Friday 22 November 2019
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PRISCILLA WESTFIELD Triathlete: Determination at its Finest

story by Katrice Williams
photos by Tonya Perry
Priscilla Westfield is diligently striving towards her goal of becoming the first African-American female professional triathlete. Triathlon “is a multisport race with three sequential endurance races,” including swimming, cycling and running over a variety of distances. Athletes “compete for fastest overall course completion, which includes timed transitions between the three races.”
Triathletes have “transition areas” to accommodate each point where “switches” occur (transitioning from swimming to cycling and cycling to running). There are normally four distinctly different types of triathlons (characterized by the distance of each of the races): Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Full Ironman, in order of shortest to longest distances. A Sprint Triathlon may include up to a 750-meter swimming competition, a 12-mile bike race and a 3-mile run.
That said, Priscilla’s hard work and determination have afforded her the opportunity to travel to Australia in September to compete in the International Triathlon Union’s (ITU) 2018 Gold Coast Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Triathlon World Championships.
The Massachusetts native is married to David Westfield, Sr. The couple has one daughter, Phoenix, 13, and two sons, David Jr., 12, and Josiah, 5. Priscilla, a U.S. Army veteran who served 10 years active duty, is well-traveled and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College in psychology and a Master’s Degree from Liberty University in marriage and family therapy. She is confident that her acquired skills, knowledge and overall values in that arena will allow her to be a much-needed asset in the lives of countless others.
“You go to school to be a doctor or lawyer, but nobody teaches you how to be functionally married,” she commented. She mentions the high divorce rate, adding, “It shouldn’t be that way, and all it takes is a little bit of education on how to be married and lots of prayer. God has used my marriage; I’ve seen miracles happen in my relationship and would love for others to experience the same freedom,” she said.
Moreover, Priscilla’s drive has allowed her to assist others. She has been a volunteer clinical counselor and adolescent group leader over the past couple of years at a local non-profit organization–Heads Up Guidance Services (HUGS).
As a U.S. Army Signals and Intelligence Analyst, Priscilla learned the value of maintaining a positive mind-set, along with encompassing extraordinary discipline, focus and drive—that determination to “push past” challenging or seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
Priscilla’s determination has long translated into noteworthy success in athletics, even earlier in life. She used her athletic talents to combat many childhood challenges. Being born to two deaf parents, Priscilla learned the meaning of responsibility early on. As the elder of siblings, Priscilla played a valuable role in her household, where she worked hard to assist her family with various tasks.
“It made me very determined and helped me become more focused…more positive. If I want something, I can get it; it’s about how hard I am willing to work for it or sacrifice for it. Throughout my childhood, people always told me I was strong. It was a gift from God. I noticed that I was very competitive, and it seemed like athleticism came a little more natural to me.  I found an outlet in athletics. Doing sports allowed me to be free. Whatever I did, I continued to push myself; that’s just the type of person I am,” she stated.
Priscilla certainly gives the credit where it is due. As she takes sincere pride in her Christian faith, she knows that she would not have prevailed in the midst of any of her life’s circumstances without Jesus Christ.
“God does it for His glory. When I started putting Him first in my life and loving Him, everything was in order. He can use the platform that you’re on for the bigger picture,” she stated.
Priscilla’s first triathlon experience occurred in South Korea in 2009, a Sprint Triathlon, while she was still in the army. She remembers seeing a flyer of an upcoming competition that was posted on base. She had no experience in the sport but decided to try it. Though the training and overall event was hard work, it never stopped her from persevering. She had a great performance.
“I really enjoyed it; it was exciting,” she said.
Over the past few years, Priscilla has continued to participate and triumph in various athletic ventures. In fact, she decided to continue her triathlon endeavors domestically, as she first competed in the Ride on Ryan Triathlon in 2015. Held in Savannah, it is a sprint triathlon initiated by Stacy New to honor and “continue the legacy” of her brother Ryan Williams, a popular and noteworthy triathlete who passed away at the early age of 32 in 2013. Ryan had an utter passion for the sport that he coached and mentored with a kind, positive and motivating persona; he touched countless individuals. The Ride on Ryan was a great start for Priscilla, as it is primarily aimed towards those athletes just starting out in the triathlon arena.
Priscilla has earned an impressive athletic resume in both triathlon and other competitions. Whether finishing 2nd overall female at the Ride on Ryan in 2015, 2nd overall female at the Heart of Savannah 5k in 2016 or having a top-notch performance this year at the Jacksonville Tri Series Competitions, Priscilla has proved to be a phenomenal athlete.
According to USA Triathlon (USAT), Priscilla is currently ranked 10th in Georgia, 32nd in the Southeast and 411 of 1,262 nationwide.
In addition to competing, Priscilla has spent a great deal of time at the West Chatham YMCA over the past few years helping others, whether as a swim team head coach, personal trainer or substitute fitness instructor.
Priscilla has genuine appreciation for everyone who is around her–all the people who have supported her and her dream along the way, especially her husband, family and friends, whose love and support is truly priceless to her. She is thankful for the support and wise guidance of her pastors at The Sycamore Church in Savannah. She also appreciates Stacy New, whose vision and tenacity has been very inspiring. Dawn Barrios, a West Chatham YMCA fitness instructor, has certainly helped her go after her goals. More so, one of her biggest inspirations is Jean Toth. At age 65, she has a level of determination and relentlessness that is seldom matched even by individuals half her age. She has competed in various triathlon events across the country and has even qualified for the upcoming World Championship Ironman Competition in October. She has helped Priscilla develop more of a love for cycling and swims with her on the Master’s Swim Team and the Savannah Tri Team (STT) at the Savannah Aquatic Center.
“She is one of my bigger mentors in the field of triathlon; she is always winning. She and Steven Templeton, a member of Savannah Wheelman’s Cycling Club, inspired me to do my first 100-mile century ride,” she remarked. Erinne Guthrie, Priscilla’s online triathlon coach and the founder of Full Circle Coaching, has helped her progression in the sport tremendously. Erinne was also a close friend of Ryan Williams.
“She’s a world of knowledge when it comes to triathlon; she’s awesome,” Priscilla said.
Priscilla is immensely grateful for the kindness and generosity of her contributing sponsors, including: Quality Bike, Specialty Sports and Fleet Feet. She, too, appreciates the support of her non-contributing sponsors, which include: YMCA of Coastal Georgia, Heads-up Guidance Services (HUGS), Humane Society of Greater Savannah, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Girls on the Run and The Sycamore Church.
Priscilla Westfield is diligently striving towards her goal to become the first African-American female professional triathlete. With her determination, drive and admirable character, it will be of little surprise when she accomplishes such a monumental feat.
Priscilla invites anyone who is interested in supporting her cause to follow her on Instagram (@priscillacantri) and Facebook (Priscilla Westfield).

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