Podcast

Episode 2: Part of a Fast, Fierce Family

By February 23, 2020 May 20th, 2020 No Comments

We welcome triathlete Lindsey Wolfe, who shares her experience as a Wattie Ink brand ambassador, and member of Wattie’s Elite race team.

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Transcript

Kristin Brandt: 

This is Kristin Brandt. And you’re listening to the Sundin Sports Marketing podcast. This week I am thrilled to welcome my friend and cyclocross teammate, Lindsey Wolf as she shares with us her experiences as a teammate and brand ambassador for triathlon brand Wattie Ink. All right, I am here with my friend and teammate, Lindsey Wolf at the shop. Thanks for joining me.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Hey, thanks for having me Kristin.

Kristin Brandt: 

I am so excited to talk about brand ambassadorships. Steve is in the corner dancing. Um, but before we get started on the brand ambassadorship, why don’t you tell people a little bit about yourself and like your athletic career journey. How do you want to define it?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Sure. Okay. So, um, my name is Lindsey Wolf and I do triathlons and gravel riding and cyclocross racing. Um, but everything started with triathlon. Um, I got into triathlon in 2012 when I was running but wanted a little bit more. I was a collegiate athlete. I played soccer and lacrosse and um, I felt like I just needed a little bit more than just running. So I started riding a bike and I signed up for my first triathlon, not even knowing how to swim at all. And

Kristin Brandt: 

I love that.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And, um, I actually found a pool down the street. It was like a mile away and I watched some YouTube videos and I was like, hey, I can do this, like come on. Why not?

Kristin Brandt: 

Which I think is just, uh, everything I think of you start, is like, why not?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah. So I was like, oh, triathlon looks so cool. Like I just need to just sign up and do it. So I went to the pool and yeah, I was wrong. Swimming was hard.

Kristin Brandt: 

Swimming is so hard. That’s a whole nother story. Everything you think you know about swimming, probably wrong. That’s what I’ve learned.

Lindsey Wolf: 

100%.

Kristin Brandt: 

swimming with our friends and they’ll watch me and they’re like, yeah, what are you doing?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Some people make it look so easy. So I got in the pool and I swam one lap

Lindsey Wolf: 

and I was like, wow. Yeah, I think I’m done.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So I, you know, I tried and I kept going back and I think I started swimming in like March for my July women’s sprint triathlon. It was,

Kristin Brandt: 

Okay. So you, so you are a runner?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yes.

Kristin Brandt: 

Not really a cyclist. Definitely not a swimmer.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Not at all.

Kristin Brandt: 

So you signed up for the triathlon and then you started to get ready?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yes.

Kristin Brandt: 

Love that, high five! Thank you.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So, so yeah, so I went and I just kept going and I kept watching videos and at that point I had not one triathlete friend, not one. So

Kristin Brandt: 

That’s also funny since I think all your friends are triathletes now.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Things have shifted a little bit. Um, but yeah, so I, I

Lindsey Wolf: 

ended up, um, struggling through it and it was a sprint, so it was short. It was, you know, I think this one in particular, it was the Danskin women’s triathlon in Webster, Massachusetts at Lake chaga, blah log. Yeah. Yeah. I know that. I know that, like I’ve gone to that one. That’s a fairly accurate way of saying the name. And so I did it and I survived. And I remember in my first triathlon during the swim feeling like I was dying. Like I literally was just like, Oh my God, I can’t breathe and I don’t know if I’m going to.

Kristin Brandt: 

Did you wear a wetsuit?

Lindsey Wolf: 

I did, I bought a wet suit from fast splits in like the old location.

Kristin Brandt: 

You were in it, you bought a wet suit.

Lindsey Wolf: 

I was all in. I was convinced like, this is going to be my jam. I’m going to love this. And, and I put the wet suit on for this super short swim and the water was probably so warm, but I felt like I couldn’t die if I had a wet suit on. Like I was like, you know what, I’m going to, I’m going to float. Like even if I can’t swim, I, I will be floating.

Kristin Brandt: 

That’s so funny. That’s so opposite of my first experience with a wetsuit, which is I rented one and I did it for a race and then when I came out of the water, Steve was standing there and he was like, how was it? And I was like,

Kristin Brandt: 

this wetsuit tried to kill me.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah. So I probably didn’t need it on because it was super short. But I felt like that was like my lifesaver.

