“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way.”
– Julie Isphording, Marathon winner
So, how many of you have heard of Girls on the Run?
Now, wait a minute. All you non-runners…get back here. Not so fast. I know how you are. “Oh great, another blog about running. I’m not a runner. I’m out.” Well, hold it there, missy. (Or mister.) Stick around for a second. I want to tell you about something pretty awesome. (Especially those of you with daughters…you’re going to want to hear this.)
I spent my day today getting to know about Girls on the Run. Now, I had heard of it before, of course, as I’m sure many of you have. And, like many of you, I assumed that this was some kind of school “running team.” I mean, it’s called Girls on the Run. It must be girls running, right?
Well, yeah. That’s partly true. But, wow. There is soooo much more to it than that.
I have recently been given the awesome opportunity to be an assistant coach for a Girls on the Run team in my area – Ashe County, North Carolina. See this pretty lady here to the right? That’s Natalie Foreman. Although the two of us didn’t know each other that well, our shared love of writing caused our paths to cross a short while back. She’s a local editor who happened to be the one reviewing an essay I’ve written for an upcoming anthology. And that essay just happened to be about…you guessed it…running. And just before Natalie had read that essay, she had been toying with the idea of getting a Girls on the Run program started in our area. She had done all the research, checked into all the details of securing a location, etc. But what was she missing? An assistant coach. And Fate, as she so often does, just happened to drop a runner’s essay on her desk.
So, Natalie gave me a call.
And here we were today, two practical strangers, headed to a coaches’ meeting.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I had done a little research on my own, of course, but I still didn’t realize what all was involved with the program. Again, I had it in my head that we were going to go to this coaches’ meeting and they were going to teach about us about different exercises, different methods to teach the girls to increase their running distances week-by-week, etc. But nope. That’s not what happened at all.
I walked away from that coaches’ meeting feeling like I knew everyone in the room. Especially Natalie. And I walked away feeling like I could actually succeed at coaching for this Girls on the Run program.
How did that happen? Well, it’s like this.
The program director taught us how to teach the kids. She put us in a setting that the girls would be in. She showed us the different games, conversations, techniques, etc., that the students would be going through in our program. For today, we were the students.
We got to know each other. We got to know our likes, our dislikes. We got to know our vast array of personalities and how each of us could still get along and come together for a common goal…not only despite our differences, but because of them. We came away from that meeting knowing that a group of drastically different strangers, could walk away a few hours later as friends. We walked away feeling confident in ourselves, feeling special because of the little idiosyncrasies that made each of us different from one another, and feeling beautifully unique. And most importantly, we walked away excited for the next time that we could all be together.
And that, my friends, is what Girls on the Run is all about.
Do you know a 3rd-5th grade girl that lives in or around the Ashe County area? Well, I know two women who started the day as strangers and ended it as friends, who absolutely can’t wait to show that little girl how that happens. Life is so hard for girls these days. Maybe it always has been, but I just feel like it’s just a tad harder now. There’s so much media and peer pressure to be a certain way, or act a certain way, or…worst of all…to look a certain way. What these girls need is an outlet. A place to come to feel safe. To feel like they can be themselves…where differences are celebrated, not shunned. And where they will get to have a fun, playful workout in the process.
Here’s a quick rundown of the details for you local peeps:
- Meetings will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. at Westwood Elementary School. (Students do not have to attend Westwood Elementary to participate – that is just the meeting location.)
- Meetings technically start this Tuesday, September 9, but if you haven’t signed up by then, it’s not too late! (We have about two weeks to get all the registrations in.)
- This is a 12-week program, that will culminate in a 5K race for the girls in all area Girls on the Run programs on December 6, 2014.
- Coaches are head coach, Natalie Foreman (who is a runner and has a third grade girl herself), and myself (who wishes her daughter was still young enough to participate, but who is also a runner and absolutely adores working with kids!). We will also have a part-time assistant coach, Thea Van Sickle Young, who will be available to help out on Tuesdays.
- Sign-up and other info can be found by clicking here. (There is a cost to the program, but reduced fees are available to kids who receive free/reduced price school lunches.)
- Girls on the Run of the High Country Facebook link can be found here.
And there you have it, folks.
If you have read this blog and are local, please do Natalie and me a favor. Will you share this? We just know that there is a girl out there who needs this program. (We know there are many girls who need it actually.) And the only way they’ll know about it is if they hear about it. Help us spread the word. Without a certain number of girls signed up, we will not be able to proceed with the program. We really don’t want to see that happen. Our hearts are in this, and we know how much the girls need it.
Help us make a difference, won’t you?
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Click on the flyer below for a little more info and…share, share, share! And, of course, let me know if you have any questions or need more info!
Let’s start a new generation of healthy, happy, confident girls, shall we?
“The woman who starts the race is not the same woman who finishes the race.”
-Sign at the Nike Women’s Marathon