Our History


The History of Tri-Masters

In 1992, with the support of former Chicago State University President Dr. Dolores Cross (also an avid marathon runner) and an initial start-up grant from the Chicago Community Trust, Lyles founded the Tri-Masters Youth Sports Initiative Program at Chicago State University. This beginning, with 30 youth athletes, was the foundation of today's programs.healthcare systems in remote areas to help poor people to stay healthier.

The organization currently consists of a youth triathlon-training program, two adult triathlon-training programs, a marathon-training program, and a cadre of race volunteers who assist in running and triathlon events throughout the Chicago area. In addition, there are partnerships with a community running club, a senior swim program, an infant swim program, and a teen swim team.

This program has affiliations with one of the largest cohorts of African-American athletes in the Midwest, yet includes athletes of all races in leadership and volunteer roles. As the life’s work of its founder, Bernard Lyles, the program was an opportunity to create a safe haven for children who are economically disadvantaged, have witnessed community violence, and may live in environments replete with alcohol and illicit drugs.

The program teaches youth that their accomplishments are limited only by their dreams and perseverance. The program has allowed a 5-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion and other world-class athletes to host swim workshops and life skill workshops for participants, while also exposing these youth to community business professionals who make fitness a major part of their lives.

The greatest reason for this program’s uniqueness is that it has shown more than 1,500 inner-city youth that the world is full of opportunities if you persevere and prepare. The program’s motto is “Tri and you can master anything in life.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the eyes of the program’s youth. .