Kristin Brandt: 

Right. Well what, what you’ve done well is that if running was your thing, that’s the last leg. So by the time you suffer through the first two things and then you start running, you’re like, where my problem always was cycling was my thing and then I had to start running.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Okay. Well I quickly became in love with riding a bike. Like, so I, it’s funny because I didn’t even have a road bike. My neighbor at the time, she lived across the hall, she had this bike that she had put out in the hallway because apparently she had, well, she wasn’t riding it anymore and it was a specialized allez. Right? Is that how you say allez yeah, we’ve confirmed that is correct. And so she’s like, Oh yeah, I don’t even use this.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Go ahead and ride it. So I didn’t even have a road bike. I started riding that. It was too small for me. But as soon as I started riding it, I loved it and it changed everything. So anyways, I did it and I finished the triathlon and I was in love with the support. So like I was

Kristin Brandt: 

That relates to the community around it while you were there. Especially women, a women’s triathlon. Great way to start on that. I’m going to, because there just so much love in the air and just like you can do this girl and girl power.

Lindsey Wolf: 

You got this.

Kristin Brandt: 

Go girl! I remember my first triathlon, I like started walking and some a woman behind me was like,

Kristin Brandt: 

stop, start running and I was like “Ahh okay!”

Kristin Brandt: 

you know, but like that, like, just cheering on people even while you’re on the course is what is so great about that community.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah, it was, it was a really good community. And so, um, I, you know, was quickly signing up for more races.

Kristin Brandt: 

So what year was that?

Lindsey Wolf: 

That was in 2012.

Kristin Brandt: 

Okay. Wow. So not that long ago. And you have become quite competitive, well successful within triathlon senior podium. So that is not a thing that happens to me very often.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So I think because I loved it so much. So what I did from there was, um, I was like, wow, I need to meet some friends who also do triathlons. So that, um, let’s see, 2013 I went to like the race mania expo in March and that’s where I was like, I committed my, I showed up when it started and I stayed until it ended because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the sport.

Lindsey Wolf: 

I wanted to meet a team. I went to each one of the tents and was like basically kinda interviewing but not, you know.

Kristin Brandt: 

This is the tri mania expo that’s held in Boston.

Lindsey Wolf: 

It is, it’s in Boston. It wasn’t MIT then, but um, yes and multi-sport puts it on. It’s an awesome event. Big shout out to Mark Walter.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh absolutely.

Lindsey Wolf: 

He puts on a great event. But yeah, so I went and you know, I met all the teams but I meshed the best with zoom multi-sport. And so I met zoom and immediately I’ve made friends, you know, so I joined this team, this local Boston triathlon team and um, it changed my world. I met all these great people who are now my best friends. And yeah, so from there I was all in for triathlon. And so I started racing with zoom. Uh, I thought everyone was crazy because they were signed up for like these iron man events and I was like, say what I will never do that.

Kristin Brandt: 

And how many iron men have you done now?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Only two full iron men.

Lindsey Wolf: 

But, I never thought I would do one. So I started, you know, at that point I had only done sprint, so I was like, Oh, I’m going to do an Olympic distance. And, and I did. Um, and then, you know, I signed up for eventually my first half iron and then my first Ironman. And so that’s sort of like been the segue. You know, I, I did, I raced Ironman Lake Placid twice and um, that’s sort of how I went from, um, racing with just a local tri team with zoom to thinking about like wanting to do a little bit more bigger scale.

Kristin Brandt: 

All right. So then you decided to get involved with Wattie Ink. So just so again, background, what is Wattie Ink.?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Sure. Yeah. So Wattie Ink. is a triathlon brand based out of San Diego, California, started by Sean Watkins and Heather Jackson. Uh, so it is a triathlon based brand, so they sell triathlon clothing, whether it be uh, skin suits or speed suits and uh, cycling bibs, cycling tops, things like that. And, and they’re also expanding sort of into the gravel scene now.

Kristin Brandt: 

Yeah they just did they they have like Grood is what we call that now for those of you unconnected with the cycling industry.

Kristin Brandt: 

Yeah, kind of love.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah. So they’re sort of expanding, which is awesome. The brand Wattie Ink. started in 2009 and basically what happened was, uh, Heather was a teacher and was starting to get into triathlon. She was cycling and met Wattie, um, who was also a cyclist. She started, she started racing and, and he was supporting her and she was supporting his endeavor in this whole, like triathlon apparel design company. So Heather started racing as a pro and Wattie was designing these kits and she was basically the one trying them out and using them. And I remember reading one story about Heather, how so Wattie created her kit for a 2014 it was a half Ironman and you know, at that point she had all of these sponsors and he created this kit and they realize, wow, like none of the sponsors are on it, so, and I want to race in it.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So why do you went to a local screen printing shop? And he had the sponsors, you know, put on it and he made it. And by the time they got to wherever the location of the race was, I can’t remember. Some of the sponsors were like peeling off.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh no.

