Swim coach turns athletic quest into fundraising mission

Sometimes, Matt Woods wonders why he took up competing in triathlons. The miles and miles of running, biking and swimming can be grueling. Dragging his butt out for another 6-hour bike ride can seem like torture. But he has a little extra motivation as he trains for his next triathlon in June: Schreiber kiddos.
Matt grew up in a family that played sports. It seemed there was always a game of football or basketball going on. He ended up getting into competitive swimming and swam in college at Lebanon Valley. He’s now the swimming coach at his former high school, Cocalico.
After he graduated from LVC in 2007, one of his swimming buddies talked him into trying a sprint triathlon in Harrisburg. That led to his first Ironman-style triathlon last year in Atlantic City, N.J. An Ironman triathlon requires competitors to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full 26.2-mile marathon, all in one day. That might seem a little daunting to most people (to say the least). But Matt was already hooked.
“I like the community in triathlons,” Matt said. “There’s definitely competition and pushing yourself. But at the same time people pull for each other, you have volunteers helping you. It’s definitely a different type vibe.”
He managed to finish last year, and after the race he and his wife Katie, a Schreiber speech therapist, talked about whether to do it again this year. He said he had noticed a lot of the athletes use their racing to raise awareness or raise money for various things.
“I said if I did it again, I’d want to do something to raise money,” Matt said. “Eventually, I thought it would be a great idea to do something for Schreiber. I know a lot about it through Katie. I knew about all the great work (they do) with kids. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about (Schreiber) had nothing but great things to say. So I thought I could try to raise some money and, if nothing else, raise awareness.”
And having a cause to support also helps stay motivated on those I’m-not-sure-if-I-can-do-this days.
“Absolutely, it helps,” he said. “People contacting me and saying really nice things about Schreiber and about me gives you a definite boost and motivates you and reminds you that what you’re doing makes a difference or helps the cause in some small way.”