Inspirational Story – Erin Sullivan

Published by USA Triathlon

I share my Power Within every day by encouraging others to discover their own power. My power is their power. – Erin Sullivan, IHJ President

She never thought she could do it. A triathlon, that is. She knew she was a decent swimmer, and she knew how to ride a bike. She eventually took up running so she could complete a marathon, and ultimately found herself here, on the start line of a triathlon.

Erin Sullivan inspires others to take part in triathlon. She delights in sharing that feeling of possibility with those around her, so they can take on new challenges and achieve their goals. 

That’s how Erin has always been. Of all the races in which she’s competed, the ones she enjoys the most are when she’s racing with a new triathlete — staying alongside them through the whole course, regardless of the finishing place or time.

She watches as members of the Omaha, Nebraska-based Ironhawk Juniors Triathlon Club — a free program for girls ages 8-14 — cross the finish line of a local race. She’s elated for these kids, proud of the positive impact she’s had on their lives as a volunteer. Her heart swells when she thinks about their journey; how many of them could never have imagined completing a triathlon before they were offered the training, resources and support to do so.

Erin often looks back on the athletes who have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish a goal: The person who was afraid of water and just swam his first 25 yards in a pool, or the person who never imagined riding a bike more than once around the block who just completed her first 10-mile ride. It’s a reminder for Erin that we all build each other up, and that you never know who you may be inspiring each time you step out the door to swim, bike or run.

She smiles as she reminiscences, hoping she can continue to inspire the kids, race volunteers and parents for years to come.

The Hunt Is On!

Here are a few things to remember as you participate in the IHJ Virtual Scavenger Hunt:

  1. The Scavenger Hunt begins Friday, August 7 and ends on Sunday, August 16.
  2. There are 7 items on the list for you to “find”. Your goal is to find at least 5 of the things on the list. Be creative. Think outside of the box. What does find water mean to you?
  3. Take a photo of yourself or have someone else take a photo of you with the found item. You can then email the photos to or upload them to the Ironhawk Juniors Facebook event page. Click on the unicorn below to go directly to our Facebook event page to post your photos.
  4. If you are unable to take photos, no worries, just send an email and let us know which items you have found.

Here’s the list – remember, your goal is to have fun and find at least 5 but try for all 7:   

  1. Find some water
  2. Pedal around (helmet required, no bike necessary)
  3. Run. Skip. Jump
  4. Find a unicorn
  5. Find the Ironhawk Junior Logo
  6. Encourage someone with a sign
  7. Find a healthy snack

Ironhawk Juniors Virtual Scavenger Hunt

We miss you. We miss our weekly sessions. We miss your wonderful t-shirts and your smiles and your awesomeness.

We hope that you are getting outside and practicing your biking and running (and swimming if you can). We just could not let the summer pass without having an event. An event that does not require any special equipment. You can all do it. We are calling our event: The Ironhawk Juniors Virtual Scavenger Hunt

If you have not already signed up for our Scavenger Hunt, you still have time. The Hunt officially begins this Friday, August 7. The deadline to register is Wednesday, August 5. You can register here:

Our Girls – Taking It Further!

A few of the IHJ girls are taking triathlon into their own hands amid the pandemic.

Chloe participated in a triathlon event in Ankeny, IA. Chloe is 9 years old and has quite a few more years with IHJ!

Finnley & Abbie are two other IHJ athletes and decided to create their own triathlon – Summer Fun Triathlon. Finnley mapped a route, swimming the lake and bike/run the neighborhood in Plattsmouth. She emailed participants, collected registrations, gathered all the supplies and even made medals!! The event had about 20 participants, as well as neighbor volunteers. It was open to all ages, even her toddler sister participated.

These three young ladies did not have the option to participate in the IHJ program due to COVID-19, but they found a way to inspire others and stay active in running, biking and swimming. Way to turn a negative into a positive gals!!

IHJ is very proud of you all and all of our girls who are practicing their running, biking, and/or swimming. We cannot wait to see you next year!

