How did you become a professional triathlete?
A lot of little boys want to be athletes when they grow up. Growing up in a small town in Texas, though, the only professional sports I knew to choose from were ball games: football, baseball, basketball. But I was too small for football and too short for basketball, and while I was a good fielder and thrower for baseball, when it came to hitting the ball…eh, not so much.
Then I decided to try out for a local swim team. That one stuck. A few years later I was the swimmer on a triathlon relay sponsored by Dow Chemical where my dad worked. By the time I was 13, I was hooked on triathlons. Even at this point, though, I didn’t realize I’d one day make my living as a professional.
A few years later, when I was in high school, I represented the U.S. in my first world championship team event, in Muskoka, Canada. It was a good experience and a decent race, but I don’t really remember what place I was. Above all else, I didn’t know that I’d just taken one of the first steps in my path towards being a professional triathlete. Looking back at that race, though, lot of those competitors around me on that course would later become professionals, too.
In 1993, I started college at the University of Houston, where I got my degree in chemical engineering five years later. With the degree came a position in environmental engineering at a company in Austin.
But all throughout my education and the start of my career, I still raced as an age grouper, ranking higher as I got more experience. I placed 2nd overall at the 2003 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. It was after this finish that I qualified for my elite card and decided to see what it was like to race the “big boys.” Finally, in 2007, I left engineering to focus on coaching athletes and racing professionally.
Sometimes, I do wonder how well I might have done if I had started my professional journey a bit earlier, but any way I look at it…it has been and continues to be a great journey.