Team Athletic Mentors News

Barry Roubaix – Women’s Race Report

March 23rd, 2014 by Roxane Kippen, USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Barry Roubaix has quickly become the largest gravel road race in America and it is held right here in West Michigan every March. Conditions over the past few years have ranged from 50 degrees and dry, to 19 degrees and icy. The 2014 race, held this past weekend, was somewhere in between at 33 degrees with some mud. Read the rest of this entry »

Forbrush 17k Freestyle Race Report

March 2nd, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

Kaitlyn Patterson crossing the finish line (photo courtesy of

Nordic skiers Kaitlyn Patterson and Ryan Harris represented Athletic Mentors well at the Forbrush Corner 17k Freestyle on February 15. With temperatures above zero, sunny skies and minimal wind, the participants received a great day for competition success. The Forbrush Corner track is filled with hills, creating a tough, always climbing or descending course. Kaitlyn dominated the race with a first place finish while Harris had an intense battle that landed him third place.

The men’s start was a little rough out of the gate given a few crashes before the first turn and during the wide climb. Skiers were ultra aggressive in getting to the front. Ryan Harris, alongside two other racers, broke away from the pack and had a clear lead, already minutes ahead of any other competitors. At the finish, Ryan was just barely beat by the two competitors; only two seconds separated first thru third place. He finished third with a time of 50:12.

The women’s top three was fairly tight as well, given the 40-second separation of the three places. Kaitlyn led the pack and performed at a fast pace, finishing first for the women and only ten minutes behind the men’s winner with a time of 60:10.

Kaitlyn credits part of her fast performance to the new, RCS Carbonlite hole skis she invested in during the middle of the season. Her new skis are ultra-light, responsive and overall give a faster feel.

“As much as I wanted to think that a strong engine can overcome sub-par equipment, I finally admitted that skis matter a lot in Nordic skiing,” she said. “Even with a warm base structure on cold races, they made a huge difference.”

Kaitlyn felt that she finally put everything together ‚Äî the powerhouse she’s been creating in training felt good and coupled with her new skis, she raced very well.

Although 5 degree weather doesn’t seem warm, competitors were relieved that the conditions were far less brutal than the VASA race the previous weekend, where the temperatures reached several degrees below zero. It was enjoyed enough that according to Kaitlyn, the sun gave ample warmth for post-race food and drinks on the patio.

“Overall, another great day of racing in Northern Michigan,” Kaitlyn said.

Who Is a “Professional” Athlete?

February 22nd, 2014 by tritter

You might be a professional athlete without realizing it. One definition offered by the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession”. Further, it defines a profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”, another way of saying a profession is a job. Seriousness of conduct is at a higher level then what one would approach with a hobby. Though we don’t race for a living, everyone on a team benefits from professionalism. Here are a few ways to be “professional” and how it positively impacts yourself and the team.

Full Team

Athletic Mentors teams pride themselves on professional appearance and conduct.

Sharp Dressed (Wo)man

Nothing says “conforming to the technical” like a group that looks the same. More than matching jerseys and bibs, a truly professional look synchs socks, helmets, accessory equipment (glasses, gloves, shoe covers, bikes, etc.) and even cool weather wear. It’s imperative riders maintain a clean bike and kit. Team Athletic Mentors’ management puts a lot of attention and effort towards projecting a brand and we all have a role in that.

Take Pride in Your Team

A professionally run team establishes a vision and follows it. TAM has looked to develop riders. Some have gone on to higher ranks, even the ProTour. As a member of the team, you are part of that legacy. When other riders see you they see a team with high standards and a history of success. You have been chosen to continue an image, so take pride. This pride is not just racing or riding in your kit, but wearing the team casual wear during cycling and promotional events.

Team Mates and Sponsors First

Being professional means holding up your end of a bargain. Part of this is supporting the sponsors that provide resources to the team. Take every opportunity to promote sponsors’ products, keeping negative assessments within the team. Following through on your contractual agreements maintains the team’s ability to keep and hold sponsors. Think of your actions as reflecting those on your jersey and in your jersey.

