Our Coaches


Wendy Riley

Organizer - & Hill Work Coach

I have always been a fairly active person with a background in dance, aerobics, and weight training. Until I started with USAFit Cypress, running was not my exercise of choice. Luckily, a friend asked me if I wanted to join USA Fit Cypress. She shared with me about the comradery, educational seminars, race medals, and socials, so I decided to give it a try.

At first, I was afraid that I would hold everyone back because at the time I couldn’t even run 1 mile without stopping. I didn’t know what to expect, but went ahead and attended my first group run. There I found out that they had several groups I could choose from that would fit my ability and pace. I continued through the season following the USA Fit training program and implementing the information I learned from the seminars on running. At the end of this first season, I finished my first ½ half marathon! After this, I was hooked and running became my exercise of choice. Since then, I have participated in 15 half marathons, 2 triathlon races, and 2 ten miler races and am looking forward to doing more.

Joining USA Fit Cypress has been one of my best decisions – I’ve learned a lot, made new friends, and achieved more than I thought possible. It’s amazing what a confidence boost achieving your goals can be.

Now as a coach and co-organizer, I enjoy encouraging and helping others achieve their goals. USA Fit Cypress is truly a positive and supportive group. Come join us! It can change your life.

Donya Brewer

Organizer - & Tempo Coach

For a long time, running has followed and underlain the rhythms of my life.
I ran my first full marathon in 2005 with USA Fit, a distance ten years before I would have laughed if you suggested me doing it in anything other than a car with the accelerator pressed and the radio turned up. Although I remained active after that race, I like to say that much like child birth, it took me 10 years to forget all that was involved and decide to train for another full in 2015. I was about to be taught what pain really was.
What I did not know as I trained is that a few days before that race my life would change significantly. Without airing too much of the tragic events that occurred, suffice it to say that my heart was completely broken. I had trained for six months for an event that I no longer felt capable of or the slightest bit interested in participating in. The rug had been pulled out from beneath my feet and my devastation was paralyzing. The hardest part was that I was not mentally prepared to share the events with anyone aside from my husband. If I didn’t run the marathon everyone I knew would ask why….which could lead to talking about my pain. So, I ran. With a lump in my throat, tears streaming down my face, and weakness in every part of my body, I ran. One foot in front of the other and hitching breaths from my cry, I ran. I’m sure my fellow runners must have thought I was in pain or simply overcome with the emotion of the run but inside my heart ached more than any other part of my body possibly could. Running could not heal what I was dealing with, but it helped me deal.
When I finished that race, I stopped, convinced I would never run again. A year went by, while I grieved and I fought off the idea of ever running again. Associating the pain I felt on that day with the run and afraid it would return again.
Finally the summer of 2016, I found the courage to “suit up”. At first, I walked. I was in horrible shape and it showed. I even found myself having to sit under a tree a few miles in to regain the energy and finish a long walk. Eventually, I ran again. Some days, I would set out to run, so angry at the turn my life had taken and as a result at how far my fitness had fallen – I shed more tears of frustration under a tree that stood there and only watched my struggle. A wise friend told me, I was “praying with my feet”. I think she was right! The more I ran, the better I felt! When I found the courage to join Cypress Fit that year and run alongside others again, I felt even better. I listened to others talk and slowly I felt like talking too. I cannot express what this group has meant to me and what my fellow orange half members have given to me. Even those I did not get to know that first season, helped me with their presence, a smile, some encouragement, and energy. Today, I still face the struggles that life offers, but inside I am stronger. I am ready to face the pavement and “pray with my feet”. I am grateful that running took me back and helped me to find myself again. So, for me running has made the “why me?” Turn into “why NOT me?”

Sharon Malkovicz

Assistant Coach - Purple Walking Coach

Running, a word that was not in my vocabulary. I use to tell friends that ran, the only way you would catch me running is if someone was chasing me. I would rather be swimming, camping or canoeing.

A co-worker of mine joined USA Fit Cypress and I heard how much she enjoyed the people, coaches, and getting into shape while training to run her first half marathon. She convince me to join her the next year and that was seven years ago. I completed my first half marathon at 54.

I have enjoyed the USA Fit Cypress program so much that when arthritis and bad knees ended my running days, instead of quitting I joined a fabulous group of walkers.

I’m looking forward to year number eight with USA Fit Cypress and spending Saturday mornings with our returning member and getting to know our new members and hoping they will have the same positive experience that keeps me coming back.

Jeff Streets

Assistant Coach - Red Group

During my youth in a small Kansas town, I was always active and athletic. In high school, I excelled at football, basketball and track. The 440 yard dash was my specialty. Yes, high school races were measured in yards back the 80’s.

So, you could say that I have always been a runner. Still, distance running does not come easy for me to this day. I have had to learn how to run long training distances and endurance races. I started learning to run long distances in 2005 after noticing that I wasn’t as fit as I wanted to be and learning that my cholesterol was borderline. Heart issues run in my family, so I felt I needed to make a plan that would keep me healthy for many years.

I improved my diet and began walking. After a few months of walking, I began running on a regular basis. Gradual increases in distance led me to my first half marathon, which then led me to run my first marathon two years later. Now that I’ve completed the Houston Marathon 9 times, I get to train with you and share what I’ve learned.

