Club Sports Hall of Fame triathlon inductee Anderson now in U.S. Coast Guard protecting borders, waters
A world traveler for much of his life, former Liberty University triathlete Joseph Anderson (’15) is back on his old stomping grounds for Saturday’s Club Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Virginian Hotel in downtown Lynchburg, where he will be one of three members in the Class of 2022.
Born in Germany two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and raised on bases around the United States and in locations throughout Africa and Europe as the son of a U.S. Army officer, Anderson took up the sport of triathlon in Zimbabwe, where he competed on its national team and became the Zimbabwean national champion in 2011.
“Growing up overseas, I was able to adapt to different environments while being away from the United States,” said Anderson, who earned his B.S. in Business Administration: International Business. “Having that kind of background helps you adapt to the challenges of living abroad.”
He had the opportunity to compete internationally at the start of his sophomore season, traveling with then Head Coach Beth Frackleton (a 2021 Club Sports Hall of Fame inductee) and then teammate Parker Spencer (’12), who served as head coach from 2014-18, in October 2012 to compete in the ITU World Age Group Championships in Auckland, N.Z.
“(Frackleton and Spencer) really helped build that foundation that has continued to be built upon over the years and current coach (Heather Gollnick) has done a fantastic job with the team,” Anderson said. “It is exciting to see how far it’s come along and I am excited to see how they do at (this weekend’s USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships in Gainesville, Ga.)”
A highlight of Anderson’s collegiate career was going undefeated in Mid-Atlantic Region races in 2013, when he activated his pro card in the sport. That fall, he directed and won the first Liberty Collegiate Triathlon held on campus, even after taking a detour in the second stage to direct a cyclist from the U.S. Naval Academy who had gone off course. He won the “Performance of the Year” honor at the 2014 Club Sports Awards Banquet for that selfless act.
Anderson is now a Petty Officer Second Class, working toward becoming an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. He will be presented by his wife, Ginny (’15, ’17), a former Lady Flames triathlete currently serving as a U.S. Army reservist training in Mobile, Ala., while pursuing her Ed.S. degree online in Education: Community Care and Counseling — Traumatology.
They were based in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until last summer before returning stateside to U.S. Coast Guard’s Base Attachment Pensacola, Fla.
“I mostly support the Coast Guard cutter boats landside with logistical operations and grounds management as well as going on board to help with inspections and delivering supplies,” Joseph Anderson said. “We are pretty active on the home front, protecting our borders and waterways. There is plenty of work to be done with drug (operations) and migrant ops.”
Anderson reflects fondly on his experiences at Liberty, in particular his travels and races with the triathlon team, surrounded by student-athletes who strengthened his faith.
“The camaraderie and friendships I built at Liberty, being on the same team as other believers, was life-changing,” he said. “Once you leave Liberty, you’re out in the real world, and you are not surrounded by strong believers and people of the same mindset. The kind of decisions I make in life all stem from my time there. My faith carried me through Liberty, and through my job, interacting with lots of young soldiers, being able to share my faith with them is a huge part of what I do.”
He has maintained his fitness in the Coast Guard, competing in the Navy Region Southeast Guantanamo Bay 5K in March 2021 and placing third overall out of participants in at least 15 base 5Ks in the Southeast in 17 minutes, 11 seconds.
Anderson is training for an opportunity to represent the Coast Guard at the U.S. Armed Forces Games in running or triathlon, with a goal of representing his base at the 2023 World Military Games, in a format similar to the Olympic Games.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media