Brittany Warly is just one example that membership at Greenwood can lead to great things. On April 22, she helped her team, University of Colorado Boulder Triathlon Team, win their seventh consecutive national title and won her first individual USA Triathlon national title. She qualified for the World University Championships and will be representing the USA this August in Switzerland.
The 23 year old GATC member has even bigger plans as a professional athlete. She will train with the elite team PEAK Multisport at the US Olympic Training Center. Warly has been training under the guidance of Ken Axford (2015 USAT Development Coach of the Year) since she first started the sport four years ago. Her first elite race will be the CAMTRI U23 Sprint Championships in Des Moines on July 9.
Brittany and her three sisters practically grew up at Greenwood. David Solsberg and Dorothy Warly created opportunities for all of their daughters to explore a variety of athletics at Greenwood. At age 4, the triplets (Alexa, Brittany, Caroline) could be found on the tennis courts with Peggy Bernardis, while the eldest Danielle was pursuing musical theater and the arts.
I discovered my love for fitness at Greenwood. My parents gave each of us unlimited opportunities to discover our passion for a sport. We learned how to swim and play tennis. We did kick boxing, Tae Kwon Do and participated in many Kid’s Club activities. Yoga was something I picked up in high school and as I got older I learned to appreciate it more and more. I still practice in the midst of my competitive training schedule.
The fire and love of competitive training and workouts captured Brittany more than any of her other sisters. As a teenager (with the support of her mother traveling with her) she moved to Palm Springs, California to be part of a prestigious tennis academy run by Jose Higueras (former French Open semifinalist), followed by a move to Florida to train with the Hungarian federation national coach, Nandor Veres. For more about Brittany’s challenges in this phase of her life you can read this Rise and Grind article online.
Brittany returned home to Colorado while still in high school. She says: “As I grew older, I started to question what my real motivations [for playing tennis] were and I began to feel the desire of living a normal teenage life.” Exhausted from traveling to tournaments week after week while being a full-time student at Cherry Creek High School, she came down with mononucleosis.
While recovering from mono, Greenwood was the most positive part of my day. I did yoga during this time, a little swimming and had my introduction to triathlon training. I always felt better when I left GATC. The people at the club are like family to me. I would see the same people there on a daily basis, which was comforting.
My good friend Sonja Wieck and Jessica Vitcenda, (a mother of a HS Classmate) took me under their wing and introduced me to the Masters swimming group. I was in the slowest lane at first, but now I am in one of the fastest lanes. I felt so included even though most of the Masters swimmers were adults. The coaches were so willing to help me. That summer I competed in Stroke and Stride, Aquaman (a 750m swim and 5K run). I used this for cross training for tennis. I did my first triathlon shortly after and was hooked.
Brittany started college with a Division I tennis scholarship at Santa Clara University, but tennis just wasn’t where her heart was anymore. She switched to CU Boulder to finish her Mechanical Engineering degree while competing with the collegiate triathlon team. Competing for the CU Boulder Triathlon Team was by far the most positive experience in my collegiate career and I am so glad I made the choice to transfer. My best friends to this day come from that team. We are competitive, but we uplift each other.
Why did she select engineering? I was always good at math and science. It seemed the perfect route for me as a type A, hard worker. We sisters all were at the top of our class – Alexa in civil engineering and applied math, Caroline in bio and chemical engineering. My older sister Danielle is a lawyer in Grand Junction. It is safe to say that my family is pretty darn academic.
Greenwood is still my GoTo training gym in the Denver area. When I used to come home from school on the weekends at CU Boulder I would work out at GATC. Now I come to GATC when I come home from Colorado Springs. Mike Keirns, head physical therapist at GATC, has known me since I was 11 or 12. When I had a bad bike accident last July, Mike was the first doctor I approached. He knows me well and knew what my body could withstand; he gave me hope that I would recover fully and get back to competing. Now I am in my first pro-season, training around four hours/day. I enjoy yoga, playing the piano and singing. I also love writing and I have gotten a lot of encouragement and interest on my blog posts .
Brittany recognizes the support of her parents and sisters for her unusual teenage years. My mother practically had a full-time job traveling with me, even spending holidays on the road with me. My father (a radiologist) and sisters supported both my mother and me in making my training and competing possible.
There is no secret pill. There are days when I don’t want to train and I need to remind myself of the bigger picture; I am doing this sport because I love it and I enjoy meeting new people. I am a very social person and I have found my love with the endurance sports family; I feel I fit right into this community. Everyday I am proving to myself I am stronger. I can withstand more than I ever think. It is honest hard work seeking the next improvement always that encourages me to keep pushing. When I hit those moments in training or in a race when time ceases to exist and I’m “in the zone”, it is a spiritual experience that makes this all worth it. Fitness has really been the most balancing force in my life, and for that I am truly grateful.
Stay in touch by following Brittany on her ongoing journey through her blog, or social media Instagram: @bwarly, Twitter: @brittanywarly3.