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“TRI…and you can MASTER anything in life.”

We seek to foster the life-long benefits of a healthy body and disciplined mind by promoting the fun and challenging sport of triathlon. Our special purpose is to encourage and support triathlon participation among youth within the African-American and Latino-American communities, but we encourage membership for all interested individuals without regard to race, creed, color or national origin.


The Tri-Masters Sports Initiative Programs’ mission is to expose inner-city youth and families to the benefits of healthy living through the sport of triathlon. The programs’ goals are to:

  • Facilitate multicultural communication through participation in public sporting events
  • Develop leadership abilities among program youth
  • Identify practical approaches to implementing alcohol/tobacco/drug prevention education
  • Provide physical activities to reduce youth obesity within target communities


Since 1992, the program has trained more than 2,500 youth athletes on the fundamentals required to compete in the sport of triathlon. Program participants have competed locally, nationally and internationally in numerous triathlon and running events. As a testament to the life-long impact of the programs, literally hundreds of Tri-Masters alumni have returned to volunteer at camps and events, helping coach up the next generation of aspiring youth triathletes.



In 1992, with the support of then Chicago State University President Dr. Dolores Cross (also an avid marathon runner) and an initial start-up grant from the Chicago Community Trust, Lyles founded the Tri-Masters Youth Sports Initiative Program at Chicago State University. This beginning, with 30 youth athletes, was the foundation for the continuation and growth of today's programs.

Tri-Masters Programs currently consist of a youth triathlon-training program, two adult triathlon training programs, a marathon-training program and a cadre of race volunteers who assist in running and triathlon events throughout the Chicago area. In addition, there are partnerships with a community running club, a senior swim program, an infant swim program and a teen swim team.

This program has affiliations with one of the largest cohorts of African-American athletes in the Midwest, and includes athletes of all races in leadership and volunteer roles. As the life’s work of its founder, Bernard Lyles, the program served as an opportunity to create a safe haven for children who are economically disadvantaged, have witnessed community violence and may live in environments replete with alcohol and illicit drugs. The program teaches youth that their accomplishments are limited only by their dreams and perseverance.

The program has allowed the 5X IRONMAN World Champion and other world-class athletes to host swim workshops and life skills workshops for participants, while also exposing these youth to community business professionals who make fitness a major part of their lives.

Tri-Masters has shown more than 2,500 inner-city youth that the world is full of opportunities if you persevere and prepare. The program’s motto is “Tri and you can master anything in life.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the eyes of the program’s youth.


During the summer, Tri-Masters produces a seven-week summer day camp that serves up to 100 youth.  During the school year, Tri-Masters continues training youth through afterschool programs based in various schools in Chicago’s South Shore area.  Each afterschool program trains between 20 to 40 youth one day per week.