Lynn Roman, 52
Lynn Roman stood smiling on the beach in Key Biscayne as dawn was breaking on the 2022 National Senior Games triathlon competition. We had to ask what was on her mind. “This is my first time to National Senior Games. I didn’t even know they existed a year ago!”
Having always been an active person, Lynn was relishing the thought that she can compete with others her age into the future. Basketball skills earned her a college scholarship as a shooting guard for Penn State, where her team made the NCAA tournament three out of her four years. That experience led to college coaching stints at Duquesne, Richmond and Robert Morris before the challenges between job and family led her to settle down to teach physical education and coach basketball in the Pittsburgh area for the past 18 years.
While hoops is her love, she discovered triathlon a few years after college and found a perfect fitness fit. “Swim-bike-run was pretty much how I got my fix for working out and it became my fix for competition.”
This tri was a bit different for her. “I didn’t know what to expect for competition. I had also never swum in salt water before and wondered about what the heat would be like. But the conditions were perfect, like a swim in the lake.”
She found there was one other woman in her 50-54 age group. “My competitor had obviously done national competitions with her USA Triathlon suit, and here I was in my Under Armor tights. I was going to do my best and that would be good enough.” Her efforts were good enough to win the gold medal with a time of 1:21:30.
The Pittsburgh connection is the reason Lynn even learned about the Games, which will be held there July 7-18, 2023. “One of my neighbors brought it to my attention. She heard about this year’s event and knew my mother had retired to Fort Lauderdale and that I should go do it,” she says. “Then she told me the National Senior Games was coming to Pittsburgh next year. It was a no-brainer.”
Lynn also appreciated the event’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. “What those women did allowed me and many, many other women and girls to have sport opportunity, and I’m grateful,” she says. She also was inspired to see the spirit on display when she checked out the basketball action in the convention center. “I’ve been in a lot of gyms with a lot of cheering, but it was cool to see the genuine excitement and competitiveness of the players, both on the floor and off court.”
Being a teacher, Lynn also knows that younger people are looking up to her. “I do take a lot of pride in being a role model to the high school kids getting ready to go into the world. But I don’t flaunt my gold medal around. I just try to lead by example,” she explains. “People that age need to understand the importance of being active, not just for how it makes them look, but how it makes them feel to enjoy competing and the social opportunities among others with common interests.”
She paused and considered having the National Senior Games in her back yard next summer. “There’s no doubt having these Games in Pittsburgh next year will bring more role models to their attention.”