Tri-athlete stresses involvement, having fun

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/26/97.

"Who cares if you win or lose when you compete, the important thing is that you give it your best," Tony Schiller told the Paynesville athletes Aug. 18.

Schiller, a St. Paul native and world class tri-athlete, spoke to parents and athletes at the Paynesville Area High School auditorium. "I have spent most of my life trying to be an athlete," he said. His roots as an athlete started in cross country and track in high school. A tri-athlete competes in swimming, biking and running all in one race.

He stressed the key to any performance was that you have fun while competing. "When you start performing on the athletic field, you forget what is happening around you, you let go of your fears, and do the best you can. An athlete has to show up for practice or competition as if you don't have any other place to be. You need to put all your effort into your sport, as that is what it takes to be a champion," Schiller said.

"As a middle school student, I was cut from a lot of teams. I developed low self-esteem and was convinced I was a loser," Schiller added. "Even after I lost a race, my coach still came up to me and said he was proud of me. He told me it took guts to try a sport with very little practice. That meant a lot to me."

After that defeat, Schiller became determined to do better. At the age of 15, he started to keep a journal of his running once he made a commitment to the sport.

"I found I needed to think about my teammates whenever I did something. A person doesn't want to jeopardize the team effort by putting yourself first. I found that I couldn't go through life halfway. I needed to commit myself to my sport and to the team and stay chemical free.

Schiller told the athletes they need to accept the talents they have and believe in themselves. Once they make a commitment, they need to stick with it.

"Parents need to instill strong moral beliefs in their children, but they need to let their kids grow up and fail once in a while."

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