By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Carly (Killam) Brown ('07, MAT '08) excelled in cross country and track and field for four years each as a Willamette University student-athlete from 2002-03 through 2007-08. She graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. She went on to receive a Master of Arts in Teaching from Willamette in 2008.
Since graduating, she has remained active by competing in triathlons. Now, she is one of Willamette's first honorary alumni triathletes. She lives in Kailua, Hawaii, and teaches third grade at Hawaii Baptist Academy.
Willamette Head Triathlon Coach Brett Franz has known Brown since first arriving at Willamette about 14 years ago. Prior to this year, Franz was an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Willamette from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2020. Willamette plans to compete in women's triathlon for the first time in the fall of 2021.
"Carly was one of the first student-athletes I met when I arrived at Willamette back in 2006," Franz said. "She was even at the lunch on my interview! She was the model for perseverance and was extremely coachable as a student-athlete. She challenged herself through ups and downs and was constantly reaching out to ask what I thought was best for her with training and school. Once she graduated, she continued to stay in touch and support Willamette and my coaching career. I have reached out to her throughout the years when I need contacts for recruits in Hawaii and she has always been eager and willing to help.
"As I started the work on building the triathlon program, I knew I needed to get her on as an honorary alum," Franz noted. "I had seen her passion for triathlon post-graduation and I knew that her experience at Willamette would be an invaluable combination for future Bearcat triathletes. When I asked her about being an honorary alum, she did not hesitate and asked how she could help. I look forward to having her be a resource for the first class of Bearcat triathletes."
Brown attended Willamette as a student-athlete when she left her home state of Hawaii because she sought a quality mix of academics and athletics.
"I chose Willamette because I wanted to go to a liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest," Brown said. "I was interested in studying Exercise Science and also running, and Willamette had two excellent programs! When I visited Willamette, the campus just felt right. I also really liked Head Coach Kelly Sullivan -- who ended up leaving after my first cross country season in 2003. On campus, I really liked the stream flowing through. I liked how Willamette also had a program with Tokyo International University in Japan (growing up in Hawaii this just felt more like home). I also really liked how Bush Park was so close, and I liked the beautiful track right in the middle of the park."
While competing for the Bearcats, Brown helped Willamette win NWC women's cross country championships in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. She studied abroad in New Zealand during the 2005 cross country season. She helped WU capture NWC women's track and field team titles in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Brown won an NWC championship in the 1,500-meter run in 2005. She missed the 2006 and 2007 track and field seasons due to injuries.
She was part of Willamette's NCAA West Regional Championship teams in cross country in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. She competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2006 and 2007. In track and field, she qualified for the NCAA National Championships in 2005 in the 800-meter run and in 2008 in the 1,500-meter run. She ranks seventh all-time at Willamette in the 800 with a time of 2:13.82. She earned a top time of about 4:37 in the 1,500.
Brown has been exceptionally successful as a triathlete.
"I have done many triathlons! I started in Utah (in 2011), then I moved to Greece in 2013-16 and competed there, and then I moved back home to Hawaii and have been competing here too — before the races were canceled (due to COVID-19)," Brown said.
"I always wanted to do triathlons after running in college because I loved to run, but I was injury-prone (two stress fractures), and I was also good at cross training," Brown noted. "I bought a bike and started biking and then joined a Master Swim Team in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I was hooked!"
She was the runner-up at the Honu 70.3 Ironman Triathlon on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018 and 2019. She set a personal 70.3 Ironman Triathlon record of 4 hours, 52 minutes during the 2019 Honu event. She has finished the Kona Ironman twice (2018, 2019).
"I've won many local triathlons and often finish in the top 10 of all participants (men included)," Brown said. In addition, she placed 13th at the Olympic Distance National Triathlon in 2018. Also in 2018, she qualified for a professional triathlon license but chose not to turn pro. Many of the bigger events she's entered feature over 1,000 competitors. During one stretch, from March of 2017 through June of 2018, she was the first woman to finish four races and was second in three other races.
In early October, Brown and her husband, Nick, were featured in Triathlon magazine. Their wedding ceremony was held on October 10, 2020.
Brown is glad to be an honorary alumni triathlete for the Bearcats. It allows her to recall her memories as a runner at Willamette and combined them with her interest in triathlon. She hopes to encourage future Bearcats to join the WU women's triathlon team.
"At Willamette, you'll now get the opportunity to compete in a sport where you'll meet life-long friends as well as receive a quality education," Brown said. "There are a ton of benefits to competing in triathlons — if you get bored of one sport there are two more you can do, it keeps your body balanced, and it requires just as much mental strength as physical strength. Competing at Willamette is competitive, but at the same time, they understand that you are a student-athlete. I wish I could go back and be a Willamette triathlete! I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get an honorary kit like the team.