Scott Strode is a triathlete, mountaineer, and recovering alcoholic. He’s the Founder and National Executive Director of Phoenix Multisport, offering free programs such as climbing, boxing, CrossFit, yoga, and biking to individuals in recovery from substance use disorder.

A speaker at our previous Make + Believe event, Scott’s own discovery that a healthy, active lifestyle has a transformative effect on long-term sobriety inspired him to share that experience with others. Scott has been recognized worldwide for his work with Phoenix.

Can you speak to the transformative power of exercise you see on a regular basis?

There’s something special about exercise in group setting and individual sports that are done along with other people. When you stand shoulder to shoulder and face the greater adversity of the difficult mountain bike trail or rock climb, it builds a deep bond with the people next to you. In that sweat, we find friendships and a new supportive network.

Do you have a personal story you can share about how exercise brought some deep clarity to your life?

There was a time in my life when I got caught up in the extreme aspect of sports and athletics. I was no longer happy just completing an Ironman. I wanted to qualify for the world championships and when I didn’t, I felt a sense of failure. During one race, I had completed the whole Ironman course and was on my way to the finish line when I saw a friend just reaching the marathon portion. She had an ear to ear smile and gave me a big hug and said, “I’m going to be an Ironman, all I have to do is finish this marathon.” It made me realize it’s not about how fast you run the race, how much weight you lift, or if you’re on the podium. It’s about the journey. The path is the goal and it’s about the people you share your training hours with. I learned that we should celebrate our accomplishments no matter how big or how small.

What’s something few people know about you?

Despite being a big, tough-looking, bald guy, I’m actually a softy with a big, kind heart.

What’s the last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably?

That happens whenever I get to share time with my nieces.

When did you last make time for make-believe?

In the mornings, when I drink my coffee and look out at Smith Lake in Washington Park, I imagine all the possibilities in the world.

Do you have a favorite TED talk?

“How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime,” by Nadine Burke Harris