Uncommon Sports: Millikin’s Triathlon Team Has Found Their Home
February 22, 2023
Triathlon is one of the most underrated sports at Millikin. Not just for their victories, but also for the emphasis they place on their athletes’ health.
Over the last few years, Millikin Women’s Triathlon has made it to the National Tournament — and the campus community was barely informed. Now, the team is so successful people have to pay attention. While the team’s focus on their sport certainly contributed to their success, so did the equal importance they place on their mental and physical well-being.
Julia Druml is actively involved on Millikin’s campus as well as in her athletic program. Druml is a junior at Millikin getting her degree in nursing with a minor in nutrition. She used to be a part of the softball team before joining the triathlon team. She also is a part of the Tri Delta sorority here and enjoys both her studies and her free time, whenever she can get some.
Druml said, “Millikin Triathlon is an interesting team. We focus a lot on mental health and changing your outlook in your sport as well as your life.”
With this daily habit, the triathlon athletes have developed a positive manifestation mindset, furthering their success.
“If you decide that it’s going to be a good practice, going to be a good day, it will be a good practice and it will be a good day. You will have a great season,” she said. “I think a lot of sports lack the awareness of how much mental health matters and what that can look like no matter the sport.”
Beyond their mental health, the team is sure to emphasize physical care through their demanding, exhilarating sport. They aim to listen to their bodies and know their limits to not lead to injury or a negative headspace.
Druml said, “Millikin triathlon is such a loving environment where we love our bodies so that’s why we do what we do. Not to cause pain, but to be better individuals.”
Millikin’s Athletics Department publishes and promotes the numerous different teams on campus, but triathlon often gets overlooked. Last year, they earned second place at their National Tournament. After their national qualifier race and their long trip home, the swim team members were the only ones waiting to congratulate them.
“Triathlon did well last year, as did softball. And you guys got a lot of publicity, and it’s just a thought of ‘Where is that for us as well?’” said Druml. “It seems like not a lot of the campus community was aware of that success unless you know of people on the team.”
In 2022, the Women’s triathlon team was granted a new locker room/suite that they have utilized tremendously during their season as well as their off-season. The space has supported athletes in their overall physical, mental and spiritual health — a balance all athletic programs should have the opportunity to embrace. They hope that this is the first step to a campus-wide awareness of the team.
The triathlon team inherited Millikin’s former bookstore last semester, when the shop moved into the old Subway location right outside of the Woods apartment complex. The space, in a suite in Dolson Hall, has allowed them to add more equipment, do more indoor workouts and develop relationships and bonds outside of their day-to-day training.
Another triathlon member, Shay Buchanan, is a computer science major at Millikin. She has been a part of triathlon and swim for three years, and is also involved in Millikin University Performance Consulting.
Buchanan has expressed gratitude for the opportunities triathlon is beginning to receive, having watched her team build their way up over the course of her college career — in the past, the swim and triathlon teams were combined in a small space in the West Towne Square building.
“Last year, we did have a suite in the exercise science building but with a lot less space and a lot fewer resources, Buchanan said.” “We had to carry most of our equipment in our backpacks due to our only real individual storage space being a small plastic bin on the windowsill. We generally stored only our helmets and bike shoes there, and for that reason, we’d often forget other equipment, since there’s so many different types of practices for this sport, and sometimes you forget what all you need, or plans change.”
Now, the 40 athletes that are a part of the two teams are much less cramped. The new space also allows for relationships to develop further, a component that is just as important as the team’s physical strength.
Buchanan said, “I think my favorite thing about having a new space is the area we have to sit and chat. Sometimes, before or after practice now, we will sit down on the couches or at the table and discuss. Previously, if we needed to break down a practice afterwards, we would all crowd sitting on the floor. Having a sort of ‘team living room’ really livens up practice.”
Triathlon may be an uncommon sport, but here at Millikin, they are beginning to flourish with newfound publicity. Things are looking bright, both for their achievements and athletes’ personal development. This fall, the team took home third place overall at their National competition — proof that it’s much more than physical competition that makes an athlete strong.