2020 Season Cancelled

The Ironhawk Juniors Board has decided to cancel the 2020 Season due to the current pandemic. We are saddened to cancel the 2020 season but it’s the right thing to do to help get our community back on track. We are staying hopeful though and currently planning an awesome end of summer event. Stay healthy and active and we will send more communication soon!!

Please see the full letter below:

IHJ Program Update Re: COVID-19

Hello IHJ Athletes, Parents, Volunteers, Supporters-

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the Douglas County Health Department, we are forced to cancel the bike and swim lessons originally scheduled for April and May. We are saddened we won’t get to help with these lessons, but your safety and well-being are the priorities of the Ironhawk Juniors Tri Club. We are also going to put registration on hold for now, as we wait to learn more from local, state and national health leaders. We hope you are finding ways to stay active! We will post any important information here and on our website. Don’t forget to wash your hands and practice social distancing!! #bekind #empoweringgirlsthrutriathlon #bebrave

COVID-19: Omaha Community Assistance

For those who may need extra help at this time, the Omaha community has many resources for parents and children. Below are some of those resources:

Together Omaha

  • Pantry hours effective immediately and until further notice: 
    • Monday-Thursday 12pm-3pm
    • Friday 12pm-2pm
  • Pantry boxes will be distributed from the dock located at the backside of the parking lot. Staff will fill out the USDA waiver form to eliminate personal contact. 

Project Hope Food Pantry

  • 6201 North 60th Street, 68104
  • Call for hours: (402) 452-7649

St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry

  • 2101 Leavenworth Street, 68102
  • Call for hours: (402) 341-1689

Omaha Public Schools – Meals

  • OPS Teacher Administrative Center
  • 3215 Cuming Street, 68131
  • Call for hours/information: (531) 299-0220


State Farm Offers Free Sack Lunches

  • 2504 S. 13th Street, Omaha, NE
  • Free sack lunches to children and families in need. An Uncrustable, bag of chips, and an orange will be provided according to the release
  • Tuesday, March 17th and Thursday, March 19th from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m.

Youth Emergency Services Outreach Center

  • 1-3pm Monday-Friday
  • Youth will be able to get boxed or sacked meals. 
  • Outreach staff will assist youth not available at those times by appointment.
  • 2679 Farnam Street, Suite 205, Omaha, NE 68131 
  • 402-345-5187

New Opportunities for IHJ with CSM updates!

With the facility updates happening at our partner’s campus, we can continue to drive opportunities for our Juniors! We cannot wait to see progress and the finished product. Read below for the full story!

College of Saint Mary plans new $20 million Wellness and Athletic Center

KETV, Feb 2020

There’s a large pile of dirt sitting on the field east of the Lied Fitness Center on the campus of College of Saint Mary. In more than a year, administrators expect it to turn into an 82,000 square-foot Wellness and Athletics Center.

“I see the strength and grit of pairing athletics with academics,” said Dr. Maryanne Stevens, President of College of Saint Mary.

Stevens knew it was time to expand. When she started in 1996, there were four sports. Now there are 11 and the facilities are 20 years old. She said there is not enough space.

“We don’t have enough offices for the offices. Softball needs to practice and it’s hard to practice outdoors when there is still snow on the ground,” she said. “They need to be practice inside but the basketball season is still going.”

Dr. Maryanne Stevens looks at renderings.
Student athletes said it’s tough cramming all the teams in the locker rooms and weight room.

“It takes a toll because you are so crunched in the weight room and you can’t do the full workouts to your ability,” said volleyball player Makenna Freeman.

The school added the track and field program recently but athletes can’t compete in certain events since CSM doesn’t have the facility.

“I feel like there are a lot of schools in the GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference) where we fall behind because we don’t have the facilities we can train on,” said runner Samantha Ochoa.

The assistant athletic director said the facility will help recruit athletes and provide even more space for the community programs they sponsor for young girls.

“When we have new space and new amenities, it’s going to be wide open. We are going to be able to help so many more programs and people,” said Jamie Adams.

“What’s more important to us is that we are helping young girls in the community and if they choose to come here and if it’s the right fit for them, that’s great,” Stevens said. “But even if they don’t, what we’ve done is help them get through those early teenage years fit and with some grit.”

The school expects to break ground in March and open the facility in spring 2021.