Corazón Racing: Changing the Face of Elite Cycling One Heart at a Time
Fuerza Coffee is proud to sponsor Corazón Racing, the first Latina women's racing team in South Texas! We caught up with Racing Team Director, Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson, Ph.D. to learn more about this incredible team and how they're diversifying elite cycling.
What is Corazón’s mission/vision?
Corazón Racing is the first ever amateur elite women’s bike racing team based in the Río Grande Valley. Our main objective is to develop women’s bike racing in the RGV and south Texas. We also aim to support and promote cycling, bike racing, as well as overall health, wellbeing, and fitness in the region through hosting women’s rides, participating in local and regional races, in addition to hosting and volunteering for various fitness related events.
Tell us the story behind Corazón
In the spring of 2017, Cathryn Merla-Watson (Director) and Jennifer Miller (Assistant Director), both transplants to the Río Grande Valley, came together and decided to start a women's bike racing team. While Cathryn is a Professional Category 1 racer with nearly a few decades of racing under her belt, Jennifer had only learned to ride a bike 2013 and previous to that was a self-described couch potato. However, both women shared a passion for cycling and bike racing and wanted to create a space for a diversity of women to feel welcomed and to thrive in the sport. With a few other women, Cathryn and Jennifer then began a local weekly women's ride and recruited new teammates. Everyone began structured training plans designed by Cathryn and her partner, and started racing as a team that summer!
What does it mean to be a Corazón athlete?
The word “corazón” is not only associated with inner beauty but also signifies composure, perseverance, and integrity—all of which we endeavor to embody as a team. We are a diverse group of professional women and are dedicated, talented athletes. Our current roster is comprised of 8 women, ranging from beginners to pro/elite racers: Dulce Aviña, Anilia Gonzaba, Jessica Martinez, Cathryn Merla-Watson, Erin Mikrut, Jen Miller, Jolanda Straathof, Stephanie Treviño, Sylvia Treviño. By balancing full-time jobs, families, and other obligations, as well as bike racing and fitness, we serve as excellent role models for our south Texas community. In just one year, we secured two state championships and will be competing at nationals this August 2019.
How do you see the inclusion of women impacting bike racing?
Like many sports, cycling and bike racing is a male-dominated and predominately white. The inclusion of women--and women of color--helps to diversify the sport. In our region in particular, it is significant that women (and men) see other women, especially Latinas, cycling and bike racing, so that they can imagine themselves doing it--and then do it! More generally, there are very few people who race period, and we're aiming to change this lack of representation.
Why did you choose to partner with Fuerza?
First, the name is freaking awesome and fitting to our team. We also appreciate and value your mission of empowering women through supporting athletes and female coffee producers.