With over a quarter of Willamette University’s student body involved in athletics, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator Leslie Shevlin has a lot of training to oversee. But for the last eight weeks, she has added to her busy schedule her own training for the Salem Rotary Triathlon. Like many student athletes, Shevlin has been getting up early to train for an hour and a half before starting her workday. Shevlin swam in her college days. While she acknowledges that her training now differs from that of student athletes, she said, “If people can respect what I’m trying to do, even if its not exactly what they’re doing, there is a little bit of a connection there and I’ve always tried to set a good example for my athletes. It can be traumatic to have your athlete time end in college so its good to show that it can go on.”
Shevlin’s example has reached far beyond just inspiring athletes to stay active after college. When she was the head coach of Willamette’s men and women’s swim teams, she got the team involved with volunteering at the Rotary Triathlon. The yearly tradition that Leslie started has continued and surpassed her expectations. Shevlin said that she “wanted to support and participate in a local race… We knew swimming was going to volunteer I appreciate Brent [current head coach of the swim teams] has continued that. But to have softball answer the call at the SAAC meeting and we also have the Center for Hope and Safety 5-kilometer coming up with softball and tennis volunteering, to have our teams in the community being visible and volunteering when we put the call out, that culture is the culture we want.”
Shevlin was the third place finisher for the women’s Olympic distance triathlon and 13th overall with a time of 2:55.14. With a high of 62 degrees Fahrenheit and heavy rain, a mile swim, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and finished with a 10-kilometer run was no easy task. Both the men’s and women’s swim teams and the softball team volunteered at the race to help direct traffic, mark the course and cheer on participants. Shevlin said, “In that kind of weather, with that kind of obstacle, to have people who were putting in effort into their volunteering and to have direction was great. For me, I’d get right past someone before they’d be like, oh its Leslie, go Leslie. To have that constant encouragement was super helpful, it was awesome.” Junior swimmer Claire Alongi reflected on the volunteering.
“It was wet and a little miserable, but then someone would come around the corner while I was cheering and they would smile and some even said thank you. And that pretty much made up for all the rain.”