Back in September 2010, my friend Jen asked me if I would like to co-coach a Girls on the Run troop. I said, “Sure!” because the program combined my two favorite things: running and building self-esteem.
Girls on the Run is a 12-week program for third – fifth graders. Over the course of 24 lessons, the girls learn important life lessons and skills, like how to stand up to bullies and how to choose healthy foods, while they train to run a 5K. The lessons help uncover their extraordinary potential and celebrate their awesome uniqueness. At the end of the season, the girls run a community race with hundreds or thousands of other Girls on the Run girls, parents, and volunteers.
When Jen asked me to coach, I thought the program sounded fun. But I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into! On the first day, I stared down at the expectant faces of 15 eight – ten year old girls and realized that I had never actually babysat or had any serious one-on-one interaction with kid under the age of fifteen. I realized that Jen and I were totally outnumbered. And suddenly, I got very, very nervous.
But you know what? It worked out! GOTR quickly became my favorite part of the week. I liked coaching so much that I signed up to be a head coach the next season, and the Husband joined me as the co-coach.
GOTR taught me how to talk to kids (they are people – not aliens!), and in exchange, the girls taught me so much.
I learned how to motivate the girls to run. I learned to bring napkins when I bake cupcakes. I learned to always carry Band-Aids. I learned that crepe paper makes perfect finish line tape. I learned that everyone likes to see pictures of themselves tearin’ it up around a track. I learned that rain never hurt anyone, but it does make little kids cry hysterically. And I learned that if you listen, kids will tell you some important stuff.
Above all else, I learned that if you are passionate about a cause, it doesn’t feel like work.
The latest season of GOTR is beginning in just a few weeks, and the Husband and I will be returning to coach a new group of girls. My friend Kim is joining the team as another co-coach.
Not going to lie – sometimes, on the way to GOTR, I dread teaching the next lesson. After all, coaching GOTR is a big volunteering commitment when you work a full-time job – five hours a week for three straight months. But once I arrive, I always feel so excited and energized. I leave feeling proud, uplifted, and accomplished. What we give to the girls is so important, but what the girls give to the coaches – well, I struggle to put the girls’ powerfully positive impact on me into words.
Volunteering can change your life. This is not a platitude. This is the truth. GOTR is good for my body, mind, and spirit. Coaching GOTR really transformed the way I see myself, my Husband, and children.
If you are stressed out about life or work a job that leaves you feeling drained and unhappy, try volunteering. You can even train for a race to raise money for GOTR – perfect for busy folk!
GOTR stamps out my negative thoughts and encourages me to become a better role model.
The most wonderful thing about GOTR is that the program teaches the girls and the coaches that there is something special about everyone. We are all unique and amazing and talented and FUN.
Our new season starts in the middle of September. And I CANNOT WAIT! I need the GOTR positivity in my life as soon as possible!
- Want to get your daughter involved in GOTR? Check out the website for a location near you – registration is SOON!
Are you a GOTR coach or volunteer? What kind of volunteering do you do? How has it transformed your life?