2014 is a special year for the North Texas Team In Training (TNT) campaign. It is celebrating 20 years of running, biking, and hiking to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and it's mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Saturday, Feburary 8th TNT will kick off a year of celebrating. To honor the thousands of North Texas TNT alumni and the millions of dollars they raised in that time, we are going to count down each year of the program leading up to the TNT Alumni "Celebrate You" event on Feburary 8th.
The triathlon program started in North Texas in 1999 under the leadership of Coach Todd Codish. He and the TNT staff took an outline of what the program should look like from the LLS National Office and laid the groundwork for the successful program that it has become today. The first tri team went to Pacific Grove Triathlon in California.
What is your favorite memory of TNT?
I don't know about my favorite memory, I am going to tell you that no matter what I say, I have SO many! The teams I had all had their moments, as most of the folks were involved initially and then for some years after and then the next faction came in. I probably could not every forget the first tri, Pacific Grove 1999. Leah, our honored hero (who is not with us any longer, unfortunately) was great friends with one of the participants (a lot of us, really) and when she came in to finish, she motioned for Leah to come cross the finish line with her, but the poor dear had a leg amputated and was not able to run, so I scooper her up in my arms and carried her as we ran across the finish line. My best pal and assistant (at that time) coach, Dave Nash was there and took a photo.
I rode back on the plane with her next to me and remember telling her I was going to make her a triathlete, that she could do anything she wanted! I heard months later that she had gotten worse and remember drawing a picture of her coming out of the water and sent it to her. Her mom said she loved that. She later was taken from us. Both a wonderful and a tragic memory, I guess.
What brought you to TNT originally?
I was coaching a running club at The Ranch health club in Irving and one of the members had inquired to TNT about a program and asked about one in that (Irving/Las Colinas) area and Carrie or Tina one told her “No, but we’re looking for a coach, do you know of anyone?” She told them about me and they called and I joined Dick Reeder’s staff of 2 other coaches that summer.
What was it like starting a new sport for the North Texas Chapter?
Interestingly enough, I was in Cozumel at the marathon I had coached folks for and Dennis Allman, the national director at that time, had overheard me saying something about triathlon and he asked if I had any experience in triathlon. I told him that was my sport, I was just running a bunch (ran 20 marathons over a 3 year period) and had been asked to lead a run club at Signature Athletic Club and eventually The Ranch. He asked if I would be interested in helping to start the tri program (San Fran had done a couple as an experiment) and of course I told him yes, I would be very interested.
So, we did not have internet and I knew all of the greats in the sport, and they told me that Dave Scott would be the national coach and we would get with him to form the program. So North Texas and about 7 other chapters got together, first in Denver and then again in San Francisco to hammer out details. One of the funny things about it, was that none of the other people were coaches. When Dave starts giving out these plans for serious physiological adaptation and work and I said, “Uh, Dave, have you ever seen a TNT team? I am not sure what you are throwing down here is applicable for our people!”
Truly great to start the thing. I remember our first Maui team, we signed up 170 people!! Took 82.