Girls on the Run 2008 Recap

About 2 weeks ago I finished my first season as a coach for Girls on the Run (GOTR). For people who are unfamiliar with the program, volunteer coaches from the community sign on for 10 weeks to train 3rd to 5th grade girls for a 5K while teaching them age-appropriate lessons (e.g. values, promises, self-esteem, communication, healthy choices). I love running, kids and volunteering… this was the perfect opportunity for me. So, some of my favorite moments from the season (with thanks to my co-coach Megan whose pictures I used):

Community Service Project

One of our lessons was a community service project that the girls planned and we made cards for soldiers.

While we did this, I was speaking with the girl above about my trip to Antarctica and the conversation went something like this:

S: You’re going to Antarctica, right?  Are you going to die?

Me: Um, I hope not. In fact I hope to take pictures of penguins and when I come back I’ll send them to you.

S: (pause) … I like penguins! But if you do die, I’ll go to your funeral.

Thanks…? Other cool moments were when two of our older girls broke out and recited the entire Gettysburg address completely spontaneously! I am so proud that our girls are so sweet, such great athletes and smart cookies, too! And three girls worked together to make a card. One accidentally wrote “Dare” instead of “Dear” and they ended up with a card that said “Dare to be brave.” I couldn’t think of anything more fitting!

Coaching Highlights

I have so many great memories from coaching, but two really stand out, for very different reasons.

The girl in the picture above, on the right, was a little spark plug. She had so much energy and always had a smile. Once she ran by me and she had been going for what seemed like forever. I was cheering her on and telling her to keep it up and as she sped by she only yelled…. “I….. AM…. HYPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!” I think everyone who witnessed it was just doubled over in laughter because she was such a great source of energy. I will definately be channeling her for my next marathon. I should also note that at the end of the season she won the “Most Likely to Stand Tall” award because whenever we asked the girls what their favorite promise to themselves was, she would reply “I promise to stand tall because I’m short!”

Unlike our other little balls of energy, we had a small handful of girls who were really hard to get moving when we started. One really stood out and at times she confided in the coaches that the kids made fun of her and that she didn’t really like herself. At first, she was very unsure of herself and she would walk more than she would run and it was tough to get her to participate. But over time she started not only to open up, but to participate, run, and smile while she did it. One day she came up to me and asked for a challenge. I told her to run two laps without stopping and come back and do situps. She did that, got lots and lots of praise and went off to walk the next lap. When she came around again, she asked for another challenge. This time: three laps. While she was on her 2nd lap another girl (K) came up and asked for a challenge. I told her to wait until the first girl (A) finished her laps so that the two of them could run together. Not only did they run together, but they cheered each other on the whole time. At the end of the session, we have girls nominate another girl who did something good to lead the stretches. K nominated A because the A motivated her!  I was SO PROUD. Here’s a picture of A finishing the 5K with Sarah, my Antarctica companion, and another one of the other coaches:

Wondergirl 5K

It was a miserable day for a 5K. I woke up and wondered if there was any way I could possibly pull of staying home. It was cold and rainy. Poor Lisa, (bottom left) was shivering and chattering But, in spite of it, most of our girls and their parents toughed it out and made it anyway! I am so proud of their accomplishment! Here’s a picture of the coaches running while shedding clothes to pass off to Megan…

…and me and Sarah with one of the girls at the finish line. This girl broke her foot something like 3 weeks before the race and finished anyway!

What did we get out of GOTR?

  • Almost all of our girls have now run a 5K!
  • They’ve helped support our troops
  • They’ve learned about how to stay healthy physically and emotionally. I found out at the end-of-season banquet that one of our girls had a big falling out with her friends at school during the season. Her dad said that because of the lessons she learned at GOTR and the friends she made there she was able to cope with it really well.
  • They made friends! Even though they were different ages and from different schools at the end-of-season banquet they all sat at the same table together.
  • I really benefited from their positive energy and they really motivated and inspired me.

I can’t wait to coach next year! (That is, if I don’t die a slow, painful, penguin-induced death while in Antarctica )