I’ve trained with USA FIT Cypress for about 5 years now and I rarely miss a Saturday morning long run on the paths of The Bridgelands. These long runs are both social and a good way to measure your progress. The hill workouts at the Hockley Soapbox Derby Hill and the track workouts at a local high school track can make you a stronger runner. The seminars held immediately following the Saturday long runs will educate you on many of the topics critical to a successful running season, such as stretching, hydration, nutrition, running shoes, injury prevention, and more. Furthermore, there are many experienced runners in the group that are always ready to share their own experiences.

Please don’t be intimidated about joining USA FIT Cypress. We are your neighbors and friends, and we are not semi-professional runners. Everyone in the group remembers what it is like to attempt a distance that you’ve never run before. We also celebrate with you as your endurance gets stronger and stronger, enabling you to set new personal records. I look forward to running with you!

Julie Wallace

Assistant Coach - Orange Group

I’m a late in life runner. I started being active again after a car accident side lined me for 6 months and I gain 30 pounds I first started walking to help get it off. The walking turned into running which turned into 5ks, then 10k and before I knew it I was running half marathons. The need to keep going, to push my limits, lead me to join USA Fit Cypress to train for my first marathon. I have since run 5 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon.
My favorite running quote pretty much sums up what running means to me:
“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runner. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”

Gladys Ciarallo

Assistant Coach - Yellow Group

I was never a fan of running. In fact, I was never a fan of any physical activity, even in high school.

I was engaged with running back in 2010 during a birthday party. Yes, a birthday party. It was a challenge from a tri athlete fellow, who challenged a group of friends to train for a half marathon. I was excited with the group activity but the running. I was pretty good doing the training, while I was gaining strength and endurance.
Few months later, the race day! I have to admit, that I will never forget the time I crossed my first finish line… at that time I realized about the big accomplishment. It was worth the effort!

After all the excitement and emotions following my first race, I decided to Join USA Fit Cypress in 2011. Initially, the driver was to keep challenging myself, but I also found an amazing group of people that make me enjoy every run. As a team, we pushed and support each other, something that seems to be “contagious” once you join the group.

Six years later, 26 half marathons and many 5Ks and 10Ks, I can say I’m a proud RUNNER who is constantly looking to improve and for new goals.

Now, I’m excited to share my experience and help others to achieve their goals!

Janet Laurell

Assistant Coach - Yellow Group

I ran 5Ks for a long time until a friend convinced me that doing a half marathon would be a great idea. I signed up for the 2005 Aramco Houston Half, downloaded a training schedule, and did all my distances on the three mile loop in Memorial Park all by myself. I survived it so I signed up for the full marathon for 2006.

I knew my training could have been better so when someone told me about Houston Fit, I joined immediately. The group runs were much better preparation for the long distances. I looked forward to my running group and didn’t want to let them down by missing my weekday workouts or missing a long run. I had a great time at the marathon and continued to sign up every year.

When I got married, moved to the suburbs, and had kids I switched over to running half marathons and to Cypress Fit. I’ve loved having my running group out here to keep me accountable for my training and my pacing. Im looking forward to running with both new and experienced runners and encouraging each other to keep on running.

Summer Rivenbark

Assistant Coach - Red Group

My love for running started when I was in Jr. High and High School. The longest distance I ran at that time was the 400 meter dash. I decided my junior year to trade my running shoes for dance shoes and quit doing track for drill team but the love of running was still in me. After I graduated, I started running again for weight control and got hooked!

I started doing 5K’s, 10K’s and then half marathons. That led to a desire to complete a full marathon, one of my “bucket list” challenges.
I trained with Kenyan Way running group and ran my first two full marathons. I then decided to stick with half marathons for running and move to my next bucket list challenge…..a triathlon! I joined a gym with a pool and started training on my own. During that time, one of my co-workers found USAFit Cypress and we both joined in 2013. She talked me into running a couple more marathons. I was thrilled to find another running group that was closer to where I live, it sure beat driving into Houston!
I have run 4 full marathons, 11 half marathons, 6 sprint triathlons and 2 mud obstacle races.

I have really enjoyed running with the people in USAFit Cypress. Everyone is so positive and encouraging and the neighborhood is great. Come and join us in this crazy addiction we call running!

Kellye Mathis

Assistant Coach - Red Group

A phone call during the summer of 2012 with the question, “Do you want to run the Princess Half Marathon with me in February 2013 at Disney World?” was what prompted me to start running. At the time, I had never in my life ran more than 2 miles, and even that, was many years prior. If fact, I didn’t know how I would ever get up to 5 miles, much less 13.1 miles. So I looked to USA Fit Cypress for support, and they definitely came through!

Being competitive in nature, USA Fit Cypress taught me that with running I don’t have to try to win, I just need to do my best and finish – and that became my goal “To Finish Standing Up!” And, I did! I started with the Princess Half Marathon and since then have completed numerous half marathons and six full marathons! The support on long and short runs with USA Fit keeps me going. It is so nice, to have the camaraderie, the high fives, the water support, and the pacers each Saturday morning! And sharing running stories, pains, and accomplishments with fellow runners is gratifying!

