Competition, athleticism, and the will to win—it’s all in Mike McQuaid’s blood.
From rowing at Washington State University to competing at Ironman races, McQuaid (’90 Hum.) now has his eyes on representing Team USA at the 2024 World Triathlon Championships in Spain.
McQuaid’s exposure to sports started in his childhood. He fondly remembers seeing photos of his grandparents with their wooden skis, inspiring him to be an avid skier.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” he says. “When you see a photograph of your parents or your grandparents doing something, you want to emulate that.”
From middle school to high school, McQuaid worked for and traveled with the Western Hockey League throughout western Canada. Immersing himself in a competitive culture became a way of life for McQuaid, propelling him to join the men’s rowing team at WSU while studying communications and business.
“I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t have competition in some way, shape, or form,” he says.
McQuaid honed his competitive edge while serving as the WSU men’s rowing freshman coach in 1987–88. Paul Hutteball Wilcox (’91 History) rowed under McQuaid’s leadership and remembers him as an impactful, results-driven coach who pushed student-athletes to “release the lions—to get out there without fearing a challenge or the possibility of a defeat.
“It’s part of who we are, and so I remember Mike is that competitive spirit,” Hutteball-Wilcox says. McQuaid had “that willingness to do more and not just strive for less, but there’s always something that can be done and how do I get better.”
Even off the playing field, McQuaid’s competitive drive helped him excel in his career. He worked for international companies like Business Wire and Amazon.com and eventually started his own firm, McQuaidUSA Strategic. On top of that, McQuaid is heavily involved as a civic leader in Seattle.
“Life takes over,” McQuaid says, but it didn’t stop him from plunging back into the competitive arena. Thanks to the nudge of his friend and now running coach Carol Coram, he started competing in triathlons. Now, a decade later, McQuaid was selected to join Team USA at the world championship level.
Coram, a Team USA triathlete herself, has been coaching McQuaid since last year. She says McQuaid’s focused mindset and ability to fine-tune his techniques make him extremely coachable.
“He’s one that always wants to do better, and it’s ingrained in him. That’s really part of his personality,” Coram says. “Whatever it is he does, whether it’s on the playing field or not, he wants to give it his all.”
McQuaid invests at least 25 hours per week training, not including his time working with his sports medicine team. With 15 triathlons scheduled this season, McQuaid is eagerly anticipating the world championship in October 2024.
“My mantra is eye on the prize,” he says. “You really have to stay focused on why you’re there and really do the little things correctly.”
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