Be an Ambassador

True professionals take responsibility to foster their livelihood. At our level, that means promoting the sport we love. Be approachable by strangers. Look to help more novice racers. Get in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t genetic freaks destine for greatness in cycling, but, rather, people passionate about a sport. Project that passion by supporting it any positive way so people see it means something to someone.

Make a Good First Impression IMG_0674

A professional conducts themselves at a high character level consistently. Sharp looking, organized teams get noticed, which makes the need to act your best even more important. Maintain an even keel during the heat of racing. Communicate with others through social media, in person, or other means, as if the spot light was always on. This includes when giving our opinion with race officials and promoters. Don’t forget having your attire leave no doubt who you race for while on the podium.

Add Value to Your Team

A well run team has a lot of moving pieces. Those pieces working in concert are what make an organization better than the sum of its parts. Try to look for ways to help, even if it’s just to offer your assistance. Most athletes have an expertise in some area(s), even if it’s just time, that can benefit everyone. Few good things happen by chance, but through effort by someone that cared.

Support Your Team Mates

One quality of a good team is people want to be a part of it. This usually isn’t the clothes they get, bikes they ride or deals offered. It comes down to feeling part of something where they are supported. Giving assistance, passing on knowledge, watching a fellow team mate and cheering them on are part of this support. It’s always best to feel we can share our triumphs and tragedies.

VASA Race Report

February 21st, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

Daniel Yankus competing in a cross country ski race.

On February 8, Team Athletic Mentors Nordic Ski racers Alex Vanias, Daniel Yankus, Ryan Halstead and Kaitlyn Patterson competed in the VASA 50k freestyle race. The race start temperature was in the negatives, far undercutting the forecasted temperature of 10 degrees and provided cold, bitter conditions.

There were 69 racers, and as usual, Athletic Mentors racers finished on top. Alex finished second in a time of 2:29:12, Dan took fourth in 2:37:50, Ryan came in 10th in 2:46:23, and Kaitlyn finished third in the women’s field (24th overall) with a time of 3:06:30. The main heat of the race was between winner Eli Brown and Alex.

Complications began the night before when Kaitlyn and Alex stayed up until midnight waxing their skis, only to realize it had been the wrong wax. After testing their skis, however, they didn’t feel too sticky on the abrasive snow. The warmer wax they had used could have been completely removed during the race, which leads to a significant speed decline.

As the race approached, the crew did a few warm-up laps and found the start line. The race began fast, as usual, and Alex stayed in a content position in the back of the lead group strategizing a time to attack and go to the front. Daniel, Ryan and Kaitlyn settled in comfortable positions among their competitors. Eli, the race favorite, kept the race aggressive; he attacked at the 5k and created a large gap between the rest of the racers, making it difficult for anyone to close in and chase him. Alex was determined, however, and did his best to catch up and challenge him for the rest of the race.

The pain set in and the mind games began. Between Eli and Alex up front, the two skiers were pretending to not be tired, keeping things dynamic and competitive. Alex said that from prior experience, he knew Eli was a strong finisher and that he must take the lead and wear him down in order to prevent him from getting any rest.

“We would event come to nearly complete stops trying to get each other to take the lead,” Alex said.

The rest of the crew was not far behind but experienced some difficulty. Dan mentioned that his skis were not gliding well, which set him in a less competitive position.

Up front, a third racer named Milan Biac joined Alex and Eli, and closed in gaps with his fast skis. After executing a planned attack on “the wall” with roughly half a lap left, Alex dropped Milan but couldn’t rid Eli. Alex kept pushing the pace in hope of cracking his competitor’s exhaustion. Unfortunately, Alex hit an obstacle that slowed him down, widening the gap between him and Eli.

“My plan backfired when I bonked on the Jack Pine section up a giant hill,” Alex said. “I just kept pushing. All I could do now was pretend to still have strength, but I knew it was over.”

With 1/2k to go, Eli muscled up a sprint far beyond Alex’s pace and earned his first place position. Alex glided in easy for second place, followed by his teammates not far behind. The whole team had solid individual performances and is already looking forward to next year’s race.

