Mindy Reich has been coaching SelecTRI The Woodlands, a local youth and junior triathlon team, since 2001, and has seen many of her athletes accomplish their personal goals over the years.

In order to continue the improvement of the program, Reich and SelecTRI recently made a move - a merger with adult multi-sport training group South Coast Endurance - which will not only provide athletes with a wider array of coaching experience and guidance, but also attract more corporate sponsors.

The team was also recently given recognition as a USA Triathlon High Performance Team, the only youth and junior team in the area to receive the distinction.

SelecTRI, which initially got its start as The Woodlands High School Triathlon Team, focuses on not only developing young people athletically, but also developing their self-esteem and discipline.

"When I joined, I remember I couldn't even run a mile," said 14-year-old team member Dany Braniff. "Now I can run nine to 10 miles, and that's something I never thought would be possible, and I'm really proud of that.”

According to 16-year-old team member Tyler Henthorn, whose twin brother Zachary is also on the team, competing in triathlons is a great opportunity for people who might not be interested in team sports, or for people who just want to challenge themselves.

"It was something different because we decided we weren't team sport kind of people," he said. "We're very individual type of people, so we really enjoy triathlons because it's all about yourself and personal growth and how you actually move forward as a person. You really develop over time how you can be a greater person and a greater athlete."

Many of the athletes on the SelecTRI team start at an early age, including 8-year-old Auldyn Plant, who said her favorite part of doing triathlons is crossing the finish line after a long race.

“I like the run the best because you’re almost done and by the time you’re on the run, you can sometimes hear the cheering and you’re all happy,” said Auldyn, who started competing in triathlons with her older sister Callan about a year ago.

Some of the challenges of being on a triathlon team include waking up early in the morning before school to train and battling with the weather, according to 14-year-old team member Dany Garza.

“When you’re out doing the triathlon and you’re sweating and it’s so hot, you feel like you just want to stop and end it right then, but you know you have to keep going,” said Dany, whose younger brother Rodrigo is also on the team.

The athletes on SelecTRI team range from elementary school to high school, and even though some of them might be on different levels of training and ability, they are all dedicated to supporting each other in all of their athletic ventures.

Reich said it was her goal to establish a program that concentrates not only on companionship and worth ethic, but also promoting a way a living that will serve the kids well in the long run.

“These kids can learn this and grow and they can be 100 years old still doing it,” Reich said. “They can do it for the rest of their lives. The main reason we’re here is to live that healthy lifestyle.”