Sonni Dyer started his journey as the head coach of the NCAA Triathlon team of women in 2014. From a cyclist to a triathlon player to the head coach of the NCAA women’s team, his journey is quite fascinating. He is giving his heart and soul to coaching these world-class athletes to win different championships.
In this episode, we will go over the journey of Sonni Dyer as a coach of a varsity women’s triathlon team in the NCAA, and his contribution to building superior teams. We will also discuss how the program started, along with other information you might find helpful.
Getting to know Sonni Dyer
Sonni Dyer is currently the head coach of the women’s NCAA varsity triathlon team at the Queen’s University of Charlotte. Moreover, he is the NCAA varsity trial coach of the six-time national champion Division Two women’s NCAA triathlon.
Sonni Dyer grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1986, he was the captain of a state-champion cross-country team. He went into cycling with the first race he ever won being a 100-mile race that concluded on the summit of Grandfather Mountain. However, he missed running and the multi-sport aspect of triathlons.
He ended up racing for a few years on the front end of the Olympic movement, from roughly 1989 to 2000, and up until 2003, competing in draft legal races professionally. Since 2003, he has been growing a coaching business.
Dyer has trained over 39 athletes over his thirteen years as Head Coach for Studio7Multisport (2006-2019). They won state, national, and international titles in long-course and short-course triathlon, track-and-field, cross country, and all cycling disciplines.
He didn’t accept the offer from Queens University at first. They eventually talked him into it. In 2014, he began recruiting. He recruited for one of our sport’s first women’s NCAA teams.
Why was Queens University interested in having a women’s triathlon program?
The plan of Queen’s University was simply to form a triathlon program. They knew what kind of student-athlete you’d get in terms of enrollment, GPA, and worldwide reach with a sport like a triathlon.
In 2014, USA Triathlon announced the start of the NCAA Trapani grant process.
Since they were already doing this, Sonni Dyer asked them to start with his team. And, they agreed. As a result, the Queens Triathlon team was one of the first grant-sponsored teams in the NCAA.
Are there changes in the number of women competing in triathlon since the start?
According to Sonni Dyer, they have seen an uptick in women competing in triathlons than in past years. This is in part because triathlons are a game of endurance. You don’t have to be excellent in any specific part. You can simply be good at swimming, running, and cycling. And, still, be an excellent triathlon athlete.
Triathlons are a lifetime sport. It is not uncommon for 50-60% of the parents of the team members to still be actively racing in a team. Most students who graduate continue participating in triathlons
Girls now have an opportunity to develop as 14-year-olds and go into a program like Queens. Or, they can also take part in one of the other 37 programs in the country. It gives them the chance to go to an outstanding school. Furthermore, it also allows them to receive a scholarship for their ability.
So, now that there is more opportunity, we can see much more of a balance between the females on the squad and the guys on the team at their 7 to 17-year old programs.
How does Sonni Dyer manage different athletes to win championships?
Sonni Dyer manages different athletes to win championships with the help of other people. This is not a one-person job and he is perhaps only the ringleader of the circus.
Sonni Dyer’s wife also contributes to the program as a coach. She works on travel itineraries, interacting with the parents, etc. They also have a physical therapist, strength coach, and an athletic trainer on campus. Moreover, they have athletic directors that are engaged in their process for sports media relations, and media releases.
Not only that but they also have a compliance director, as well as tutors. Since they have to train for three different sports, one single man can’t do the job. Sometimes they have to arrange 3-4 practices a day. And, thus, they require manpower to train the athletes to become extraordinary.
Sonni Dyer also has a full-time assistant coach, Myles Fowler. So, with the help of all these excellent people, he manages to coach the athletes to win championships.
How is Sonni Dyer keeping up with world-class caliber athletes?
Sonni Dyer participates in cycling with the women’s squad and as well as joining in for lengthy rides. On Tuesdays, they do a temple ride. In these rides, they focus on pace lines, strategy, tactics, cornering, and racing. They also strategize over different race scenarios.
He tries to get out on the bike with them as often as possible. This way he can see what gear they are in, how they are braking, how they are cornering, etc.
Although he will run with them, it is mostly on their easier days. He mainly focuses on his job as a coach so that he can train the athletes better rather than participating actively.
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It is tough to pinpoint exactly when triathlon became the sport that it is today. However, there is no confusion about the influence Sonni Dyer has had on the NCAA women’s triathlon program.