Our Coaches


Vikki – Purple Coach (Pace Group – 14 + minute mile)

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Vikki joined TBF in 2014, and will be leading the Purple group with Coach Kurt.  Vikki’s inspiring journey to fitness, motivates all of those around her to follow in her footsteps, with the confidence that they too, can do what may have once seemed impossible.   Vikki’s experience in her own words:

I started running as an activity after I lost over 100 lbs back in 2011.  Since then, I’ve completed 19 half marathons, and am working on #20 for 2018 (Gasparilla).  This year I am starting over, as I’m coming back from an injury and subsequent weight gain that sidelined me.  My goals this yera are to be positive, and inspire and help others, to complete their first or fiftieth half marathon.

Tonya – Orange Half Head Coach (Pace Group 12:30 – 14 minute mile)

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Tonya joined the TBF family in 2010, and finished the season running her very first half marathon!  She has run at least one,  every year since, and this picture is from last year’s half marathon where she set a Personal Record!  Tonya began assistant coaching in 2012, and then became a head coach in 2015.  Her group is historically the most (and best) photographed, providing our FB page with lots of fun selfies and group pics!  Her encouraging, compassionate nature, gives all of those she coaches, the confidence to do things they never thought possible.  We are lucky and grateful to have Coach Tonya back again!

A little more about Tonya, in her own words:

I started coaching so that no runner ever felt like they were too slow or not good enough.  I love watching someone complete their first half marathon knowing that I helped them get there.

I am the FL VP of Sales and Marketing for Johnson & Johnson Insurance.

I have been married for 22 years and have 2 son’s that are attending the University of North Florida.  With a little encouragement from me, they have all run at least 1 half marathon.

When I am not working or coaching, I run a non-profit called Ready for Hire,  lead a couples community group called Homebuilders,  am the Servant Team Leader at my church, sell Mary Kay and I am a coordinator for Family Promise.  As you can see, I like to stay busy.

Kurt – Purple Assistant Coach (Pace Group 14+ minute mile)

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You’ll find Kurt at every TBF run and event, with encouraging words, and a high 5, when you need it the most.  Those joining our walking purple group, will have the fortunate experience of learning from, and getting to know this great man and athlete.  We are happy to welcome Coach Kurt aboard!  Kurt’s fitness journey in his own words:

I’ve been doing multi-sport (triathlon) for about 11 years. I’ve also completed several half marathons and a full marathon. I’ve been with TBF for 7 years as a runner – this will be my first year as a coach. I was (gratefully) cajoled into TBF by one of my best friends who was also a former coach. My goal is to assist the runners in my group to achieve their goals – all (running) things are possible with TBF!

Melissa Dowd – Organizer – Red Full / Half Coach (Pace Group 11 – 12:30 minute mile)

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Melissa Dowd joined USAFIT, in 2014 as a Yellow group assistant coach.  She returned in 2015 as Red Group assistant coach and will be co-organizer alongside Jessica Baker, for her second year, and the 2017-2018 season.  Melissa has always enjoyed fitness and incorporated into her life in one way or another, but didn’t begin long distance running until she was in her 30’s.  She has been a group exercise instructor, and personal  trainer, for both the Marine Corps and corporate fitness centers.  Melissa’s fitness journey in her words…

I’ve always loved to explore different fitness options that keep me excited and motivated, through goal setting or just plain FUN.   I’ve taught everything from Spin to Zumba, and decided to run my first marathon at the age of 32. I reluctantly joined USAFIT in 2014, with a little positive peer pressure, and very quickly realized how much it enriched my running experience.  I was always a solo runner, and enjoyed the quiet, but it didn’t take many runs with USAFIT, to begin to wonder how I ever did it without them.   What I love most of all about being a part of USAFIT, is watching the growth that comes from each individual, and unique journey to a finish line.  When setting a goal, turns into truly BELIEVING it can be achieved, changes happen, and the empowerment that develops in a person, is evident and life changing.

Jessica Baker – Organizer – Yellow Full Head Coach (Pace Group 9:30 – 11 minute mile)

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Jessica Baker joined TBF as a member in 2014, and her natural coaching ability was immediately apparent.  Her infectious smile, enthusiasm, and genuine concern and acceptance of others made her a must have addition to the TBF coaching family.  She will be coaching the Yellow Full group for the 2017-18 season, as well as serving as co-director with Melissa Dowd.

Jessica’s fitness journey in her own words…

I joined Tampa Bay Fit in 2014 to train for a full marathon. I started running in 2012 and could barely run 60 seconds without stopping. Using a couch to 5k app I was able to complete my first 5k that year at The Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete.  I fell in love with running!  On New Year’s Eve 2013 I decided to set a goal of 13 races that year to include the Women’s HALF Marathon (I wanted the Half medal). I was able to reach my goal using the same couch to 5k training app. After completing my first half marathon I decided to train for a full marathon but couldn’t find an app for that. That is when I discovered Tampa Bay Fit. Thanks to Tampa Bay Fit’s training schedule and coaches I was able to complete my first full marathon, The Clearwater Marathon , at my goal time of 4:20 (4:22 actually, but close enough). I have now completed 5 full marathons. I am currently training for The Marine Corp Marathon this fall.