Although running takes dedication, determination, great friends and consistency to get you where you want to be, running can be FUN! Running can take you all over the world where you have so much in common with so many others just like you. I love to travel and I use running as an excuse to travel. Training with USA Fit has been so rewarding to me and I hope to continue running for many more years.

Pam Mayfield

Assistant Coach - Orange Group

I never thought that I’d be a runner. I was always envious of those that could run and burn more calories in less time. After watching my husband run his first few half marathons, I started to wonder if a girl that never ran before could really learn to run and actually like it. After carrying around baby weight two years after having my second child, I decided to give it a try. I fell in love with it! Actually, it’s a love hate relationship due mainly to the fact that I am the type of person who can think up any excuse not to exercise! Once I get out there, I’m so happy that I did! The USA FIT training program helped me go from being a non-runner to running my first half marathon

If you’re not sure how to squeeze a training program into your schedule, I understand that problem all to well! On some weekends, I bring my youngest in the jogging stroller. I also plan my mid-week runs around my husband’s crazy work schedule and my kids school schedules. There’s usually someone who can be available to run with you during the week if you don’t want to run alone.

Additionally, I love the relationships that I’ve developed with the people in this running club, which keeps me coming back every weekend. I also need the accountability! So, if you’re like me and were never a runner but sort of interested, or you just want to come out and exercise with some really great people, take the plunge and join me!

Kira Richards

Assistant Coach - Orange Group

I always enjoyed walking and some exercise, but I never thought I was a runner! A runner RUNs right? Like not stopping for the whole distance. Right? I discovered how wrong I was in the spring of 2015. I had watched the finish line of the Houston Marathon several years and had several friends run past me. When my job changed and I went from walking 13 miles a day with 42 flights of stairs to sitting behind a computer all day, I decided that I really needed to exercise in my free time.

Through the encouragement of my friends in Cy-Fit I decided to try running. I still believed that all true runners ran the whole distance at a fast for them pace. I continued to be uncertain in my own abilities. But with the encouragement and comradery of the people at Cy-Fit, I made it through my first year of training and my first two half-marathons. The support and encouragement helped me to surpass what I ever thought I could do. Now I love coming out every Saturday morning, meeting up with my run/walker friends, catching up with the week’s happenings, and pushing myself to be the best self I can be. I can’t thank those coaches enough who have been by my side since step one!

Now I believe that I am a true runner and that everybody has a runner inside them. It does not matter how fast or slow you go, it does not matter if you walk a minute out of every three or run the distance. We are all runners. Friendships, comradery and challenge are at the heart of every run. Cy-Fit provides a safe place to start our journey and continue with celebrations of both big and small accomplishments.

Sarah Lopes

Assistant Coach - Green Group

I have been running since I could put one foot in front of the other. It always seemed to make so much more sense; it was faster and funner! As a kid, I ran cross country because it was challenging and fun, and those remain the exact reasons I run today. The joy and clarity it brings is impossible to replicate with anything else for me.

I’ve run distances from 5K to 50 miles on pavement and trails, and my running focus now is to train smart so that I can continue running strong for the rest of my life.

I joined Cy-Fit when I moved to town five years ago, met some incredibly encouraging and strong-willed runners, and began my journey of pushing my limit on distance.

Stephen Kinnison

Assistant Coach - Red Group

My background did not include running. Matter of fact, I disliked running. You could even argue that I hated running.

Being a bigger guy, I stayed away from running and focused on weightlifting. It was a more natural fit. Even being a member of the track team in high school, I found ways to stay out of races and focused on the strength events.

A couple of years ago, after having achieved my iron-pumping goals, I found my self staring at 270 pounds. I needed a new goal and a new challenge. So I decided I would tackle the hardest thing I could think of: running. I only had plans to get to the point of running a 5K, but then I met USA FIT Cypress. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was training for a marathon.

I struggled. I almost gave up. But the coaches kept encouraging me. And November of 2010, I finished the San Antonio Marathon. I went from barely able to run two miles to running 26.2.

After the challenges I went through, I knew I had to come back to help others. So, here I am, enjoying running and hoping to help someone else enjoy running.

Mimi Nguyen

Assistant Coach - Red Group

I used to hate running!  I would marvel at my coworker when she told me that she runs 3 miles around Memorial Park 3 days during the week and 6-9 miles on Saturdays.  I never imagined that I could run 3 miles let alone a marathon. Little by little I started to run with some of my coworkers. The most I ran was a few 10K races.

After the birth of my second child in 2012, I could barely complete a two mile loop. So it was fate that I saw a post from my friend who was running with CyFit. I decided to sign up and train for a half marathon two years ago. I have since ran 5 halves and 3 fulls. This group of amazing runners has changed my life and attitude when it comes to running.  They understand the joy and struggle of running. They have supported me and taught me to believe in myself and be fierce!  I believe that the hardest part of running is having the courage to start so I am super excited to continue with CyFit for my third season.  I look forward to meeting and making new friends, sharing my love of running with you, and supporting you on your running journey!