Michigan’s Premier Elite Multi-Sport Teams win OAM NOW Title Sponsorship

January 17th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors
Watch for Team OAM NOW at multisport and endurance events throughout Michigan.

Watch for Team OAM NOW at multisport and endurance events throughout Michigan.

Elite cyclists, runners, tri-athletes and Nordic ski athletes in West Michigan will be hitting the trails in 2014 sporting a new title sponsor from West Michigan health innovator OAM NOW.

The team’s management company, Athletic Mentors LLC, announced the co-titling partnership with OAM NOW, a provider of Urgent Orthopaedic Care and supported by the OAM Sports Medicine Institute, both operated by Othopaedic Associates of Michigan. The multi-sport team program, formerly sponsored by Priority Health, has won national and international attention for the athletes it has developed in a variety of events. Two out of six American Tour de France cyclists are program alumni. The team’s athletes have made numerous trips to the podium and one, Chris Gottwald, has even set the world record for the 100 mile timed trial. The team serves as a platform to get athletes started and when developed, helps them advance to national or pro-level programs.

“We’re excited to support athletic excellence in Michigan, and to extend this opportunity to Michigan’s youth and competition veterans alike. The team’s focus on character-building, integrity, quality and the promotion of healthy living in the community mirrors all the things important to OAM. We’re looking forward to great seasons to come,” said Patrick J. Reid, CEO of Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan.

Team OAM NOW Presented By Athletic Mentors is comprised of athletes competing in Cycling, Triathlon, Running and Nordic Skiing throughout the calendar year, with additional objectives to create a healthier community and develop young athletes in sports that are not typically available in the school system.

The racing and youth development program was first launched in 2006 to bring business and athletes together to achieve common objectives. The team’s top elite athletes not only compete, but also volunteer in schools and community events to promote healthy lifestyle and athletics.

“Many young athletes wouldn’t have access to such sports as triathlon or bike racing unless a parent or older sibling was already involved,” said Cheryl Sherwood, co-owner of Athletic Mentors and Director of the Multi-sport team.

“The sponsorship by OAM NOW will allow us to continue to support the growth of these young hopefuls and at the same time encourage and engage the community in healthy, active lifestyles throughout Michigan. Without this support we just couldn’t keep the program going. ”

Sherwood also noted the continued support of additional sponsors, Agility Physical Therapy, Grzanka Grit McDonald and Gauthier Family Homecare.

“We’re excited to bring together such a great family of sponsors,” she said.


OAM NOW is a program dedicated to providing urgent, specialized orthopaedic care requiring no wait and no referrals. The program features extended hours until 9 p.m., a dedicated triage nurse and on-site support services such as MRI and physical therapy and is the first of its kind in West Michigan. For more information, visit

OAM Sports Medicine Institute physicians are focused on athletes – from the little leaguer to the college quarterback, from the weekend warrior to the professional competitor. For more information, visit

Athletic Mentors LLC, is a west Michigan-based athletic training and sports management company that offers individual training, team training programs, clinics, elite hockey programs and sports management services. For more information about Athletic Mentors or becoming a supporter, visit

Press Contact:

Cheryl Sherwood Olson
Athletic Mentors LLC
O: 269.664.6912
C: 269.491.2488

AM Athlete & Priority Health Elite Captain Headed to Indy to Break World Record in 100 Mile Track Timed Trial

July 2nd, 2013 by Athletic Mentors

gottwaldmotionKudos to Chris – We’ll be cheering you on! If you can make it to Indianapolis Friday, July 5th, join the fun at the Major Taylor Velodrome, 6 p.m., to watch Chris break the world record. Whether you can make it or not, please check out to make a donation to the cause he’s riding for!

Chris Gottwald knows there are worse ways to spend four hours than the brutal, high-intensity push through the centrifugal force of the velodrome. He could be watching a child die in Africa from a lack of clean drinking water.

