The Community Coach Connection
Anyone familiar with the Girls on the Run program is aware that it empowers the girls involved for a lifetime of healthy social and emotional living. Yet many new and longtime coaches also express what a game changer Girls on the Run has been for them personally as well.
Most of the coaches are involved in starting up new sites within schools, community centers or other groups, but many of our coaches are people from the community, who jump-in to support different sites every season. Some end up falling in love with a site and stay on to support girls at that particular site season after season. “Unassigned” coaches, or coaches from the community, are an invaluable resource for new coaches as well as the girls.
Cassandra, who has been coaching for several seasons, found that at the end of each season, she always walks away with fresh ideas that she can use at her next school. “I would say that as a community member coach, I have really loved being part of an organization that sets up girls in my community for success - in life and in running. I have also been grateful to be part of equipping girls with tools to thrive in all areas of their life - and the lessons are a good reminder for me, too! Lastly, it's really great working as a team with the girls, and seeing how all of the personalities come together to support each other at the final 5K.”
Community coaches are such a valuable resource for new sites, sites that are now run with newer, less experienced coaches, or sites that could use some fresh faces to keep the energy going. The Girls on the Run and Heart and Sole curriculum is well-written and easy to deliver, but learning how to read and reach out the the girls who need this program the most takes experience and patience. When these skills and talents are shared, then the payoffs for the girls are huge. Can there ever be enough people to be there to demonstrate to a girl with time and talent that she is special and worth it?
Yet, again, the optimism and joy that comes from being a community coach is also immeasurable for the coach themselves. “I feel so blessed when I get a big hug from a girl who comes to practice looking for me - Coach Sue - and says she misses me when I have to miss a practice; GOTR makes me feel valuable when, at the 5k, I found out that one of the girls on the team for the past three years lives with her grandparents and sees her mother infrequently, and knowing that possibly we gave her some female companionship that she could be missing.”
Connection. That is such a beautiful, special, yet often unseen thing that Girls on the Run generates. It takes guts to put yourself out there and say, “I want to help make a difference in my community. Where do you need me the most?” That’s exactly what we hear from coaches volunteering from the community. Even for a coach to see that there’s a need in their community that happens to be at a convenient time and location, then decide to just go for it this time. That willingness to take a chance on each other is what it takes to bring people together in our community in the spirit of hope.
Who are the coaches from the community at your site? Coaches, please give a shout out to your unassigned coaches from past seasons. We’d love to hear from you!