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Meet the Ladies of Playtri

Meet the Ladies of Playtri

In celebration of Mother’s Day, this month we wanted to highlight some of the awesome female athletes and staff that we have here at Playtri. Playtri has one of the largest female leadership teams in the industry, and we are extremely proud of the women representing us on and off the race course!

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Amy Moore - Athlete

Amy, how long have you been doing Triathlons? How long have you been training with Playtri?

I’ve been doing triathlons for 8 years, and training with Coach Morgan at Playtri for 5 years.

Any big goals for 2021 and beyond?

Qualifying for 2021 Age Group Nationals in the Sprint and Olympic distances. (We’re happy to report that Amy has already qualified for the Sprint distance since we did this interview!)

How has Playtri helped you be successful in your training and competition?

Playtri has shown me how to do quality workouts that fit my athletic ability and lifestyle. I am also more confident in myself and my ability on race day.

Tell us your funniest triathlon training story!

I was excited about doing a long training ride with some friends. I got everything ready and loaded, and drove 45 minutes from my house. I arrived only to find out I left the key to the lock on my bike rack at home. I left totally disappointed and decided to go eat breakfast instead. It wasn’t a total waste!

What triathlon accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am a 3 time Ironman finisher and qualifier for the Age Group National Championship race in the Sprint distance. All of these things were accomplished after the age of 40.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know…

Dessert is my favorite meal!


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Juanita Cano - Group Training Coach

Juanita, how long have you been doing triathlons?

This is my fifth year doing triathlons. I was a late bloomer and didn’t discover the sport until I was 39. It’s never too late to start!!

What do you do at Playtri?

I assist in the Group Training Program and lead several trainings out of the Dallas location as well as conduct knowledge clinics.

How long have you been coaching at Playtri, and what made you want to coach here?

This is my first year coaching with Playtri. Starting with Group Training and easing my way into it. Ahmed had approached me a few years ago about doing it but I was really nervous about it. Morgan reached out to me again last year and since I’m healing from injuries and not really training full time, I thought it would be a good way to stay in touch with the sport while I’m on the “injury reserve list”. I really love the program they have at Playtri.

What is your favorite thing about coaching?

Watching the athletes grow and overcome their insecurities. Their excitement as they achieve their goals and set new ones is infectious and very gratifying.

What does it mean for you to work at a company with a female majority leadership team in a male-dominated industry?

It’s really exciting to see women in positions of authority and leadership. Morgan, our head coach, has gained national recognition and is kicking butt with the Playtri Youth groups at National Competitions. It’s thrilling to watch her mold young athletes into power houses and command the respect of other coaches nationwide.

Do you have any races scheduled for this season? Any big goals?

I’ve done one sprint so far and would like to get a few more under my belt as soon as I’m released from the “injury reserve list”. I miss racing and training. I’d love to be able to do Waco 70.3 in October but I’m going to follow my doctors’ orders and train slowly and methodically because my goal is to do a full Ironman in 2022. If that means I don’t get to race as much this year, that’s ok. As long as I can train safely, I can ensure I’ll be able to participate in the sport in years to come.

Tell us something about you that not many people know…

When I’m not training or working, I love to rescue and foster dogs in my spare time. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now. I currently have a Schnoodle I’m fostering but my favorite breed are Pitbulls. Our entire family has become Pitbull advocates and we have two Pittie foster failures at home, Duke and Duchess.


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Jenna Topott - Junior Athlete

How long have you been doing triathlons?

I have been doing triathlons since I was 6 years old. I have been on the Playtri Elite team for a little under four years.

How long have you been training with Playtri?

I have been training with Playtri for five years. One year on the Silver and Gold 2 teams, and four years on the Elite team.

Any big triathlon goals for 2021 or beyond?

My biggest goal is to be on or near the podium for the remainder of the Youth Elite cup season. Also, I hope one day I can make it to the Olympics or complete an Ironman.

How has Playtri helped you be successful in your training and competition?

Playtri helped me improve not only in speed but also in skill. Team practices help me train consistently, but they also keep me motivated even when workouts are tough. Team Playtri has also provided many wonderful teammates that have helped me push myself. We also have the support of all of our coaches to guide us each and every day.

Tell us your funniest tri training story!

When I think of a funny story, I immediately think of my teammates. There have been many funny moments, like running with your helmet on in a race, or biking with the opposite shoes on the pedals or with just one shoe on. Many things have happened in races that we don't plan on. But in the future, we can laugh about it.

 What triathlon accomplishment are you most proud of?

During a race, my goggles were ripped off at the start of the swim, and I ended up coming out of the water 23. By working well in a bike pack, I managed to bike down 18 people to put me in 5th spot. Finally, I ran down another two people placing me on the podium.

 Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know…

Something most people don't know about me is that I have dyslexia. I have worked hard to manage it to the point where I don't even notice it anymore.


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Kelley Garland Irving - Athlete

How long have you been doing triathlon?

My first triathlon was the September 2018 Playtri Stonebridge Ranch Tri, so 2 ½ years.

Any big triathlon goals for 2021 or beyond?

