Meet Our Board Members!
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we maintain a set of elected board members that ensure Team Athena is responsible and thriving. Each of the board members are active runners, who you can expect to see at track workouts. Our goal is to ensure community involvement, maximize our opportunity to reach women and to create an environment that is supportive encouraging and fun.
Michelle Watson, President
Michelle has always been active in sports. From the age of 5 her Mom encouraged her to do one sport per year along with her older sister. She has tried ballet, gymnastics, basketball, softball, ski racing and taekwondo. After High School, Michelle started running with her brother and sister for fun. They would go on long runs in the Summer heat down to the old Columbia River Gorge Highway and back home (10 miles). She didn’t start doing any running events until 2003. Her friend asked her to do the Portland Marathon and she said, why not? I run often…I can do this! ….2 weeks before the event! 26.2 miles later she had completed her first marathon! In 2005 after a close friend passed away from Leukemia, she decided to fund-raise for Making Strides Happen for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and run the Nike Women’s Marathon raising $1,200 for LLS.
Michelle decided to take a break from Marathoning for a while, but would soon go back to it once again in 2009 when she joined Team In Training. While training for an endurance event, TNT raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to fight blood cancers. She completed the 2009 Honolulu Marathon and got a Boston Qualifier! After being a TNT Mentor and Captain, she has since been a Run Coach for Team In Training LLS for 4 years now. She loves that she can use her passion for running towards a good cause and make a difference. Michelle and her husband have helped raise over $50,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Michelle joined Team Athena in November 2013. The energy and support that she endured was really something special and reeled her in….she just can’t get enough of the Team Athena spirit and the friendships that have formed along the way!
Michelle has completed 17 marathons, a handful of half marathons/5ks/8/Ks/10ks/15ks and a couple of trail 50Ks...oh and in January 2017 her first 8K Snow Shoe Race! :) She recently ran in memory of her Mom (Bea) at the Boston Marathon April 2015, whom passed in 2014. She says that day was unforgettable and healing....her Mom was with her every step, all the way to a PR...she is my forever angel. Michelle looks forward to running the marathon in Boston in 2017.
Her Mom’s favorite quote and her mantra in life, “Good better best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better. And your better is BEST.” Life is precious …every day is a gift and should never be take it for granted. Laugh too much….love too much…be in the moment...because the littlest moments become forever precious memories.
Leslie Eisen, Secretary/Treasurer
Leslie grew up with parents who were runners, so luckily she was encouraged to try running at a young age. She joined a youth track and field program in middle school, which led to participating in cross country and track in high school. However, she found the pressure of competition to be overwhelming, so she shieded away from organized races for most of her 20s and 30s, and stuck with running for fun. She has always found strapping on her shoes and heading out for a jog to be a joy, and jogging has been the most consistent hobby in her life. In Seattle she joined an outrigger canoe team and took part in many grueling distance races on a boat with six paddlers, which reintroduced me to the joy of competition, teamwork, and testing her limits. It was there that Leslie learned how to deal with her pre-race jitters, which allowed her to start joining organized race events again. After moving back to Portland, she discovered sprint distance triathlons, which are her current passion, and since joining Team Athena she's also done a few 5k road races. Leslie appreciates both the simple pleasure of heading out for a solo jog, as well as the challenge of preparing for a race and pushing her limits. Her hope is to keep running for many, many more years.
Leslie loves being part of Team Athena for lots of reasons. Most importantly, Team Athena has turned a solitary sport into an opportunity for friendship and camaraderie. She's made some great friends on the team. It’s fun to see new members join the team and find the same support that she's experienced. Another reason that she loves Team Athena is that it makes her a better runner and pushes her limits. When she does track workouts on her own, it can feel like torture, and she never runs as fast as she does when she's with the team. Doing track workouts together inspires her to run faster, to test her limits, and because of that she's gotten a lot faster. Lastly, Leslie loves Team Athena because we have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and reliable coach. Coach Shawn plans challenging, but doable workouts, modifies the workouts for different runner’s needs, and helps us with our running questions, both physical and psychological. Our coach has made her into a more confident and stronger runner. She's proud to call herself a member of Team Athena and happy to serve on the board of directors.
Stacie Garrison, Social Chair
Stacie has been active in sports for many years starting in 4th grade being coached by her dad in Basketball and Golf and in 5th grade falling in love with Volleyball and Track & Field. She continued with all of them through High School.
After sometime off due to life & adulting, her passion was reignited for running 5 years ago in 2012 when she decided to do her 1st Half Marathon. She had moved to the Columbia River Gorge after meeting her forever best friend where she quickly realized her whole backyard was her new playground littered with running trails. She has always been a "run for fun" and "as long as I finish" kind of runner, until she joined Team Athena.
Stacie joined Team Athena in 2016 and the support system has been so empowering for her. It has brought her 2 PR’s in 5 short months in a Half Marathon & 10k. The strength of the women of Team Athena, along with bonds and friendships will follow with her every time she laces up! Stacie has competed in a 25k, 10+ Half Marathons, Ride.Row.Run twice and numerous 10ks & 5ks. She set a goal in 2016 to run 50 Half’s in 50 States and to improve her speed & distance to be able to compete in a Full Marathon.
She loves here full time job as a specialty Construction Operator, Truck Driver and Safety Manager and spending time with her Grand baby & Fur babies. In her free time she keeps herself busy with her passions for Gardening, Canning, Woodworking, Sewing, Knitting and really anything crafty.
Carolyn Sykes, Membership Coordinator
Carolyn started running at the age of 10 and it has been a major part of her life ever since. She ran casually for many years, not really competing until after college. She wanted to lose her college beer weight and signed up for a 10k. She followed that with a half marathon and then completed her first full at the Portland Marathon in 2005.
After breaking her foot one summer, Carolyn re-learned how to swim. She already owned a road bike, so a triathlon seemed like a logical next step. She has completed in many local sprint and olympic triathlons, as well as two 70.3 races and one full Ironman. She also served on the board of the Portland Triathlon Club for two years.
Carolyn joined Team Athena in February of 2016 and it was the best decision she ever made! She has made so many great friends and her training has been better than ever! Since joining the team, she has run PRs in multiple distances, and hopes to follow this trend at the NYC Marathon in November 2017 this year. Team Athena runners are so positive and supportive, yet we also manage to push ourselves hard every week on the track. Whenever she hits the track with the team she always ends up running faster than when she runs solo. Coach Shawn is a great motivator at practice and is a genius at working with everyone’s varying paces and race schedules. Team Athena has given her more confidence in herself as a runner, for which she is extremely grateful. She is happy to be on the board of this fantastic organization!