Team Triumph creates opportunities for kids to do trialathons


Courtesy of Aly Nussear

Team Triumph started at Morningside Elementary in 2015, led by former Physical Education teacher, Aly Nussear.

Cate Barton

Children as young as 5 years old can start racing in triathlons because of Team Triumph, a team founded by Aly Nussear, a former physical education teacher at Morningside Elementary.

In 2015, Nussear founded Team Triumph at Morningside. The team initially consisted of just 13 students, all from Morningside. The team continued to grow, consisting of 83 kids in 2019, made up of  elementary and middle school students.  

“The kids have a bike and they need to go swim and run, but that’s really all you need, so it started from there,” Nussear said. “I had some influence and I just started talking about it [in physical education class] and we started having practices before school and more and more kids thought ‘oh this is cool I should join this’ and I made it cool to be on the team.”

Nussear developed her love for triathlons when she turned 51. Her love developed into a passion, and she became an All-American in 2015 and 2019. 

“I thought I love these [triathlons], why don’t I try to get the kids to do it,’” Nussear said. “I get excited about the sport and getting kids to do it. I have an avenue where kids can do this cool thing and be so proud of themselves because they accomplished a triathlon.”

The team practices at Piedmont Park on Sundays, as well as after school on Mondays. Since many children have never competed in a triathlon, Nussear said a lot of practice is required.

“We’re looking at biking, and bike safety and running and how to get on and off the bike and take your helmet on and off,” Nussear said. “[I’m] teaching them how to transition from one sport to the next and safety and just learning how to do those things because there’s so much involved in a triathlon.”

Team Triumph’s objective is to encourage kids to participate in triathlons and discover a liking for them, rather than   being the team with the greatest overall score.

“My main goal is for safety of course, but it is also for a kid to do a triathlon and want to do another one so they’re successful in a triathlon and then they want to do another one, so it helps show them success and growth,” Nussear said.

In addition to making her children better athletes, Emily O’Brian, a parent of two Team Triumph athletes Chap and Belle O’Brian said, the team has also helped her children with confidence.

“I think when the kids finish the triathlon, they are so very proud of themselves, and we are too, and that’s very confidence boosting and very worthwhile,” O’Brain said.

O’Brian said that Team Triumph has not only helped her children become more athletic and confident, but also taught them what it means to work as a team.

“I think Coach Nussear does a very good job of making them feel like they are a part of a team and making them all so excited for each other,” O’Brian said. “It’s very heartwarming to see them rooting for each other and happy for each other. In Belle’s first race, one of the other athletes got to the last leg of the race and the kid actually waited for Belle, and they ran across the finish line together and it was very sweet because they didn’t really care about their time at all they cared more about finishing together.”

From fourth to sixth grade, freshman Cameron Collier participated on Team Triumph. Collier now takes part in both the cross country and track teams at Midtown. Collier credited Team Triumph with transforming his running from recreational to competitive.

“Team Triumph helped me as an athlete in a number of ways,” Collier said. “I gained another level of fitness and knowledge on swimming, biking and running. It also helped with building confidence in myself and a sense of self achievement.”

Similar to Collier, sophomore Alexis Dalton at Lovett, who is now competing at State in swimming this year, said Team Triumph helped her lay the groundwork for swimming and school athletics.

“I would definitely recommend it to others because it was a good, stress-free introduction to a school sport since the environment of school sports is way different than club sports,” Dalton said. “It also showed me as an athlete that I can train for my sport in other ways, while also teaching me more about persistence and consistency when training.”