I am training for my first Ironman (Tulsa) coming up May 23rd and Ironman Waco 70.3 in October where I hope to improve by 2019 time.

How has Playtri helped you be successful in your training and competition?

In 2018 I took advantage of Playtri’s coached open water swims in preparation for a Swim Across America fundraising event. I did not expect to end the year having completed my first sprint triathlon! I WAS only a swimmer! The Playtri coaches were so encouraging to give Triathlon a try and I’m so grateful to them for planting the seed that I could actually do it. I’ve participated in two Playtri camps, coached open water swims and have been training with a Playtri coach since early 2019. My coach provides a training plan specific to me, my goals and lifestyle and provides weekly feedback.

What triathlon accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m proud to have completed Ironman Waco 70.3 in 2019. More importantly, I’m proud that through triathlon, I’ve been active and worked out consistently over the past few years.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know…

I’m a lefty, but I use a mouse with my right hand, upside down. It makes sense to me!


Brenna Zerby - Junior Athlete

How long have you been doing triathlon?

8 years (I’m 17, so since I was 9).

How long have you been training with Playtri?

8 years. I joined the team when I was 9 - that was my first exposure to the sport.

Any big triathlon goals for 2021 or beyond?

I want to place in the top 20 junior elite (age 16-19) women in the US this season, and join a D1 triathlon program when I go to college.

How has Playtri helped you be successful in your training and competition?

Coach Morgan is an amazing coach and I have great teammates to push myself with!

Tell us your funniest tri training story!

In one race I did my necklace got caught on my helmet strap, so I had to do the whole run leg with my helmet on my head!

What triathlon accomplishment are you most proud of?

Ranking 5th in the USAT Youth Elite Women’s Series when I was 15, then this season finishing 4th at the second day of the Clermont EDR in March.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know!

I want to study speech pathology in college, and become a speech therapist when I grow up.


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Morgan Hoffman - Head Coach

How long have you been doing triathlons?

I did my first triathlon in 2009, so 12 years

How long have you been coaching?

I originally started coaching a local youth team the same year I started doing triathlon in 2009, which was what originally made me excited to work with kids in the sport.

How long have been coaching at Playtri? What made you want to coach here?

I just had my 11th “anniversary” with Playtri this past April. I was being individually coached by a Playtri coach while I was in grad school, so I got to see first hand at camps and group training sessions just how solid the coaching system and philosophies were here. When I decided to give a career in triathlon coaching a “go,” it just made sense to apply to work at Playtri! If you had told me then that I would one day be the head coach of the company, I would have thought you were nuts!

What is your favorite thing about coaching?

I just love getting to be part of the journey and competition with my athletes. Getting to share the wins AND the challenges is a privilege that we both grow as a result of. Sharing that journey is very, very special.

What does it mean for you to work at a company with a female majority leadership team in a male-dominated industry?

I literally can’t imagine working anywhere else! I’ve been surrounded by strong, empowered women here from day 1, and that has shaped my personal and professional development in ways that are absolutely invaluable.

Do you have any races scheduled for this season? Any big goals?

Yes! Me and one of my best friends from college (who also raced with me at UNT) got in to SwimRun racing last year. It’s a multisport race that originated in Sweden, and you traverse a course that requires you to swim some lengths and run others, typically on undeveloped terrain. You have to carry all your gear for the entire race, and you are actually tethered to your teammate for the swim, so you have to get pretty creative with your setup! We are going to try and complete our first Long Course event as a team this year, which will probably take us upwards of 7 hours.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know…

I love to read and my college degree is actually in English Literature - I picked that major because they told me I could just read a bunch of books and write/talk about them! Sounded perfect to me!


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Staci Brode - President

What did you do prior to coming to work at Playtri?

I worked for Johnson & Johnson in Sales.

How did you end up working here at Playtri?

I was looking for a new triathlon coach and someone told me Ahmed [Zaher - founder of Playtri] was their coach the really liked him. The rest is history!

What does it mean to you to be part of a leadership team that is majority female in a male-dominated industry?

It is extremely rewarding to me. As our business grew and I started to sit in more leadership meetings and board rooms, I recognized how important giving women opportunities was. I think I was like many women, I didn’t see the issues because I didn’t feel I had been limited by it. When we aren't “in the room" where top decisions are being made, the whole industry is losing out. If you aren’t in the room, you can’t influence the decisions and it is harder to make a difference or provide opportunities for others. There are tons of women in management positions, but still very few in senior leadership / C-suite jobs and without active development of women for these roles and in these roles that will never change. It is part of my mission to support and elevate women where I can.

Tell us about a part of your job that most people wouldn't know about.

Sometimes people don’t realize Ahmed Zaher is my husband, since we don’t have the same last name. It is always a little funny when people tell me about knowing him - that they know the owner, the guy in charge.

What’s your favorite workout to do?

These days - any workout I can get in! I probably still enjoy most my run / walks at the lake. It is so amazing to see all the people out and about on bikes, running, walking - just being healthy. I love smiling and saying hi as people go by.


Ladies - we’d love for you to join us! We hope you’ll check out our Coaching and Career options here on the website and come along for the ride!

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