Lindsey Wolf: 

But she’s still raced in it. And that was her first Wattie inc triathlon kit, which is cool.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh that’s awesome.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And so since then, you know, a ton of other pros race for Wattie Ink. Heather Jackson happens to be his wife, but also part owner in the company and also the record holder for the fastest American iron man time.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh wow.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah.

Kristin Brandt: 

Okay. So started as teacher now kickin butt as triathlete running this program. So what I mean, I, I guess I kind of get a flavor for what drew you to Wattie, but like how did you learn about them and then what ultimately, you know, why did you decide to say, hey, I’d really like to be part of that brand?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Actually, there’s a, there’s a cool story. So, uh, when I raced my first full Ironman at Lake Placid, um, in 2016, that was my first one I raced for the multiple myeloma research foundation for MMRF. Um, really good cause and I wanted to be able to support something that, you know, I saw firsthand, firsthand. Uh, I had a patient, I’m a physical therapist and I had a patient who had multiple myeloma and I saw go from very, very sick to get back to his job and he was walking and just amazing progress. So the fact that I was able to sort of give back to that and help that community was amazing. But I raced Lake Placid and that year, Lake Placid rotates between male pros and female pros. And that year it happened to be female pros and Heather Jackson was racing. I really, you know, I knew her name and I knew who she was, but I didn’t know anything at that point about who Heather Jackson was and what Wattie inc was.

Kristin Brandt: 

Right.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So I went up there, I raced Heather Jackson, smashed that course. She sat the, the course record for females by like 10 minutes. She won. She was amazing. Um, and I had a great day. It was my first Ironman, I mean, its a long day. But I survived and I asked her past my, my goal and it was definitely a really cool experience. So my parents had actually volunteered because they’re awesome and they want it to be a part of it. And so they, they volunteered in transition. And my stepdad, I remember he took a picture of Heather Jackson by Heather Jackson’s bike because at that time she was sponsored by Cannondale and he’s like, Oh, her bike looks like yours. And granted her bike was way more souped up than mine. But anyways, apparently he,

Kristin Brandt: 

okay, dad.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yeah. Apparently he had touched her bike and maybe even given it to her.

Lindsey Wolf: 

I don’t know. But, but um, yeah, so because they volunteered the next day, the race is on a Sunday, on Monday there’s like a volunteer dinner. And so I went with them and we got there a little early and outside of the, the reception hall or whatever that, um, the dinner was at Heather Wattie and Heather’s parents were standing, waiting to go in. So I just started talking with them and they were super nice, just very down to earth people. And I met them and obviously it took a couple pictures with them cause I’m like, come on, it’s Heather Jackson. She just won. And so I started to, you know, realize how, how real they were.

Kristin Brandt: 

They were nice. They talked to you.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yes. She’s a pro and she’s a superstar. And I felt like I was talking to an old friend. She was so nice. And the thing I remember most was we were walking into this uh, place and you know, we’re going towards the dinner.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And Heather was like, how was your race? She was so excited to ask me and I, you know, I told her, I was like, it was my first, this was my time. And she was like, wow, that’s, that’s way faster than my first full Ironman. I was like, Oh wow. Like I didn’t even want to talk about my race. I just wanted to ask her about hers and congratulate her. And she was so genuinely interested in like my day, which was…

Kristin Brandt: 

That’s awesome.

Lindsey Wolf: 

I was impressed. Yeah.

Kristin Brandt: 

What is the, what was the process to even join? Like to try to apply?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Yes. So I decided, wow, well I’d love to become a part of the Wattie community or you know, at least try. So I applied for the Wattie Ink. Team and I actually thought I was just applying to be an ambassador. There’s so many ambassador opportunities nowadays.

