‘Grow more confident’: Ironhawk Juniors teaches girls athleticism and confidence

More than one hundred young girls laced up their shoes, grabbed their swimming suits and strapped on their helmets for the Ironhawk Juniors Triathlon.

OMAHA, Neb. —

On Sunday morning, more than one hundred young girls laced up their shoes, put on their swimming suits and strapped on their helmets for the Ironhawk Juniors Triathlon.

It’s an eight-week course teaching 8 to 14-year-olds the ins and outs of being a multi-sport athlete.

“Every week, they swam, they biked, or they ran,” said Erin Sullivan, director of Ironhawk Juniors.

Building up their endurance, in order to get them across the finish line.

“We prepare them for today where they did a short little mini-triathlon, which many of them have never, ever done before,” she said.

Sullivan said through Ironhawk Juniors free program, they provided training and equipment for more than 100 girls.

“Fifty percent of them don’t have a bike and so if they came today, that was one of our rules. They took the bike home with them. It’s theirs to keep. The bike, the helmet, the swimsuit, everything,” Sullivan said.

Through biking, swimming and running, the non-profit teaches girls how to grow as an athlete and a person.

“When I first started, I was really shy. So, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone, or I just wanted to stay in my own little bubble,” said Bella.

Bella’s been an Ironhawk Junior since the program began in 2018, using every season to branch out and meet someone new.

“It helps girls get to know each other and just make new friends,” she said.

While encouraging girls like Eva, to simply be themselves.

“It’s helped me grow more confident,” Eva said.

Her mom and volunteer, Nichole Van Eepoel, said she’s seen the program shatter the societal norm of what a girl is supposed to look like.

“This helps girls learn that, that’s not a real thing. There is no rules on what you should look like in order to be athletic. There’s no rules on what you need to wear, what brand you should wear, what you should look like,” Van Eepoel said.

Giving each girl the same opportunity, no matter their appearance or background.

“You see girls from all walks of life, all different ethnicities, different countries of origin, and again, just a great representative program for our city,” said Paco Fuentes, there cheering his granddaughter on.

This year’s season is over, if interested in joining visit ironhawkjuniors.org, a registration link will be posted in the Spring.

by Kale Searcy, KETV

Updated: 6:29 PM CDT Jul 31, 2022

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