From the CEO
By Rocky Harris

In some ways, it’s odd that I’m writing my first column as USA Triathlon’s new CEO in the “Throwback Issue.” This issue is all about going back to triathlon’s roots and celebrating the elements of our sport that have stood the test of time. Meanwhile, I’m the new guy in town, and so much of my focus is on the future.

But I think whenever you set big goals for the future, it makes sense to look back as well. As we move forward with a new strategic plan for USA Triathlon, there’s really no better time to learn from our history. How did we get to where we are today as an organization, and as a sport?

In fact, USA Triathlon was founded by race directors. It was the product of collaboration between many stake-holders in the industry — a coordinated effort to launch a National Governing Body for what was, in 1982, a new and growing sport. There was a need for one entity to exist as the authority on rules, certifications and other standards, and there was a need for a central source of information on all levels of racing.

The passion and commitment of those early race directors is what, to me, has stood the test of time. The industry collaboration that first brought about USA Triathlon is what has kept this sport strong across the nation. We’ve always been a community driven by grassroots participation, fueled by coaches, race directors and officials, and inspired by elite athletes competing at the highest level. At times we’ve lost sight of that collaborative mindset, and our sport has suffered as a result.

That same philosophy is driving our new strategic plan, which is focused on service leadership, performance excellence and collaborative partnerships, and which now serves as the basis for all organizational decisions. I plan to keep our members informed about the strategic plan and how we’re implementing it across the board at USA Triathlon — but to start, you can find it in full at

We have big challenges and ambitious goals ahead of us, including growing multisport participation by people of all ages and backgrounds and improving our collaborative efforts across the industry. As a
membership-driven organization, however, we depend on your participation and support. Quite simply, we can’t succeed in these goals without you.

My charge to you is to use your platform as an athlete to inspire others. Encourage a new triathlete to join you for Rocky Harris an easy swim, bike or run. Teach someone who has never done a triathlon about short-course racing, relays, indoor triathlons and beginner waves. Show a friend or family member what’s possible with hard work and determination, and share your unique story with others both in and out of the sport. Collaborate with your multisport peers to recruit new participants. We are all a part of this community, and we all have a role to play to help it grow.

Finally, I want to emphasize that we’d like to hear from you directly. Whether you are an athlete, race director, coach, official or parent, I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas about growing the sport. You can reach out to me directly on Twitter @SunDevilRocky, via email at or in person at one of our races. Your feedback helps us identify the great ideas and practices that will stand the test of time, just like those featured in the following pages.


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