Girls on the Run is So Much Fun!

At the end of last year I was out on a run (and probably complaining about it on Instagram) when I got a message from a parent from my school. She mentioned that students in her class at the local university were coaching Girls on the Run as part of a class project and thought it would be something I’d like to do at our school.

I had heard about GOTR through social media and a few other things, but hadn’t really thought much about coaching or getting involved. I coached Cross Country at my school last year and that was my first experience with coaching anything, so I was interested to see what GOTR was all about.

We got in touch with the director, met with my principal, and applied for our school to become a site for GOTR over the summer. I also learned that a new teacher we’d hired was previously a coach and would also be interested in coaching…and Girls on the Run was born at my school.

Coach Ashley and Coach Randee in our matching shirts!

There were some logistical things to work out (still are) but we wrapped up our first week on a positive note and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season!

If you’re wondering what Girls on the Run even is, here’s a little information for you about their core values:

  • Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Stand up for ourselves and others

Now, I’m a second grade teacher and the program is for 3-5 and 6-8 grade girls. I love these values and everything GOTR stands for. I believe it’s something my school tries to instill in all of our students and I’m so glad we got to bring this program in to help empower some of our girls.

I was nervous about whether or not we would have girls sign up, but we actually had so many that we had to bring in another coach and waitlist some girls for next season. A lot of these girls I’ve known since they were either in kindergarten or second grade, and some of them are my former students. I love the fact that some of my girls signed up because I was the coach, but I truly hope that they learn and grow from this program. What we’ve seen so far has been a lot of fun. The girls are eager to learn and participate in the lessons (even if I’m still learning them too!), they are already helping us problem solve (because it rains in Florida every afternoon), and they are learning how to encourage others. They had fun running inside last week when we had to move for rain and made the most of it!

It’s been one week. Two days! I am so looking forward to seeing these girls grow. I know there are some who will only enhance themselves and their own values, but there are also those that struggle. The older girls are getting to points where everyday is a challenge and there’s always something new to discourage them. Some of these girls are doing a lot of activities and are already learning to make choices about what they are good at and what they want to do. Some of them just need to know that someone is there for them to lend them a positive outlook on life.

The program allows girls to set their own running goals each week as they increase their time spent running and build up their stamina. So far our running has been minimal, but the girls are still having fun and setting goals for themselves.

Kyndall kept us (me) entertained while running and exceeded her run goal.

Presley set a goal and exceeded it. She’s a rockstar!

I’m already loving seeing these girls and their passion for running and fitness, and it’s only been one full week. Like I said, I can’t wait to see what these girls can and will do. I feel privileged to be their coach.

My First Coach: A Father’s Day Post

I’ve written before about how a big part of my running inspiration is my mom. She was the marathoner, the mountain climber, the skier and the outdoors woman who brought me along on her adventures so that I would learn an appreciation for the things she loved. She taught me a lot about endurance and finding that  little bit extra deep down to keep going.

My mom played a big role in my development as an athlete, but I didn’t realize most of it until I was an adult.
Dad 1But this post is actually about my dad. Father’s Day is this weekend, and it seemed like a perfect time to reflect on everything he has taught me.

He was my first coach – putting  a basketball in my hands for the first time. Buying me a hoop so I could practice lay-ups and free throws in my driveway. Volunteering to coach every team I played on until I was 12.
FullSizeRender (1)Each high school game I played, I knew where I could find him: sitting in the top row of the bleachers, watching, taking it all in. After the game, he’d have feedback – and even when I was upset with myself or didn’t want to hear his critique, he was patient with me. I always knew he was right, I just didn’t always like admitting it.
dad 3
Before every game, he would give me a tip of the day. Anything from “block out” to “drive the lane” – his one tip was always something I did well to remember as I took the court. For an away tournament, he gave me a note card with tips of the day on it so that I could have his advice with me even when he couldn’t be there to watch.

When I went to play basketball in college, that notecard came with me, and lived in my gym bag. It traveled to every game even though my dad couldn’t. My dad would call or text those tips of the day before each game, too, so that I was never without my first coach.

I still have this notecard... it lives in my desk at work and it's still useful. "Head up" is just good life advice.

I still have this notecard… it lives in my desk at work and it’s still useful. “Head up” is just good life advice.

Playing basketball taught me more lessons than I could enumerate. About leadership, about working as a team, about repetition and working hard and not giving in. All practical on the court, but even more applicable to life. Lessons I wouldn’t have learned as well if my dad hadn’t fostered my growth as an athlete for all those years.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

His guiding hand has always been there for me, helping me navigate sticky situations, like teaching me how to deal with my 401K. My dad is the king of planning and lists and I absolutely picked that trait up from him, too. He’s goofy (see Exhibit A), he’s funny, he knows more sports trivia than anyone I know. But more importantly, my dad CARES. He cares for his family and for his friends. His heart is big and he goes miles beyond for someone in need. Literal miles. He has traveled halfway across the country on multiple occasions to help family through heavy and trying times. My dad has taught me more about what it means to be a good and kind human being than anyone else, because he lives it. Every day.

I know many people for whom Father’s Day is not a day of celebration – their fathers have been lost to them for some reason or another. On this day, I wish them peace and send them love – I can’t take away the pain or sadness they feel.
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But I’m extraordinarily grateful to be able to celebrate my dad, because I’m extraordinarily grateful that my life has him in it. He is one of the best things about who I am. And he’s still giving me tips of the day.