History of Atlanta Tri Sisters, Inc.
by Julie M.T. Walker, Founder and CEO

At age 54, on April 25, 2009, I completed my first Triathlon, the Meek & Mighty, a beginner pool Triathlon at St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida. My motivation for this came from two places. One was from Lovette "Lovie" Russell, a seasoned Triathlete with the best body any female would dream to have. I asked her, “if I do this Triathlon, will my body look like your body?” “Absolutely Julie,” was her answer. The other was the desire to become physically fit in preparation for my impending kidney transplant. Coach Lovette had already recruited her girlfriends who were in their late twenties and thirties. I invited myself and recruited my law school friend, Beverly, to participate in the training with Lovette’s group. There were eight ladies, including the current Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, as well as Lovette’s oldest son. Our group, ranging in age from 15 to 55, was known as Lovie’s Tri Divas. During our training season, we had weekly swim training sessions with the Peachtree Tri Club on Monday evenings at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. There was no formal training program for the bike and run, so we all trained for those events on our own.

Completing my first Triathlon was exhilarating. It ignited my passion for the sport and the desire to introduce Black women to the sport of Triathlon. I wanted them to experience the same benefits that I had - physical fitness, increased confidence, and a sense of accomplishment and well-being. After my kidney transplant surgery in 2010, followed by surgery to remove my native diseased kidneys in 2011, at age 58, I motivated six other women, ages 14 to 59, to join me in training for what is now known as the Atlanta Tri Sisters Class of 2013.

The inaugural seven participants of Atlanta Tri Sisters, Inc. (formerly known as Atlanta Tri Divas), were Motivation Coach Julie M. T. Walker age 58, Beverly Iseghohi age 59, Denise Whiting-Pack age 60, Renata Turner age 44, Kristin Hall age 42, Candice McKinley age 34, and Sydney Turner, daughter of Renata, age 14. Our inaugural Triathlon Coach Drellie Bashir, was selected by Coach Sabir Muhammad, a retired member of the USA National Swim Team. Our Triathlon swim, bike, and run training site was the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA. The six-month training program began in October 2012 and ended in April 2013. On April 27, 2013, Denise, Renata, Kristin, Candice, and Sydney completed their first St. Anthony's Triathlon, the Meek & Mighty. Beverly and I completed our second Meek & Mighty Triathlon.

Spirit of Multisport Award: Julie Walker (Atlanta, Ga.)

Julie Walker is the recipient of the 2019 Spirit of Multisport Award, which recognizes individuals who illustrate the positive spirit of multisport through acts of sportsmanship and leadership, with no deference to athletic ability. A passionate and tireless advocate for her community, Walker has devoted her efforts to introducing women of color to the world of triathlon.

Walker, an accomplished attorney and judge in the state of Georgia, competed in her first triathlon in 2009. She is the founder of Atlanta Tri Sisters (ATS), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to introduce the sport of triathlon to the black community to positively impact participants’ health and fitness. Walker has successfully grown ATS from seven members in 2013 to more than 65 in 2020.

Walker’s passion for the sport is undeniable. She lives by the ATS motto, which is, “It seems impossible … until it’s done.” A relentless motivational coach, she encourages and inspires her club members to find the hidden potential within themselves. Outside of ATS, Walker volunteers with the Young YMCA Kid’s Triathlon Team, a seven-week training program that prepares inner-city youth to compete in the Atlanta Kids Triathlon.

ATS is realizing its mission, which is to introduce the sport of Triathlon to the Black community to positively impact health and fitness. As of the 2020 Triathlon season, ATS is over 60 members strong and growing. We range in age from 20s to early 70s and recruits come to ATS at all levels of fitness and abilities. Our formal training program, led by USA Triathlon Certified Level II Coach Kevin Samuels, assures that all participants can be ready to tackle and complete their Triathlon goals. Now we have athletes participating at every level St. Anthony’s Triathlon has to offer - Meek and Mighty, as well as Sprint and Olympic distances which are both open water swims. Our beginner athletes start with the Meek and Mighty and over time work their way to Sprint and Olympic Triathlons, as I have. I am proud to now call myself an Olympic Distance Triathlete.

Though not yet formal, the ATS reach extends beyond metro Atlanta. ATS family members across the country, from New York to California, have begun training for and competing in Triathlons, putting ATS one step closer to its goal of impacting health worldwide through the sport of Triathlon.