Few people understand how much work is put into keeping a club sport running smoothly here at the University of Oregon. Matthew Dracker, the coordinator for the Oregon club triathlon team, is one of the few who does.
Dracker didn’t get into triathlons until his sophomore year of college. He played soccer in high school until a severe concussion knocked him out of the sport. After abstaining from competing athletically his freshmen year, Dracker decided to give triathlons a shot and he quickly fell in love with the sport.
When Dracker attended his first club meeting his sophomore year, he had no idea that he would eventually be leading the club. In fact, during his first meeting he felt so overwhelmed and intimidated that he almost didn’t continue with the sport.
“I happened to sit next to the one guy on the team who was super into triathlons his entire life,” Dracker said. “He started telling me about his personal trainer, and here I am having never done anything remotely close to a triathlon in my life. I thought, ‘Wow, I shouldn’t be here right now.’”
Now Dracker has become an integral part of the team, taking it upon himself to keep things running. He noticed issues as a member with the club that he has now resolved as coordinator. From low attendance rates to unorganized practices, Dracker has made a lot of changes.
“Matt is very driven,” head coach Scott James said. “He expects the best out of himself and the best out of other people.”
Dracker has taken it upon himself to organize and lead multiple practices a week, something that very few club coordinators do.
“Being a coordinator of a sport like triathlon, as opposed to being coordinator of a team sport,” Dracker said. “The hardest part is getting people to show up to practice.”
Keeping people motivated is a tough task for any coordinator, especially in triathlon because the sport is so individual. To combat this, Dracker tries to show members how beneficial it is to train as a team, scaling the difficulty of the practices accordingly so that each member gets the most out of training
“He is easy to talk to and cares a lot about the team,” said Jake Boudreaux, a senior member of the club.
Sometimes this dedication to helping the club stunts his own training. On bike rides, he splits the team into the fast and slow riders, and often he finds himself with the slower group.
“It does in some ways hurt my training because I am not pushing myself as hard in all practices,” Dracker said. “But at the same time it is motivation for me because I know I have to get out there and be there for those riders.”
But for all the hard work at the end of the day Dracker is glad he became coordinator.
“Every year you get better at leading, which makes it easier and more fun,” Dracker said. “The majority of my friend group has been triathletes.”
Follow Chris Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur