erica: It’s like a family event!

Morgan: Yeah, its pseudo Thanksgiving with family away from family. The biggest point we try to emphasize is that you get out of it what you put into it. Not everyone who joins will be super competitive or even race at the end of training season. A lot of people do it to stay in shape,  which is why I joined initially, but then I fell in love with the sport itself and racing. We encourage all levels of athletes to join, whether or not they’ve done any of the sports before. 

What does your sports season look like?

Erica: Our official collegiate race season is August, September, and sometimes October. There’s 6 New England collegiate triathlon club conference official races that we can get points for in our conference. In April of every year there’s some sort of nationals. Last year it was in Arizona. 

Morgan: Every 2 years they switch between Arizona and Alabama. 

Erica: Nationals is when we compete country-wide. We practice all year round and have more regular practices in fall and spring. Then, in the summer, we get together and practice informally. We also do some summer races that aren’t part of our conference, like the Boston Triathlon, for example. That’s a fun one we do together as a team to get ready. Because race season is right before and at the very beginning of fall semester sometimes freshman have a don’t get a chance to race in season with us their first year. It’s unfortunate but it’s really just based off water temperature and when it makes sense to race. We try to do some sort of 5k or duathlon at some point during fall and spring to keep people racing even if they don’t get to do a full triathlon. 

Morgan: It does make it hard to train – the running joke within New England triathlon is that you train all summer in extreme heat for races in the cold, and then you train all winter in the cold for a race in the heat. New England triathlon clubs get the short end of the stick a little bit, especially when go South to compete with California and Colorado teams who can train all year round outside. But a lot of us just do it for fun and community. Racing just inherently creates community, there’s nothing like achieving goals together. 

Members of the team getting ready for a long ride during this year’s training trip to Lake George; Summer 2019.

How can freshman get involved with a season that starts so early in the Fall semester? 

Erica: We try to get people involved as quick as we can in terms of getting them practicing and used to the practice format. We teach how you swim in a pool with other people, and when we spin we tell people “here’s how we set up the bikes,” things like that. We try to take freshman to those races in the fall if we have room in the van so they can see the races. Nothing is like going to a race and feeling like “wow, I want to do that”. It really pumps you up. That’s how we try to get people involved real quick. And also as I said we incorporate some sort of non triathlon races throughout the year. 

Morgan: Everyone is super friendly on the team and we’re always looking for new members and for people passionate about exercising and being healthy. Not only freshman, but upperclassmen can get involved just by practicing with us. A huge chunk of what the team does is just practice together.

So there are no try-outs? 

Morgan: Every Northeastern student, grad or undergrad, is welcome and encouraged to join the team. It’s a super supportive environment we have competitive and non-competitive members. We typically just encourage you to compete against yourself, like how much better can you do against yourself, versus trying to compete with others on the team. 

Erica: We usually have enough resources to get people involved in the events they want to do, so we don’t hold try-outs. If there’s a race during the season, if they really want to go, we’re usually able to find van space and the money to get them there. 

How do you fundraise to get that money? 

Morgan: We get funds in many different ways. Members pay dues. I can’t say exactly how much because they sometimes fluctuate based on expenses for that year. But compared to greek life and a lot of other club sports, it’s significantly lower, which helps a larger variety of people to join because it’s more accessible. In addition to dues, which is a great way to fund transportation and hotels, we get a lot of funding from club sports, which we’re very lucky to get, and we fundraise. We also volunteer at races, which is super fun and a great way to raise money for the team. It’s fun team bonding and you learn how races work first hand and pay it forward. When you’re racing, there’s always volunteers there to hand you water when you’re dying in the sun, to cheer you on, to guide you. We get to pay it forward to other athletes which is great.

Meeting dogs after the Lake George Olympic Triathlon; Fall 2018.

What is your practice schedule this Fall?

Morgan: 

Mon: Swim 7:30 – 9PM, Cabot

Tues: Spin 7-9 AM/PM, SquashBusters. Run 7 AM/PM, outside SquashBusters 

(run in the morning and spin at night, or vice versa)

Wed: Swim, 7:30-9PM, Cabot

Thurs: Spin 7-9 AM/PM, SquashBusters. Run 7 AM/PM, outside SquashBusters

(run in the morning and spin at night, or vice versa)

Sat: Spin 1-2:30 PM, Revolutionz. Run 2:30 PM, outside Marino.

