Welcome to our first Pro Cycling interview with Shayna Powless. Shayna is a Professional Cyclist for Team twenty20, a cycling coach and Co-founder of the Dream catcher Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth through sports and bringing awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls happening across North America.
TTCC: Shayna, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your athletic history.
SP: I was born in Florida but raised in California once my dad was re-stationed when I was four to Beale Air Force Base. A couple of years later we moved to Roseville, California a suburb of Sacramento, which is where I spent the majority of my childhood. I grew up in a very athletic family. My brother, Neilson, and I participated in a number of different sports growing up ranging from gymnastics, swim team, soccer, cross-country, volleyball, basketball, triathlons and cycling. My childhood days were flooded with races and tournaments for those various sports. In high school, I started to focus more on running, cycling and triathlons. I didn’t decide to make cycling my primary sport until right before graduation.
TTCC: That’s fantastic, we have always been fans of multisport athletes. What changed when you finally went down the path of pursuing cycling as a professional career? Did your training or approach change?
SP: I really started being more mindful of dedicating more time and effort to my training. I realized that I needed to not only focus on my on the bike training, but also how my off-the-bike habits influenced my performance. The races that motivated me to make positive changes were the NorCal High School MTB races. I got my first real taste of what legitimate, strong cycling competitions were like during these races.
TTCC: You have only gotten more experience in high level competitions since turning professional and getting some pretty good results. From getting fourth on Stage 1 at the Redlands Classic, tenth of GC at the Joe Martin Stage Race and first in the USA U23 XC MTB Nationals. Which one of your many races has been the most meaningful to you?
SP: I’d have to say the 2019 Cape Epic TimeTrial. I came first overall in the female category and 3rd in themixed (male and female partners) category by the end of the 8-day race. This result was especially significant because we managed to finish strong everyday despite me getting sick halfway through the race. Cape Epic is a tough, cross-country MTB stage race that you do with a partner. We spent an average of 3-6 hours racing for 6 of the 8 days racing in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa.
TTCC: What an amazing experience racing around the world getting to do what you love and are passionate about! Another passion for you is the non-profit organization that you co-founded with your boyfriend Eli Ankou, NFL Defensive End. Can you give our readers a little more information about it and how they can help?
SP: I am a member of the Oneida Nation and Eli is a member of the Ojibwe Tribe. We both have a strong inclination to give back to the Native American community in any way we can. This motivated us to start a non-profit organization called the Dream Catcher Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering Native Youth through sports camps and raising awareness of the missing and murdered indigenous woman and girls (MMIWG) in North America. Please consider joining us in the fight to protect our Indigenous Women and Girls and providing sports camps to at risk Native Youth by visiting our website here or by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TTCC: Thank you so much for your time, Shayna, and for supporting our coffee company. We appreciate your support and love that your dad is drinking our coffee too. We wish you well in your professional cycling career and in your foundation efforts.