Spreading sustainability and taking on a challenge: learn about the goals of two more Team Waco members

Michaela McCown is looking forward to spreading awareness about sustainability and challenging herself.
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 6:27 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Waco will host Ironman races for the next seven years, and the Greater Waco Sports Commission wanted to find a way to help the community get to know some of the athletes and help support them.

To do that, it launched a scholarship program to create Team Waco. The commission partnered with local businesses to provide scholarships for six people to compete. The scholarships help with everything from the entry fee training to equipment.

Mike Vogelaar, executive director of the commission, said they decided to launch the program in January and there were 38 applicants. Ultimately 11 were interviewed before they chose six winners.

Vogelaar said the idea is for the community to rally around Team Waco and cheer them on.

“I think that this is really just going to help bring the community together from all sorts of parts of town, so that when the Ironman does happen in October, people are really dialed in, they are excited,” Vogelaar said. “They’re going to be able to see the magic and everything about what that event is in each one of these individual lives there in the middle of October.”

Michaela McCown is one of the recipients, who is competing in the full Ironman. She teaches environmental science at McLennan Community College, and it was one of her co-workers who told her about the scholarship.

McCown wasn’t sure she wanted to apply, but she decided to go ahead. Now, she’s excited about the opportunity to challenge herself and improve sustainability in the Ironman and other local races.

“That is actually what I’m most excited about,” McCown said. “Just using running and cycling as a platform to increase awareness about our environment, because those sports, do you really take advantage of the outdoors, and we need to continue protecting those resources.”

McCown said she’s been into cycling for a number of years, and recently started running--she finished a half marathon last year. While she’s competing in the full Ironman, which involves a full marathon, she said that’s thanks to the support of the scholarship and group.

Caleb Scarbrough is also competing in the full Ironman. He is a local engineer who loves to challenge himself and test his limits. Scarbrough said that started several years ago, when he began hiking with a friend. After training for a marathon, Scarbrough was looking for his next challenge, and he set his sights on the Ironman.

He said it seems like the perfect sport, with the mix of swimming, running and biking. Scarbrough said the financial and other support from the scholarship is what makes this race possible.

“You have this group who’s there to help support you and push you. If you’re feeling down, they can definitely be there to help you,” Scarbrough said. “So I think it’s really awesome that they’re doing that. They bring in a whole bunch of different knowledge and experiences that can really help you just thrive.”

McCown and Scarbrough are joining Jessie Patterson and Erika Sutton in competing in October. You can follow their progress on the Greater Waco Sports Commission’s Instagram and Facebook and at #TeamWaco.

Vogelaar said they plan to create merchandise and other ways to help support the team, because this is something they’d like to create for future competitions. The Ironman is in October.

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