Lindsey Wolf: 

I just, I sent in the application and I remember getting a Facebook message from the director of the team at the time and he’s like, hey Lindsay, are you still interested in being a part of our Wattie Ink. Elite team? And I was like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I didn’t recall applying for that. I don’t know if I’m, I’m not an elite athlete, it’s, I don’t know. So, um, yeah, he was like, do you have any other commitments? And I was like, oh, definitely not. I don’t have, I don’t have people lining up to like,

Kristin Brandt: 

well, sir Becca, my dog really likes to be seen every day. But other than that, no.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So yeah, so I was like, Oh, absolutely. So I apparently applied for, it was a joint application where it was either the hit squad that you’d make or the elite team. And I was very lucky to end up being picked for their elite team, which is, you know, just a team of a hundred athletes throughout the country, uh, who represent Wattie inc, um, in many ways. But yeah, I was, I was honored.

Kristin Brandt: 

Do you know how they base, how they choose? Is it results? Is it social media? It’s a little bit of everything?

Lindsey Wolf: 

So the way the application process works is you apply and there’s a bunch of questions. Like, what did you race? You know, what were your, did you get on the podium this, that, what are your plans for next season? Um, and why would you be a good fit for Wattie inc? Um, I really honestly don’t remember what I

Lindsey Wolf: 

put on the application at first. I have no idea how I got on the team, but I’m very

Lindsey Wolf: 

thankful. And, um, so what I quickly learned was that Wattie Ink. was more than just, hey, are you winning races? Um, the team is founded upon representing this, this brand. But in the end it’s really more about being a part of this family. So are you a good fit with these people like that or that love the sport of triathlon training, racing, um, but also are nice people. And you know, when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, you know, you could sit down and have a beer with and maybe not even just talking about triathlon but about life and yeah. And, and you’re not completely into your own life. You want to know about your teammates and be involved in, in their life. And I’ve made some amazing friends through this, but, so I think, you know, there’s a social media aspect of it, you know, do you represent yourself well?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Will you represent the brand well? Um, but you know, are you a good person?

Kristin Brandt: 

Right. And so what are some of your, I guess, responsibilities as a brand ambassador? As you said, you’re representing the brand. I know you’ve gone out to California for some training camps, right? Is that an expectation of the team or is that just you can do it if you can make it.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Okay. So first of all, the expectations of the team. So you’re representing not just Wattie Ink., but we have sponsors. Um, wheel sponsors bike sponsors, nutrition sponsors, and you are to, you know, support them whether you use them or not, which obviously most of them we do. But, um, support them in social media, make posts, let other people know, hey, these products are great and I use them and, and you know, be real about it. That’s, that’s the important thing.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Um, and then there are opportunities like camp, I’ve been incredibly lucky that, um, this coming year, the 2020 season will be my fourth year on the team. Uh, in the past three years I’ve gone to camp and it’s an experience that I can’t put into words. It’s honestly going to camp has, has changed everything for me as far as being on this team because I’ve gone from being a member, a part of this team to like really like part of the family. And I, you know, being with these athletes who live all over the country who otherwise I wouldn’t necessarily have experiences with because maybe at races you’d run into each other and obviously you meet up when you’re there, but being at camp you spend a full week together. It’s like a reality show, honestly.

Kristin Brandt: 

Ooh, that’d be a good YouTube channel. Yeah, but you’re, cause you’re riding, you’re talking about nutrition, you’re doing right.

Kristin Brandt: 

I assume there’s more than just…

Lindsey Wolf: 

You’re living together for a week. So you know, you’re, we all house stay. We all stay in houses together. Um really close to the beach in Carlsbad. Beautiful place. And, you know, we wake up, we have breakfast together, we make coffee together, we go to our morning swim, then get back, have lunch, you know, then we go for a bike ride and it’s all very, very organized. And our sponsors are a part of it. You know, they come out, they support us on rides. They give us some product, they hook us up. Um, they make, they honestly make camp possible. Um, Herbalife 24 was a huge sponsor, made camp happen all three years I went there, but last year especially like really hooked it up. All we really have to do is get there and pay for our housing. And you know, the, the camp is free.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Um, so we’re very lucky for that. But yeah, I mean we just, we basically live, live any athlete’s dream. We wake up, we train, we eat, we train, we eat, we train, we sleep, we hang out, we have some beers to recover.

Kristin Brandt: 

And we talked about training, we talked about training and we talk about riding and we talked about racing, yeah.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And we get to know each other and we spend time together. And I, some of my best friends have, have been from meeting each other at camp and, and training together and you know who, you know, especially the members of my team who I stayed in houses with. Like you just really get to know each other and so it’s nice following each other throughout the year after even it’s, it’s just a week together. But really you become very close and so you follow each other’s journeys and.

Kristin Brandt: 

That’s awesome.

