Lightning Warriors

A Lightning Warriors youth triathlete smiles as she waits to swim during a race.

The Lighting Warriors is a youth triathlon team in Long Island, N.Y. This team is a past Pillar Grant recipient. 

This non-profit focuses on making the sport of triathlon available to all young athletes, as well as unlocking each child's athletic and leadership potential. Its mission is to help young athletes build strength and confidence to create strong, successful leaders excelling at all levels of life through the sport of triathlon. 

 Participants at the Mini Maniac Youth Triathlon, which is hosted by the Lighting Warriors. 

The team is for ages 7-18, with levels for development, competitive and elite athletes. Members focus on skills like fun, safety, age group competition and elite competition. 

Part of the Lightning Warriors' mission includes removing barriers so all can participate. Membership is free and includes coaching, equipment and race fees. Athletes and their families also volunteer and participate in fundraising activities that support the team. 

Noah Lam founded the team in 2016 after his son became interested in triathlon and started racing. Today, the team has more than 80 members. 

First-time member Eleni Astras, 12, joined the team after watching her brother race. She told ABC 7 triathlon made her feel empowered. 

"I feel great, I feel really good about myself, and I feel healthy and confident," she said.

Her mom, Kalpana Astras, has loved watching Eleni develop her self-confidence. 

"It helped her really understand how athletic she is, how strong she is and what she can accomplish," she said. 

The Mini Maniac Youth Triathlon attracted over 150 participants in 2021. Half of them were first-time triathlon finishers. 

In 2020, the team hosted a virtual six-week clinic. This year, they held weekly clinics in-person to familiarize kids with racing the Mini Maniac Youth Triathlon, which they have hosted since 2019. Over 150 kids participated this year, and half of them were first-time triathlon finishers. 

Check out the video below to see a recap from this year's race on Sept. 19. 

The team has big plans for 2022, as it plans to expand coaching, potentially adding another event under their name, and hosting a youth series on Long Island with other race directors.