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For Edgeworth family, sporting success starts young

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 8:11 p.m.
Ryder Fetterolf, 5, at left, and siblings Hunter, 9, and Hannah, 8, pose for a photo with their bicycles at their Edgeworth home Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. The children participated in several triathlons over the summer, most recently in Chicago.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Ryder Fetterolf, 5, at left, and siblings Hunter, 9, and Hannah, 8, pose for a photo with their bicycles at their Edgeworth home Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. The children participated in several triathlons over the summer, most recently in Chicago.

Jennifer Fetterolf said she and her husband, Brian, think their three young children are learning a lot about life through their involvement in sports.

The Fetterolf siblings — Hunter, 9; Hannah, 8; and Ryder, 5, of Edgeworth — compete in several triathlons each summer and try to increase the number of events almost every year — this summer to about 10.

“Sports are a metaphor on life. They are an important part of life, and they're a teaching tool. The kids learn that details matter, just like in life,” said Jennifer, who has participated in two marathons and earned a full basketball scholarship to Boston College.

Brian has participated in marathons and was on a crew team in college.

“They do three sports they love in one event, and the details of the transitions between each of them are almost as important as the event,” Jennifer said.

In some of their other sports activities — and in some instances through the triathlons — the children learn how to be a part of a team. They learn to overcome obstacles and to keep going, she said.

Last year, during the running start of the LifetimeTri Chicago Kids Triathlon, Hunter was pushed down in the water and had to get up with rows of other participants who were still running into the water. Later, his shoe lace got caught in his bike pedal, and he had to untangle it himself with the pressure of knowing other athletes were passing him.

But, he overcame those obstacles and ended up placing second in his age group, as did Hannah. In the same event held last week, Hunter, despite another fall, placed first in his age group and first overall, and Hannah placed first in her age group. The event, which consists of a 100-meter open swim in Lake Michigan, a 4K bike ride and a 1K run, drew more than 500 child athletes.

Hunter, a fourth-grader, and Hannah, a second-grader, have competed in two USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships in West Chester, Ohio.

This year, Hannah finished third in her division, and Hunter finished in the top 25 percent overall. They completed a 100-meter swim, 5K bike and 1K run.

Last year, Hannah placed second in her age group, and Hunter placed eighth. Next year, Hunter will be racing in the longer distances — about twice the distance he raced this year.

Early last month, Hannah received first place in her age group and Ryder was sixth in his age group in the North Park Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh Kids Triathlon. Hunter had to miss it because he was competing in a hockey tournament in Toronto. In another Habitat race, held in South Park in July, Ryder placed fifth in his age group, and Hannah and Hunter placed first in their age groups.

Ryder, who did his first small triathlon when he was 3, officially joined his siblings on the triathlon path last year.

At times, he will compete in an older age group, because there is no group that young, his mother said. “I like competing against other people and seeing what I can push myself to do physically and mentally,” said Hunter, who plays hockey for QV Futures and for Pittsburgh Airport Aviators Squirt travel team.

Hannah and Ryder will play in the Mites division of the Island Colonials Youth House League at Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, for RMU's in-house hockey league. All three children will swim on the Sewickley Valley YMCA Sea Dragons swim team.

Hannah plans to continue gymnastics in fall at Perfect 10 Gymnastics in Ambridge, and all three children are on or will be on swim teams at Woodland Swim Club.

Hannah said of all her activities, she likes biking the best simply because “I really like to ride.”

Ryder, a kindergarten student, said he also likes biking — because “I can go very fast.”

Jennifer, who is expecting her fourth child, said biking is a sport the family enjoys together. She often rides with her children to and from Edgeworth Elementary School.

There is no set schedule for the Fetterolf children to train, their mother said. They keep active by biking a lot and running around on the soccer field, although Hunter often will take off and run on his own.

Their mother said none of the children ever has been pushed to participate in any sport.

“We tell them what's out there, and they want to do it. I don't think they've ever met an athletic activity they haven't wanted to try,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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