Sean English, as the voice of the Revolution3 triathlon series and other events nationwide, was one of the best storytellers to talk the Earth. He traded Wall Street credentials and three piece suits for a microphone and a flat-brimmed cap, and shared the stories of hundreds of thousands of athletes.
English passed away this week following a long battle with cancer, and we now do for him what he did for so many -- share the story of Sean.
Bruce Davis, Owner of Hazard's Cyclesport: I met Sean in July 2005 when he moved to Santa Barbara and joined Hazard’s family. Back then he was a shy, quiet individual. Who am I kidding? Sean’s energy and enthusiasm were entertaining and contagious!
Julie Moss, Wildflower Triathlon: Sean was introduced to us as the “new kid” on the announcing team. He rolled into trailer #17 at Lake San Antonio's and immediately absorbed all the energy and light in the room. This was no small feat, as he managed to outshine (and out-talk) the veteran announcing crew of Eric Gilsenan, Whit Raymond, Don Ryder, Beth Buzza, and me.
Whit took Sean under his wing and schooled him in his signature high-octane announcing style. Sean would soon carve out his own announcing niche with style choices like fleece Fuzzy Duds and Trucker hats.
Bruce: He started announcing at some of our local races, which morphed into many days off as he headed all over the world to entertain and call athletes across the finish line.
Steve Fleck, Race Announcer: My first impression of Sean English: Punk Rock DJ meets Circus Clown meets the Energizer Bunny, all with a massive smile and a booming voice! I first encountered him at Rev3 Quassy, when my wife Paolina Allan and I traveled to race there.
My own announcing career was just getting going in a more serious way after dabbling in it for years. Watching and listening to Sean was a revelation! He was different: crazier, wilder, and edgier than most of us working the microphone at the time. The passion and the fun he was having, and the interaction with everyone--participants, spectators, sponsors--was infectious! I learned a lot that weekend!
Ryan Heisler, Slowtwitch.com: I met Sean at Rev3 Quassy ten years ago, wondering, “who’s the entertaining guy in the black shirt and flat-brimmed hat?” He called somebody across the line, stating, “Oh, you’re Mr. French! Well, I’m Sean English!” He was just so quick on his feet.
Every athlete Sean called across the finish line was the most important call he made that day. You could feel the enthusiasm and authenticity he brought to every aspect of his job. I’ve never seen somebody with so much energy and intensity, who never seemed to burn out.
Bill Risch, Financial Analyst: I had just gotten into tri world, when I met Sean in 2011 at Rev3 Cedar Point. As part of the Wattie Ink team in 2013, I had gotten close to him over post-race dinner and drinks. Sean’s ebullient personality made you want to be around him, and he made every athlete at his races feel like a million bucks.
Karen Sing, Slowtwitch Concierge: I met Sean in April 2016 at the Santa Barbara, CA edition of the Slowtwitch Road Shows hosted by Hazard’s Cyclesports. I arrived to find a full DJ setup with speakers, music, and Sean English, MC, DJ, color commentator, and entertainer. Sean had worked at Hazard’s and as a loyal friend, made the trek to support his friends. His energy was infectious, the show was an absolute blast and success, and the Slowtwitch family gained a brother.
Sean's Work and Impact
Julie: Sean was one of our sport's most passionate fans; crazy for all things triathlon. He loved his clients at Hazard's, Team in Training athletes he coached, training buddies from Santa Barbara Tri Club; but more than anything, Sean loved being on the microphone. All that light and energy he absorbed so effortlessly would be laser-focused and channeled back to athletes and spectators.
My favorite time with Sean was at Scott Tinley’s Dirty Adventures at Lopez Lake. We parked ourselves at the bottom of the Hill Climb on Friday afternoon. Sean's SBTC buddies, Liz and David Groom, would lead the parade of stocked coolers and snack trays for a happy hour. Where Sean went, the party followed.
Bruce: Our friends and customers shared countless stories about how great it was, hearing Sean call them across the finish line. When he came to announce the Santa Barbara Tri this past August, all he wanted to talk about was how cool it was going to be for him to call in my son, who was racing. Kevin was so excited to hear Sean call his name, but I know Sean was just as excited, if not more. What a great guy!
Ryan: He’d be first at post-race staff bar events to make sure that everyone’s drinks were full and frequently bought the next round. We’d run and discuss life, business ideas, and Kona qualifying dreams. Life got in the way of that last one pretty quickly. He was the proverbial guy who always had your back.
The Rev3 Branson race was a logistically challenging event for everybody. It was the fourth event in eight weeks, and two weeks after the full distance at Cedar Point, OH. Yet, there was Sean, dialing up the energy level for everybody during the race, and ensuring we all relaxed afterward, cigars in hand, at a beer bar.
