Girls on the Run is a phenomenal, well run, and positive organization that I could not be more proud to be a part of. As a first year school counselor I was presented with the program, along with a mountain of other responsibilities customary with a new position in a school district which previously did not have school counselors so, I set it aside. I dug my heels in and completed my first and second years of school counseling but I kept being reminded of this program. Other schools in the district were bragging on it, my friends were running with their nieces, daughters, and friends, and everywhere I looked I kept seeing tutus. Finally, in my 3rd year, my co-counselor and I were ready to take the plunge so we contacted Leigh and Lana. Immediately, they came to meet us at our school. They brought us the colorful GOTR information and their excitement to get us off the ground was contagious. Starting a Girls on the Run team can be a daunting task but these ladies answered every question and supported us the whole way. We got to cross the finish line with our 14 sweet girls in for the first time on the coldest day of November in 2015. These were girls who didn’t speak up in classroom lessons, who sat quietly at lunch, who lacked sparkle in their eyes. Watching them proudly walk into school the following Monday with their shirts, their capes, and their medals is one of the proudest experiences I’ve had. They were bonded, knew what it felt like to be included on a team, and began to move past simply surviving their school experience to thriving! Their teachers noticed, our principals noticed, and we couldn’t ignore the profound influence the program had in just 10 short weeks.
For a lead coach, Girls on the Run will have difficult moments, just like any program, but those moments cannot begin to overshadow the moment where a girl realizes her Spring 5K time was faster than her Fall 5K. Or, the moment where a quiet and introverted girl blossoms into a Girls on the Run leader who encourages her teammates to keep going even when it gets tough. Or, the moment where a younger sister finishes her after-school club and runs with the big girls until mom shows up for pickup. Or, the moment where the practice 5K is forced to be in the rain and your staff shows up to run with, cheer on, and celebrate soaking wet 4th and 5th grade girls at the finish line.
These beautiful, confident, and joy-filled girls inspire my confidence, encourage me to push myself, and make me laugh every day. “Girls on the Run is so much fun,” is true, for anyone who chooses to be involved with this outstanding program no matter what level or capacity. As the Spring 2017 season begins I encourage anyone with a daughter to find her a place to participate, and anyone who wants to be changed by an organization to find a place at GOTR to get involved.