2013 Female Triathlete of the Year – Sandy Holt

Presented by Bill Dillon

I am very honored tonight to have the privilege to present the award for Female Triathlete of the Year.  In thinking about what to say about this individual five words came to mind: STRONG, AFFABLE, NOTEWORTHY, DEDICATED and YOUTH.

STRONG:  It will not be surprising to anyone that knows her that tonight’s honoree would be described as STRONG. However, this individual is not just physically strong but has tremendous strength of character and spirit.  Like most of us who participate in triathlons, this individual came to our sport from other athletic endeavors. Like many little girls, our winner participated in gymnastics.  However, not only did she participate but she was good, good enough that she had dreams of participating in the Olympic trials.  Not only did our winner put in the time and effort in the gym, she worked side by side with her mom cleaning the gym after classes so that she could afford to receive instruction and travel with the team to competitions.  Unfortunately, our winner suffered an injury that effectively ended her gymnastics career.  But remember, I told you our winner was STRONG.  Rather than become a victim of circumstance, our winner took her talents to the pool and became a competitive diver on her high school team.  Doing well in regional and state competitions, our winner was offered the ability to compete for several colleges in Florida.  However, it was her dream to be a Seminole so she passed on those offers to attend FSU where she graduated in three years with a degree in meteorology.

AFFABLE: Anybody that has spent more than five minutes with our winner will agree that AFFABLE accurately describes this person.  Despite being an accomplished athlete our winner has no airs about her.  She will gladly engage in conversation with the “back of the packers” just as well as with the elites in our sport.  A kind and generous person, our winner is a friend to both man and beast.  In fact, I have it on good authority that at her recent nuptials, one of the wedding participants was a dog dressed to the “T” wearing a bow tie.  This is truly a lady that knows how to “stay classy.”

NOTEWORTHY: By definition all of tonight’s award winners are “NOTEWORTHY” and the Female Triathlete of the Year is no different.  As you may know, the Ironman Race distance, is considered by many triathletes to be the pinnacle of the sport.  The 2012 Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs once said that the “Ironman race is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest for the everyday man.  It is something of immense difficulty without necessarily having to risk life or limb.”  Those who have competed in an Ironman race are very familiar with the saying “Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the Rest of Your life.” (And we do.) That said many people who have competed in an Ironman distance event are “one and done.”  The training for the race is so time consuming and the impact on the body is so brutal that many people stop at one, but not our winner.  By my count our winner is an eleven time Ironman finisher.  If that is not impressive enough from September 2012 until August 2013 our winner competed in seven Ironman races (Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Coeur d’ alene, Lake Placid and Louisville) finishing no lower than 20th place in her age group at every race.  I would say that is pretty noteworthy.

DEDICATED: Clearly our winner is a dedicated athlete but she is also a DEDICATED coach and mentor.  Several years ago, our winner made the decision to follow her dream, quit her job and put her time and effort into triathlon coaching.  I remember telling this individual that I was envious of what she was doing and was impressed that she had the strength and courage to follow her dream.  Slowly but surely her coaching business has grown and her team of athletes absolutely love and respect her.  They may actually fear her a little bit as I have seen some of her team members, on more than one occasion, hide their french fries or look around for her anxiously before ordering a beer at the monthly Tri Club meetings.  That said, her dedication to her athletes has propelled many of them to new athletic heights.  Some of her athletes would be considered in the top tier of our tri community and some would be considered “middle of the pack,” however one common trait is that they have all improved dramatically.

YOUTH:  My final descriptive word is YOUTH.  For all the accomplishments that I have mentioned, our winner is not yet 30 years of age.  She accomplished quite a bit in her young life and it is my hope that her Youth will allow her to impact many more individuals in the sport of triathlon. STRONG, AFFABLE, NOTEWORTHY, DEDICATED, YOUTH, (“S”. “A”. “N”. “D”. “Y”.) these are the words to describe our 2013 Female Triathlete of the Year…Sandy Holt.