In late January, a friend posted on her Facebook that her Girls on the Run site was in need of at least one additional coach. There was only one coach (her) and each site ideally has three. I had been hemming and hawing about coaching Girls on the Run and after telling my friend, she encouraged me to sign up to coach. She said that I would be a strong role model for the girls because the focus is being a strong woman with a healthy mind and body. So, after thinking it over for a bit I said, “Why not!" I immediately filled out the volunteer application and was on my way to volunteering!
Girls on theRun is a 12-week program for 8 to 12-year old girls (mostly 3rd to 6th graders). During the program, the girls learn important life lessons and skills. They learn about choosing healthy foods, how to stand up to bullies, how to express emotions, and much more – all while they train to run a 5K. Each lesson helps the girls learn more about themselves, their potential, and the idea of “being me”. At the end of the season the girls participate in a community race with all the other Girls on the Run teams in the area, friends, family, volunteers, etc.
When Jenelle mentioned the need for a coach, I thought the program sounded fun. At the same time, I had absolutely no clue what I was getting into. I mean, I have baby-sat, been a Y counselor, etc. Unfortunately, this didn’t really prepare me as well as I had hoped for staring into the eyes of 15 young girls that were expecting me to lead them through a lesson and workout. Oh my…I was so nervous those first couple weeks!!
As freaked out as I was, there was no need! It went great! GOTR quickly became my favorite part of the week. Most weeks, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons could not get here fast enough. I enjoyed coaching so much, even with a few bumps in the road, that I am coaching again in the fall!
I learned that each girl hears things different. I learned that each girl is motivated differently. I learned that strips of paper to count laps can make an awesome paper chain that the girls want to see finished! I learned all kinds of awesome lessons from these girls. I also learned that if you enjoy something and are passionate about it, it isn’t work. This experience transformed my view of myself, helped me understand communication with others, and so many more things.
I am not gonna sugar-coat it… Sometimes, I dreaded going to GOTR. Sometimes I wasn’t in the mood to do a particular lesson. Sometimes I was tired and just wanted to go home. But, once I got there – it was great! I always left with a smile on my face and a desire to tell more people about my experiences.
While I will miss our girls, I am looking forward to meeting another 15 spunky little girls in September!
Want to get involved? You don’t have to coach! There are other ways to help!