Team Blaze triathlon coach Scott Roy often told his athletes to “enjoy the journey.”
A race, even an Ironman, doesn’t last long compared to the hours of training it takes to get there. And crossing the finish line takes only a moment. That’s why Roy constantly encouraged Team Blaze members to enjoy their training, their families and the process of achieving their goals.
It’s a philosophy Roy modeled until the day he died. On April 29, Roy, 38, went into sudden cardiac arrest and did not respond to CPR or other medical efforts to revive him.
“He lived life to the fullest,” said his wife, Tristin Olson-Roy. “Enjoy every day you’re here because you never know.”
In a 2011 promotional video Roy said, “Most important, and I say this all the time to the members, is enjoy the journey. I think that you can talk about best times and you can talk about losing weight and all that, but you have to have fun with what you’re doing.”
After swimming competitively at Linfield College in the ’90s, Roy turned to triathlons to lose the weight he’d gained after graduating. Soon the sport became a lifestyle. He and Olson-Roy married and moved to Hawaii in 2000 where they joined triathlon club Team Jet Hawaii and became coaches.
When they moved to Spokane in 2003, the couple missed the club; to replicate it, they launched Team Blaze in 2004. “We wanted something like Team Jet here. There wasn’t anything like it,” said Olson-Roy.
“The first year there weren’t many people,” she said. “The second year it exploded.”
Now the club has almost 250 athletes of varying abilities, growing with only word-of-mouth advertising. Members say it’s due to the positive and encouraging atmosphere fostered by the couple.
“If Scott and Tristin weren’t here, my wife and I probably wouldn’t have continued with triathlon and moved into this different lifestyle of exercise,” said Tobin Smail. “He always made you feel welcome and that you’re important and mean something. He always had that effect on people. … That’s what made him such a great coach.”
“He wanted a place for people to feel comfortable, whether you’re fast or slow,” said Team Blaze board member John Martinek. “He believed in everybody. No matter what talents you had, he believed you could do it.”
Members also said Roy demonstrated how to balance triathlon training with family and work commitments.
“Scott enjoyed the journey because he had his priorities straight. He put his family first,” said neighbor and running partner Daniel Zwiesler. “He was the one that was home all the time to put his son to bed. … You can’t enjoy the journey if you are taking away from your family the time you are working out. It was always family first.”
Olson-Roy said, “He coached Reece’s soccer team and Reece would ride his bike with us. He put Reece to bed every night, read him stories and helped him with homework. … He was a hands-on dad.”
Next to family, Roy was known for building relationships within the club and on top of a full-time job he spent about 15 hours a week coaching and encouraging the members. “He had a love for coaching and helping people. That was his drive,” Olson-Roy said.
“We had 160 members but he knew the statistics of everybody’s goal and where they were at,” Martinek said. “He knew exactly where you needed to be and he could pick one thing in that event and compliment you on it.”
“He was a big encourager. That’s what he did more than anything,” Zwiesler said. “He loved helping people. He really cherished seeing who he’d been training cross the finish line.”
As an athlete, Team Blaze members said Roy was inspirational. He completed more than 75 endurance events including 15 marathons and four Ironman competitions, running the Chicago marathon in less than three hours and finishing the 2005 Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 10 hours 25 minutes.
He also demonstrated perseverance after a setback. Roy had heart surgery in 2010 to replace his mitral valve. He eased back into training and completed another Ironman in 2011 while pacing one of his senior athletes during her first Ironman event.
“He said it was his best Ironman even though it was his slowest,” said Olson-Roy, adding that Roy felt stronger each day and aimed to race to the best of his ability at Ironman Arizona this November. She will do the event as a tribute to him, she said, and his ability to enjoy the journey while encouraging others to do the same.