June 11, 2014
When she talks about competing in triathlons, you wouldn't know that Wendy Burns-Ardolino is a relative newcomer to the sport. Her first triathlon was in 2010. She's since completed many more, including the Michigan Titanium in Grand Rapids in late August.
"From the first one I did with a friend, I've loved the community of triathletes and the camaraderie at an event," said Burns-Ardolino, associate professor and chair of Liberal Studies. Competing in triathlons fits nicely with the research Burns-Ardolino conducts: how their sport experiences affects women's views of their bodies. "Sports are a key way we learn what our bodies are capable of. It's the main reason I wanted to do triathlons. I know my body can do things, with proper training, that are pretty remarkable," she said.
She trains with a group, Real Women Tri, and finds resources, support and encouragement from its 100 members. The group has a Facebook page and Listserve for members to pose questions about a particular course, or discuss the latest athletic gear. "The team really supports each other, and makes recommendations. It's sort of the feminist model of sharing and encouraging," she said.
Burns-Ardolino surrounds herself with a similar academic community. As a mentor, she said it's important to share information. It's perhaps a simple concept, but one she said is key to team building. "I feel it's my responsibility as a peer to help others succeed, if I hold a piece of information that could help someone move forward, whether it's on publishing, or presenting at a conference, I'm going to help in any way I can," she said.