Michelle – Red Half Head Coach (Pace Group 11 -12:30 minute mile)

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Michelle is back for her 8th season with TBF!  She joined as a member to get fit before her 40th,  and then served as a coach, and organizer.  She will be leading the Red half group to another finish line, with her extensive experience, positive encouragement, gentle demeanor, and true dedication.  She really enjoys the half distance of 13.1, and has run more races than we can count.  The highlight in her running career, was the Marine Corps Marathon, in which she completed despite hurricane conditions.  Michelle’s coaching goal is to teach others how to maximize their training and see them reach their goals.  “No matter the distance, Saturday mornings are always one big fun run!” ~Coach Michelle

Matt – Green Group Head Coach (Pace Group 8 – 9:30 minute mile)

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Matt joined Tampa Bay Fit in 2004, having never done any distance running. He wasn’t terribly good. Then things clicked, and he hasn’t looked back. As of summer 2017, he has run 47 marathons in 39 states, plus bunches of half marathons. He’s on his way to running a marathon in all 50 states before he turns 50.  He has run Boston, and his best time is 3:16, which he somehow ran at the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham. Matt helps coach TBF runners because he enjoys helping runners meet their goals and learn how to finish races happy. He’s willing to work with anyone who wants to get better. Whether you’re blazing fast or more of a plodder, you can enjoy distance runs and finish them with a smile on your face!

 

Matt has had the good fortune of running all over the country, and he is continuously reminded that the St. Pete waterfront is one of the most beautiful places to run.  He can’t wait for our next season to start.

 

When running, Matt tries to forget that he is an attorney.  He and his wife live downtown.

 

Amy Mendelblatt – Assistant Coach – Orange Half (Pace Group 12:30 – 14 minute mile)

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Amy has been a member and coach with TBF for 6 years.  She is back to join Tonya and Bonnie, coaching the Orange half group.  Those lucky enough to get the pleasure of training with Amy, immediately recognize her natural ability to lead with her infectious laughter, positive (and humorous) words of encouragement, and genuine enthusiasm.  Here is Amy’s fitness journey in her own words:

“I started running about 6 years ago, after signing up for my first half marathon!  I’ve been hooked ever since.  I try and run a few races every year, and am always up for an adventure.  I’ve done a few trail races, and this picture was taken after an un timed hike up Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho.  It was 2.5 miles uphill!  Thankfully, there were cookies at the top!  I run to spend time with friends, and I run to show my kids that it’s fun to stay fit and inspire them to do the same.

 

Bonnie – Orange Half Coach (Pace Group 12:30 – 14 minute mile)

Assistant Coach - Orange Half Group

Bonnie began her running career solo, training for Gasparilla in 2009, and soon after, recognized the need for some structure and guidance in training for her next.  Google led her to TBF.  It was exactly what she was looking for, and she quickly began to grow her running resume!  Bonnie has since run 19 half marathons, and 2 fulls.  She participated in the Key West Ragnar, and her favorite accomplishment, was completing Disney’s Goofy challenge!  Bonnie’s been an incredible member, leader, volunteer, and coach, for TBF, for the past 7 years. Her goals for this season, are to get herself and everyone she coaches, to finish the races they are training for, pain free, and looking forward to the next one!

Lisa – Yellow / Red Half Coach (Pace Group 11-12:30 minute mile)

Assistant Coach - Yellow / Red Half

Lisa joined TBF last season, and is back for the 2017-2018 season, as a half coach.  She has been running since 2000, when her son was on the cross country team, and she was determined to keep up!  That same year, she was invited to do the Peachtree 10k road race (the largest 10k in the United States) and was hooked.  Lisa has completed one full marathon and several half marathons.  She emerged as a natural coach last season, helping TBF members complete 20+ mile training runs, several Saturdays, and meeting up during the week for hill and speed work.  Lisa is also an incredible cross fit athlete, and understands the importance of a comprehensive training program, that includes more than just miles.  Her positive attitude and enthusiasm are ever present, and we are lucky and excited to welcome her as a part of the coaching team!

Hillary Holden – Yellow Half (Pace Group 9:30 – 11 minute mile)

Assistant Coach - Yellow Half Coach

This will be Hillary’s first year joining Tampa Bay fit, and we welcome her with excitement and admiration.  She will be coaching the Yellow Half Group, at a pace of 9:30-10:30 / minute miles.  Hillary may be new to TBF, but she is not new to the sport of running.  She began long distance running in high school, and then went on to run competitively in college, for UNF, in Jacksonville, FL.  She is a kindergarten teacher, and has two beautiful girls of her own.  Hillary’s positive outlook, and competitive spirit will be an asset to our program, and all who are able to join Hillary’s group, will surely benefit and thrive!

Kelly Newbill – Red Full (Pace Group 11 – 12:30 minute mile)

Assistant Coach - Red Full

Kelly came to TBF in 2016, as an orange half coach, with incredible energy, positivity, and enthusiasm.  This year she will be leading up the Red Full Marathon group!  In addition to being a TBF coach, she is a dedicated wife, mother, sister and daughter, 20 year Tech Data veteran, life long athlete, and she bleeds garnet and gold (Florida State alum).  She most recently completed her first (and possibly last) triathlon and has done over 30 half marathons, beginning in 2008.  Kelly’s goal for this season, is all about success rate.  She wants to see everyone that starts the season in her group, finishing it, healthy and inspired.  With her trusty selfie stick, we have no doubt that she’ll have the pics to prove it!