Saturday, December 16, 2017

BUZZWORTHY - New SUTC President Shawn Jaca

Get to know the new president of the Southern Utah Tri Club, Mr. Shawn Jaca (pronounced "Hacka"). Shawn is our kinda guy, using the word BUZZ 8 times in this interview... let's all continue pitching in to build the buzz and camaraderie throughout the state in 2018!

For starters, can you remind us on the general history of SUTC?

The Southern Utah Triathlon Club was founded in 2006. We are a non-profit 501c3 club and have been at the forefront of the Utah triathlon club scene. Our club members range from new beginners to seasoned elite/pro athletes such as Sarah Jarvis.

Where are you from originally, and how long have you lived in St. George? What initially brought you to Utah?

I'm originally from Central Oregon, a small town north of Bend named Madras, "The Gateway to Central Oregon" and home of the "White Buffaloes." I moved to St. George 13 years ago for a career opportunity. I told myself moving away from family and friends to work for the Arizona Strip BLM that I'd give it 3 years. Well this secret gem grabbed me for an additional 10 years! Ha! I work Fire and it's been in my blood since I was 16 years old in high school as a "White Buffalo." Fire has been an amazing career and supports my kids and my addiction of triathlon.

What’s your personal athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

After playing competitive sports as a kid and through high school, I chose to focus on school which led to my career. So needless to say that my athletic background after high school was playing the occasional pickup game of hoops and softball. I didn't get into triathlon until four years ago. My family changed, I became a single overweight dad of two amazing kids and I decided that I needed a lifestyle change. I ran the Dogtown 10k and that buzzz of competition hooked me. I saw that St. George offered a couple sprint triathlons and the Ironman 70.3 and I was all in! I signed up for the Trick or Tri, SHAC Tri and SG Ironman 70.3 without having a bike, weighing 240lbs, single with two kids, but that buzzz was still buzzing me. Today I have raced 3 Ironmans, 5 Ironman 70.3's, 3 marathons, numerous local triathlons and running races and I'm down to 180lbs. The buzzz is still in me!

What initiatives are most important to you as the new president of SUTC… what do you hope to accomplish?

"Train Hard, Race Well, Help Others." It's important that we focus on these three elements. We need BUZZ back in SUTC! Having this opportunity to be the president I've build a team to build the buzz. I can't do this alone, so I've reached out to past presidents Amber Blair and Ryan Duckworth, past board members Lyle Anderson and Justin Bandley, and current members Ian Gerritsen, Heath Snow, Tara Snow, Telea Hollingshead and Shantel Pack to be on the team to build our new BUZZ. We've all put our heads together with input of SUTC members and we will be focusing on the dynamics of the club. Social events, more group workouts, being in the spotlight in southern Utah, supporting local races, and giving back to our wonderful sponsors.

What’s the greatest strength and also opportunity for improvement of SUTC in its current form?

The greatest strength is that we have passion on the board and passion in our club. Without passion for the sport and without the passion for each other, the club will fall apart.  Areas where we can improve are in "recruitment and retention."

Recruiting - bring in new members who have a passion for this sport or who just want a fun group who Trains Hard, Races Well and Helps Others. Don't focus on the longer distance races. Focus on local.

Retention - ensuring that we follow through with what we told members we would bring to them. I want members to feel like they have ownership in SUTC.
Pardon our ignorance on this one… is it more common for SUTC athletes to venture north for local races or to race further south/out of state when not racing in St. George (ie Vegas, etc)?

I'm not too sure! I will say that we have members travel north and we have members travel south to Las Vegas. As for what's more common I can't answer that question. But I so want to promote the Utah Triathlon Championship Series.

Awesome to here that! Our hope is that the newly created Championship Series will create more traffic both directions for Utah races. What are your thoughts?

I think this is a wonderful idea. We need to see Tri clubs maybe highlighted to bring buzz to the clubs in Utah. We need to work together and promote. I again love this idea. I have and will continue to promote it to our members.

the infamous island at Sand Hollow Reservoir

In general how can we continue to build camaraderie among the Southern & Northern Utah tri communities?

We could use some fun competition between the clubs in Utah and need to come together for social, training and race events.

We love to hype the grassroots, local races, but St. George 70.3 is clearly the most prestigious tri in our state. What are some lessons you’ve learned from training and racing on that course?

Get your butt on Snow Canyon as much as you can before race day, and transition into that beast of a run. Be prepared for all conditions (hot, cold, wind, sleet).  SLTC / SUTC has a camp each year in St. George prior to SG Ironman 70.3 and I'd suggest that every person that can participate should. Great opportunity to meet new people and learn from great athletes. We showcase and train on the course with some amazing aid station support.

Anything else you want to share?

Triathlon is a great way to live a healthy life and it's an amazing lifestyle. Get involved, be active, participate, and support local. Remember that SUTC is about "Training Hard, Racing Well and Helping Others." Our partnership with you is paramount to the success with SUTC and triathlon in Utah.

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Utah Triathlon Championship Series

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