The 42-year-old national cycling sensation is taking on the World Record for 100 Mile Track Timed Trial Friday, July 5 at the Indianapolis Major Taylor Velodrome. He plans to cycle like someone’s life depends on it.

“What motivates me is how lives can be impacted. Every 15 seconds somewhere in the world a child dies from not having clean drinking water. I think I can drill it for four hours to raise awareness of the global water crisis,” Gottwald said.

The self-described “guy next door,” pilot and father of two never dreamed as a kid he’d have a world-class cycling career. He just liked riding his BMX around the neighborhood as a 7-year-old boy in Marion, Indiana. By the time he was a senior in high school, he’d graduated to road bikes and blossomed. At Purdue, he began to compete at a national level, and was named captain of the men’s cycling team. But Gottwald never suspected his greatest cycling accomplishments would come much later in life.

Just 8 years ago at the age of 34, Gottwald rode his first Race Across America after an old cycling pal coaxed him into signing up. The pair “waxed it” with second place. They pedaled from the Pacific to the Atlantic — in 7 days, 7 hours and 7 minutes! — covering 3,000 miles and over 100,000 feet of climbing over two mountain ranges. The next year, he rode solo, and was named “Rookie of the Year.”

Last year, Gottwald repeated RAAM solo to raise money for ActiveWater. Riding 22 hours a day with 90-minutes stops for sleep, pushing himself further – and faster – than ever before takes fight.

“Things are a piece of cake after that. It totally changes your perspective on life. You become more emotional because you turn yourself inside out. You have to fight for it at that level,” Gottwald said.

His passion to inspire others to improve their lifestyle is what makes Gottwald an outstanding captain and a leading community mentor on the Priority Health elite cycling team, according to his team manager at Athletic Mentors.

“Chris is not only an outstanding athlete; he’s an inspiration to everyone around him. He celebrates the accomplishments of his team members and always has a positive contribution to make to the team and the community. It’s the stuff leadership is made of,” said Cheryl Olson.

Gottwald’s coach, Mark Olson, thinks Gottwald’s got a lock on the World Record, and teases him that he could break a world record on a “green machine.”

Gottwald admits he’s a bit nervous, but says he’s cool with whatever happens, and refers to Friday as his “first” attempt, suggesting there will be others.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself,” he said.

“If I make it, I want people to go after my record.

More than anything, he wants people to become more aware of the global water crisis, and to show him the “love” by making a donation to, which supports projects that bring community wells and related projects to life in underdeveloped countries.

From Gottwald’s vantage, cycling has given him everything; and it’s his way to give back.

“Cycling is an instrument for making a difference. My legs are the tools I’ve been given.”

Download Chris’s Flyer for the TT Event: (Click on Image)



Join Athletic Mentors at Gran Fondo & You Might Be Riding With a World Record Holder

June 24th, 2013 by Athletic Mentors

chris gottwoldGearing Up for Gran Fondo Saturday June 29th

Whether you’re riding to condition for a 2013 World Record attempt like national cycling sensation, Chris Gottwald, or taking the family out for a Euro-style leisure ride and epicurean wander, Team Priority Health & Athletic Mentors staff will be there to ride or guide all comers to Grand Rapid’s inaugural Gran Fondo next Saturday, June 29th.

Gran Fondo means “big ride” and for Michigan, it’s a big deal. Proceeds of the ride benefit skin cancer research at MSU. The event also shines the light on local breweries and Michigan-made food during the Gears for Beers Microwbrew & Music Festival. It promises to be a perennial favorite for its high-fun-quotient and low entry bar, with a 12 mile “family ride,” a medium 40-mile course, or an 80 mile race/ride to Lake Michigan.

For Team Priority Health Elite Team Captain Chris Gottwald, it’s a chance to ride for fun and a bit of conditioning before attempting a world speed record July 5th at the Indianapolis Velodrome for 100-mile timed trials. Gottwald put Michigan on the worldwide cycling map with his 3,000-mile Race Across America “Cyclist of the Year” title, and most recently led the PH Elite team to total victory in West Branch. No stranger to the podium since his early days on the Purdue cycling team and owner of his 3rd consecutive King of the Mountain title, the 42-year-old pilot calls his imminent effort his “first attempt” at the World Record, which will benefit the global water crisis through an organization called Active Water.

