WACO, Texas (KWTX) – The non-profit organization Greater Waco Sports Commission is reopening applications for Team Waco’s Ironman training and competition program, and the organization also hopes to expand its activities to help more amateur athletes in the community.
“Our long-term vision is for Team Waco to be a program that truly helps the entire community, no matter what the sporting adventure,” said Greater Waco Sports Commission Executive Director Mike Vogelaar.
He said the program would cover all ages, from league baseball to rowing. If sports groups are struggling financially, Team Waco looks forward to providing resources.
“Whether it’s rowing, triathlon, volleyball or Little League, we want to be there and support this community in athletics,” he said.
Vogelaar said their support will reach the Greater Waco community, especially the East Waco community, which may lack the resources to support local athletes.
“We want to be able to serve the entire Greater Waco community,” he said. “East Waco is definitely an area we want to support, so there are a lot of incredible athletes out there who might be missing some of those resources.”
Vogelaar said the nonprofit hopes to be operational soon, but first they need community support, including partnerships and donations from local businesses, and the participation of Waco residents.
“We need various local corporations and businesses so that they can… really help us manage the resources that we have locally,” he said. “We also just want community participation, and so we’re forming committees to help evaluate the various opportunities that lie ahead and then take action to help realize them.”
In addition to Team Waco expanding its activities, the program continues to sponsor several Waco athletes interested in participating in Ironman.
Mikaela McKeown joined Team Waco to prepare for the Ironman in October. However, she had two reasons to apply to Team Waco.
“I really wanted to see if it was a new way that I could challenge and evolve in a way that I didn’t previously think was possible, but in addition, I really wanted to be a voice and an environmentalist in this. race setup,” she said.
She wanted to make an impact on Waco’s environment by racing.
“As a person who loves the environment and nature, and as an athlete, we use the environment and the resources of the environment on a daily basis, especially as athletes,” said McCown.
So she worked with employees at Ironman, Team Waco and Keep Waco Beautiful to launch initiatives to make the race more environmentally friendly, including more recycling stations, pizza box composting, water tanks, solar charging stations and much more.
“My main message I wanted to share was that we rely on the environment for everything,” said McKeown. “Whether you are an athlete or not, we all rely on the environment and our actions have a negative impact on the environment. We must be good stewards of these resources, not only for ourselves as athletes, but for everyone.”
She encourages other Waco residents who might be interested in racing for whatever reason to apply for the program, it might just change your life, just like hers.
“The whole Ironman journey was like that moment, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,'” McKeown said. “It’s absolutely incredible. It changes my life and I never had a team experience when I was growing up… so this group of people just surrounded me and cheered me up and encouraged me, it was just an incredible experience.”
She is grateful to Team Waco for the support, mentorship, equipment, training and sponsorship to achieve this goal in her life and the lives of her teammates.
She said that if someone is interested in participating, but may hesitate, the program can be included in people’s schedules, but this is an obligation.
“It’s not overwhelming… It’s given in small portions, which makes it manageable and you can really focus on the day and the week ahead,” she said. “But, it’s a time commitment, that’s for sure. Any Ironman athlete should… have great time management and discipline, getting up early and coming to work or the gym, and doing those workouts to help you prepare for this race.”
Applications for participation in Team Waco are accepted until 23:59 on February 19th. Application and information can be found here.
The Board will select a number of athletes to apply.
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