Sun: Run 10-11:30 AM, outside SquashBusters. Swim 4-6PM, Cabot 

What events do you have coming up this year? 

Erica: We got this idea from BU, they do what’s called a try-a-tri, we always go and it’s a lot of fun. It’s basically an indoor triathlon where you do relatively short distances of each sport. It’s 4 laps in the pool, which is a 200 yard swim, then you bike on a stationary bike, then you run around the track for a mile. It’s supposed to be for people who’ve never done it or just a fun event for people who have done it before just to compete against friends and team members. It’s meant to give you a taste of transitioning between three sports right after the other to see if you like it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Based on what I saw at BU there were a few people who didn’t really know how to swim yet, and you’re able to muscle through that distance. I think it’s a really good way to get people over the scare factor of doing this. A sprint triathlon, which is the shortest distance that we do, is still more than most people would instantly assume they could just do right away. So this is a good way to get people involved right away. It’s kind of a baby step before sprint triathlon. This event is going to take place sometime in the spring – we will be sending out more information as we get closer!

Morgan: We’ve never done an event like this before. The first race I ever did was BU’s try-a-tri. It was super scary going in but then I did it and I was like, “oh that’s not so bad.” It got me over the fear of doing three sports at once: it’s really not bad, and you just have to practice. 

Where can students keep up with you on social media? 

Morgan: Our Instagram is nutriathlon. We do have a website too: nutriathlonteam.wixsite.com/nutriathlon. 

Erica: Our Facebook is Northeastern University Triathlon Team. 

How many people would you say are involved?

Morgan: 35-40, it fluctuates. There’s a different number of people who come to practice versus who race versus who come to team meeting versus who come to social events. You’ll see people at social events who barely come to practice and you’ll see people racing who you never see at social events, so people are in it for different reasons. It’s hard to say we have a clear cut number of members.

Post-race smiles at Buzzards Bay Sprint Triathlon in Wesport, MA; Summer 2019.

What is your favorite part about being a part of this team

Erica: I would definitely say the community and social aspect of it. There’s two sides to this I guess. I hate working out on my own, I won’t do it. I like having teammates to go on a run with. I definitely feel like triathlon and the people who are part of it are people I get along really well with. I haven’t encountered anyone on the team I don’t feel like I’m friends with, it’s very natural. It’s great having a supportive community for races and having people encourage you to reach your goals and you encourage them – just that community triathlon provides. I love that. 

Morgan: I definitely met all of my friends on the team my freshman year, three years ago. They’re still some of my best friends. Definitely the community has been my number one thing. But also finding a passion in something I didn’t think to look for. I’ve never been an athletic person in high school or before. I never really worked out at all. I just thought triathlon sounded super cool and interesting and the people on the team were super accepting and nice. They helped me get through some parts of college that were really hard as a freshman and beyond. They still help me every day, I go to my friends and teammates for whatever problems I’m having. The community is unlike anything else I’ve found on campus. Also just being able to work out with like minded people who encourage me to stay in shape when I don’t want to. 

What’s one thing you wished people knew about triathlon?

Morgan: I wish people knew it’s not as hard as it sounds. I think people are so scared of triathlon and think it’s this impossible crazy sport for super athletes who don’t think 1 sport is enough, but honestly, I think the 3 sports keep me from getting bored of any one. It gives me a dynamic type of workout and it’s not as hard as it sounds. To master triathlon you just need to practice. It’s not scary! 

Erica: I find that talking to some of the freshmen at fairs they say “oh, I’m a runner but don’t know the other sports”. The point is not to become an expert in everything. It’s about moderately chipping away at each sport, picking one to focus on at a time and making improvements in the overall combination over time. You don’t even have to know any of the sports to start with! We teach people how to swim, bike, and run. I wish people knew that you don’t need to know how to do all three, we will guide you.

Morgan: The team is a great way to learn new skills; not just swim, bike, run. It’s staying in shape and eating healthy and teamwork and grit, honestly. It takes a lot for somebody to endure a triathlon, not in a scary way, but it takes endurance and grit to train for a triathlon and do it. I think that’s an awesome life skill to have that translates over to other things.