Bill: As I stepped away from triathlon to focus on my career, I saw Sean when he visited his longtime friend here in New York. His stories always had you locked in to listen, doubled over laughing, or both.
In the Face of Cancer
Ryan: In 2016, Sean revealed to me what was going on with his cancer, and that his first big treatment would be on his birthday (August 22nd). As it turned out, our daughter Ivy was scheduled to be born via C-Section the same day.
Sean was so excited about the prospect of having a tiny birthday twin. That morning of August 22nd, Sean’s first order of business was to razz me about how I looked in hospital scrubs. Of course, on such a day, he’s making sure that everyone else was well supported! After his treatment, he called to see how we were all doing. Hearing Ivy squawk in the background, you felt the joy in his voice.
Bill: When Sean called to tell me he was sick, my heart broke. It was devastating to know there was a chance he may not be with us much longer, and also that future athletes wouldn’t get to experience an awesome dude.
Steve: When I found out that Sean had cancer in 2016, I reached out to him to express my support. We were both at Interbike that September, and there he was, cruising the trade show on a mobility scooter and taking people for joy rides at high speed - smiles and laughter all around! He was determined to get to Kona the following month, and I said, "Come and help me emcee the Slowtwitch Party." "That would be awesome,” was Sean's response.
Karen: Sean got in touch with me, explained he’d be in Kona, and offered his services. He mentioned his Stage IV cancer diagnosis, but he had a lot of living to do. He introduced me to the F*ck Cancer organization and program manager Jayson Williams. His trip to Kona was a grant as part of their D2L (Dying to Live) Program, which is a “Make A Wish” program for adults with cancer.
Sean, Steve, and Vegas DJ Wes Hollero brought the party to a new level. In 2018, and just 5 weeks ago, Sean was in Kona supporting the F*ck Cancer Foundation, his fellow grantees, Challenged Athletes, and everyone else along the way. The dulcet tones of Steve Fleck and Sean English boomed across Kona bay, welcoming our 2019 guests and keeping the fun rolling.
Steve: I so enjoyed working the Slowtwitch Party with Sean those three years!
Ryan Over the last couple of years we kept chatting about getting together, but we just couldn’t make it happen. We always connected via video on his and Ivy’s birthdays. Ivy loved being able to wish “Uncle Sean” a happy birthday on their shared day.
Karen: Sean was a generous and outgoing guy, donating time and voice to numerous non-profits over the years. As his cancer progressed, those charities, including the Talbert Family Foundation, The Mike Nosco Foundation, and the F*ck Cancer Foundation/Triathlon Team, stepped into support him. Everyone who’d ever met or worked with Sean was happy to help.
Steve: Sean faced this battle with cancer like any top-level athlete would - with grit, will, bravery, grace, class, and a sense of humor. He recorded it all - the good and the bad, in a regular Facebook vlog. As when I first heard him at Quassy years ago, I learned a tremendous amount, and we are all better for witnessing this first hand.
Bruce: Sean and I talked frequently; he knew this day was coming and was prepared for it. When we talked about his attending the Mike Nosco ride a couple weeks ago, he couldn’t say enough about the gratitude he felt for the athletic community supporting him. In the past few months, Sean was able to go to Kona, go to Nosco, visit us in Santa Barbara, and then go east to perform a wedding for some close friends. I like to think that he lived the “F*ck Cancer” motto to the fullest.
Karen: Fighting the pain and disability that came with advanced cancer was clearly taking a huge toll, but he bravely brought us along on his journey via social media. As transparent as he was, there was no way we could truly understand the loneliness and uncertainty that went along with that journey. I won’t lie, it was awful watching our friend go down that road alone. Yes, that was a finish line he had to cross on his own. But boy, I am gonna miss the energetic, loud, enthusiastic, warm, and authentic self that was Sean.
Steve: The ultimate end of this was daunting and scary, but Sean was making it all about the journey - living in the moment and savoring each of those moments. F*ck Cancer, indeed!
Ryan: I’m still in the triathlon industry today thanks in no small part to Sean English. Rest easy, brother.
Bill: What started as a friendship that was brought together via triathlon definitely became someone who I definitely call a friend and will miss dearly. Vaya con dios, mi amigo, you may have passed, but you’ll never be forgotten.
Steve: His booming voice may be silenced and whirling dervish delivery style stopped, but his impact on many has been profound and will be long lasting. Sean English - RIP!
Julie: Sean English is unforgettable. He possessed a larger-than-life personality and the kind of boundless energy that could leave you exhausted from trying to keep up.Sean, we will miss you but your flame will continue to cast an incandescent light over the sport you loved so much.
Karen: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." But I'm gonna cry anyway.
To read more stories of Sean, or to add yours, please visit our forum thread.
Photo Credits: Eric Wynn and Aaron Palaian