Kristin Brandt: 

And so it sounds like the biggest benefit to you, and I mean there are benefits I’m sure with either free product or discounts on products and stuff, but it sounds like the biggest benefit to you is the community that it hooks you into. I know you said before we talked before we got on, we were talking about that this was really your first or ambassador program. You haven’t been part of other teams like this before, but I know you have other friends that have been in ambassador programs. If somebody were to ask you what are some mistakes you see that ambassador programs make, do you have any that kind of come to mind?

Lindsey Wolf: 

Well, I’d say that being a part of this program and seeing what it should be like, it’s sort of easy to see. Yeah, it set the bar high. And you know, I have seen that other ambassador programs that are, you know, they’re, they’re considered teams or elite teams, um, become too elitist.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And I will say that with the Wattie team, we have athletes who are current pros or started as just members of the team who have become pros, who remain on the team. But then we have age group athletes who aren’t necessarily getting on the podium or you know, our athletes who absolutely love the sport. And so I feel like this team is, it’s such a wide range of athletes and, and real people that it, it meshes well versus the teams where their, their sole purpose is to be on top of the podium. And you know, people end up getting pushed out because other people who are maybe faster come in. And that changes the mentality of the team. I feel like. So I feel lucky that, you know, with Wattie it’s, it’s more than just about your results.

Kristin Brandt: 

and how important is, I think that’s great feedback.

Kristin Brandt: 

And also how important is communication to you like that you hear from the team regularly that you know what the expectations are for you that you know, cause I know I’ve, I’ve joined as ambassadors, gotten my Jersey and then the next thing I hear nothing and I’m like, I wonder what this was supposed to be.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Actually it’s huge. So we have the most amazing team director. His name is Tu Tran and he was a teammate of mine but now he’s taken the reins to take over the team every single Friday. He has a conference call with Wattie and Heather about our team, about the gravel team, about the brand. So everyone is on the same page and Tu is the most amazing communicator. Probably the smartest guy I know. Um, and he represents the team so well and he, we have a private team Facebook page and everything is, is relayed to us, you know, what our expectations are as far as you know, sponsor commitments.

Lindsey Wolf: 

And he lets us know, you know, obviously we get discounts and sometimes free product, but um, he lets us know what he expects of us and what Wattie and Heather expect of us. The good thing about the team is that the communication is, is in the forefront.

Kristin Brandt: 

And I was gonna say the size you said it. Um, so the team is a hundred. Right? Do you see, do you sometimes see other teams where they just got too big? They got like, you know, I think is it important that they define that this is the size that we can handle?

Lindsey Wolf: 

So they keep it around a hundred. I know, you know, every year I know that we get thousands of applications because it’s a, it’s a great group and um, I think the public is starting to realize that right? The triathlon community sees it and sees the support we give each other and it’s something great.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Um, it is nice that they keep the size of the team relatively small and not too big because it makes it possible to get to know each other. I can imagine and I’ve never been a part of a bigger team that if it was any bigger, it would be difficult to keep it close knit, keep it family-like. I mean our sort of hashtag or motto is fast, fierce family. Like you know, we’re, we like to think we’re, we’re a group, a close knit group and, and hopefully that doesn’t ever get too big. There is also a hit squad, which is another ambassador program with Wattie and they’re just as much our teammates. So even though they’re not, you know, on necessarily the elite team, they’re still Wattie athletes and we support each other at races. Uh, sometimes there’s a, there’s a few of them that come to camp.

Lindsey Wolf: 

So it’s actually, even though our team is kind of small, uh, we have this big, big community. They apply actually if to be on the elite team even before the general public. So we sort of open it up to the hit squad because they’ve already committed to being a part of this team. Um, and so a lot of our teammates have been on the hit squad for one, two, three years. And then they are asked to be on on our team as well, so.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh, that’s a really great, it is great way for them to do it. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Lindsey Wolf: 

You’re so welcome. Thank you for having me.

Kristin Brandt: 

Oh, it’s my pleasure. Congratulations on your racing and have a great upcoming season.

Lindsey Wolf: 

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Kristin Brandt: 

I’m so grateful to Lindsey for taking time out of her schedule to come visit with me and share her experiences. The Sundin Sports Marketing podcast is produced by Sundin Sports Marketing, a full service marketing and advertising agency. Bringing your ideas into action. For show notes, links, or to find out more, visit us at sundancesports.com you can also make a connection through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn at Sundance Sports. Thanks again for listening. Now get outside and play.

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