“What I really want is for people to be inspired. If I can do this, so can they. I’m just the guy next door…What motivates me is how lives can be impacted. Every 15 seconds a child dies somewhere in the world because they don’t have clean drinking water. So it’s really not so hard to drill it for four hours and 480 laps in a velodrome by comparison,” Gottwald said of the record attempt. (To donate or learn more, follow this link.)

By comparison, the Gran Fondo will be downright fun. Gottwald is hoping his 11-year-old daughter, Gigi, rides the 12 mile, and plans to kibbutz with fellow cyclists and newcomers to the sport.

“It’s an outstanding opportunity to experience the joys of riding and the great sense of satisfaction you get raising money and awareness for a good cause. That’s what kept me going in the Race Across America, and that what makes the Gran Fondo a “don’t miss” event,” said Gottwald.

Athletic Mentors co-founder and multisport coach, Cheryl Olson, manages Team Priority Health and recently ran a clinic to help registrants get ready to ride.
“The best part about Gran Fondo is that there is a course for every level of participant, right down to a casual family 12-mile ride,” says Olson. She credits the mass-participation and recreational nature of the Gran Fondo as causing the burgeoning popularity of the format. Grand Fondos events are springing up worldwide.

“Priority Health chose to be a title sponsor not only because of the very worthy cause, but because it gives the whole family the opportunity to get active and create a starting point for healthy living.”

Olson says the free registration for children under 12 and the European flavor of the family-oriented portion of the ride are great ways to introduce young people to endurance sports, a goal close to the hearts of her athletes and their community outreach efforts.

“Everyone should experience the camaraderie and exhilaration of a great ride. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day,” she said. “If we want our kids off the couch, we have to show them the way!”

Fast Facts About the Gran Fondo

• 12 Mile family ride
• 40 Mile ride
• 80 Mile ride

Event Schedule
8:00 a.m. – Start for the 40-mile and 80-mile rides
9:30 a.m. – Start for the 12-mile family ride
Afternoon – After Sparty at the B.O.B. – Gears for Beers with Michigan microbrews and wine sampling, amazing street food stations and great live music
Afternoon – Herman Miller Brickyard Classic (nearby location)
Post event – Electronic timing and ride results posted at
To Register, or Learn More:

Congratulations to AM Athletes Showing Great Gains at the GR Tri!

June 24th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

After several months of hard work this winter and spring several Athletic Mentors athletes achieved their goals at the Grand Rapids Triathlon. Commitment, discipline and perseverance pay off! Congratulations!


Danielle Nye placed 1st in the 25-29 age group


Mike Steele had a 42 minute PR(personal record) for the Half Iron distance, accomplishing his goal time for the day


Jeff Towner had a PR over his results at the Grand Rapids half iron a year ago

Team Priority Health Trains with Athletic Mentors

December 20th, 2012 by Cheryl Sherwood

Check it out…. This weekend the Priority Health Women began Phase 2 of their winter strength program. They meet every 6 weeks at the Athletic Mentors gym for instruction Read the rest of this entry »

Team Priority Health Outing

October 28th, 2011 by Athletic Mentors
Team and Club members enjoyed a nice outing on Saturday October 22nd at the Athletic Mentors facility in Delton. A large group launched in the morning for a spirited ride on gravel roads over much of the Barry-Roubaix Gravel Road Race course. It was brisk at the start but it didn’t take long to encounter steep hills that caused some wardrobe adjustments. A special acknowledgement goes to Jeff Mira, from our Running Team, who completed the 39 mile hilly loop on his Mountain bike and then announced that his longest previous rice had been 26 miles. But Jeff was strong and moving well despite this 50% increase in mileage.
After the ride we were joined by spouses and treated to a cookout and prize distribution while we enjoyed the late October sunshine. Thanks to Cheryl Olson for arranging and hosting this gathering. A good time was had by all.