November 28, 2012 on 9:25 am | In Athlete Profile, Giving Back, Sponsorship | No Comments
We recently partnered with a new charity, Team Ariana, and I was curious about the amazing girl spearheading the foundation. I was able to send her some questions so we could get a better feel for the organization and the girl behind it. To learn more or to give to a great cause, visit the website or Facebook page.
How did you get started in triathlon?
When I was younger (Age 7 in Second Grade), I had tried sports like soccer, basketball and softball. I just could not find the right fit for me. Then, two of my friends’ (boys) dads told my dad about these kid triathlons they were participating in. My dad asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I did and the rest is history. I was hooked! My earlier years were spent learning about all three sports, nutrition, gear and competing in many local and national championship races. Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to start racing in adult triathlons, but only if my dad would do it with me. Now we do them all together! This year I competed in approximately 15 duathlons and triathlons, including two Olympic distance races.
What made you decide to start racing for charity?
As I progressed into the adult triathlons, a lot of attention was being placed on me. I was usually one of the only kids racing and I was beating most of the adults. I decided that I wanted to shift this attention away from me and onto a cause that was more worthwhile. I created Team Ariana last year and kicked it off at the beginning of the 2012 racing season. I united my sponsors and created a web site, a full Team Ariana race wear line with my awesome sponsor Champion System, and provided a way to raise more awareness and badly needed funds for the Vogel Alcove. The story on the Vogel Alcove also goes way back as my younger sister, Gabrielle, deserves all the credit for introducing it to our family. The Vogel Alcove is a special place which gives young homeless children and their parents a start at a second chance in life. They provide schooling and healthcare for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and case management for the parents, which helps them prepare and find work, and ultimately a real place to call home. Twenty one different local homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities, etc. feed into the Vogel Alcove.
We started helping Vogel by donating all our birthday presents to them, creating donation drives and visiting the children to bake cookies, do art projects and play. But that just did not seem like enough. I wanted to do more. Once my sister and I realized that these sweet children don’t even have a bed to call their own, not even their own pillow, I knew I could make a difference. Team Ariana was the answer. When I am racing and pushing as hard as I can, I find a way to push harder knowing I am doing it for these children. I have so much and they have so little. I can endure a few hours of pain for them. This year alone, Team Ariana has raised over $37,000 and we are not slowing down one bit!
Do you participate in other sports outside of swim/bike/run?
Yes, I participate in volleyball at my school!
Have you inspired any friends or family to participate in triathlon?
Definitely! My dad was my number one equipment manager before I started doing adult triathlons. Now, he does all my races with me and even completed his first Ironman this summer! More importantly, I think I have opened up other kid’s eyes to the reality that they, too, can make a difference. I have heard and seen other kids finding a way to give back to their communities by finding something they believe in and going after it. Some do it through triathlons, and others through sports they love. The main thing I want to get across to other kids is that I am proof that one kid CAN make a difference.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
Well, I typically have 3-4 hours of homework every night so a typical training week during the school year is a little different than a training week during the summer. Also, my training changed when I began focusing in Olympic distance tris versus sprints. First off, my coach is awesome. Coach Steen Rose has always made sure that my training is balanced with my other obligations. More importantly, he makes sure I am always having fun. After all, I am still a kid! During the school year, each week I will typically balance 2 runs, 2 swims, 2 bikes, resistance training and yoga. My coach changes up my schedule, but the weekends usually involve longer bricks and more endurance work. We also use Training Peaks which really helps me in my weekly and monthly planning.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? ,
Looking at your results, it’s easy to see that you’re a fierce competitor. Do you have any dreams of racing as a professional some day?
Absolutely! I would like to (1) complete my first Ironman before I finish high school and (2) become a professional triathlete sometime in my career.
Who is your favorite triathlete (both male and female)?
Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins. I got to race with them both in the Toyota US Open Championships!
What is the toughest subject in school?
What is your favorite subject?
English, Spanish, Math, and Science
How do you decide what your goal is for how much money you want to raise for Vogel Alcove, and does that goal change from year to year?
This is my first year of raising money for the Vogel Alcove. When I started earlier this year, my goal was $10,000. We hit that so quickly that I raised it to $20,000. Once we passed that I raised it to $50,000! It has been so great to see so many people and companies help support me, Team Ariana, and the Vogel Alcove. This really is an awesome sport with a phenomenal support group.
How do you spend your down time (what’s your favorite non-athletic thing to do)?
Playing with my friends (sleepovers, movies, fun sports) and doing fun activities with my family (traveling, cooking, etc.).
What’s the hardest part about triathlon training?
The hardest part about triathlon training is usually not the training itself, but finding a way to structure my schedule so I can fit it in. I have found that taking breaks from my homework to train really allows me to recharge and focus more on my studying.
Are your friends into triathlon as well, or do they think you’re crazy?
I met my best friend (who lives an hour away) through triathlon racing. She is my BFF and I wish I could see her more. My other friends don’t race, but are supportive. Some have come to see races, but many don’t like getting up that early and they generally think I am crazy!