Traci is the head coach for Girls on the Run at Meramec Heights in Arnold, MO. She and her husband have three girls of their own, but Traci has “acquired” many more surrogate daughters through her six seasons of coaching at Meramec Heights. When she’s not coaching Girls on the Run or enjoying the smiles and challenges at her own house, she works for BJC Home Care in Alton, IL as a home care social worker.
Traci had always been interested in health and fitness and started running in college for exercise and to help with stress. When she found GOTR, she was so excited at the chance to run more and to be with her girls doing something I enjoyed. The first race she ever participated in was a GOTR 5k in Forest Park during the first season she coached. She describes it as an awesome experience. From there she has run more 5k races, a few 10k races, and completed her first half-marathon this fall on her 40th birthday. She says “the best part about the half-marathon was hearing my 10-year-old tell me, ‘Mom, I want you to win the race, I know you can if you try your best!’ I wanted to laugh (because I knew I was not going to win the race) and cry (because it reminded me why I coach Girls on the Run and why it is such a good program)!”
Hear more from Traci in her own words …
Why did you first get involved with Girls on the Run?
I first got involved with GOTR after seeing an article in the newspaper and thought it would be a great program to bring to my daughter’s school. I have three daughters and had been looking for something that I could get involved in with them. Something that focused on helping them be the best they could be in a healthy way.
What is the most rewarding thing about Girls on the Run that both you’ve experienced and that you’ve seen for the girls you’ve coached?
Seeing the girls smiles and excitement each practice is priceless! I always look forward to practice each week. It is amazing to see how much their confidence grows during the season and how much they support each other along the way. The lessons have been a good reminder for me, too – to be the best person I can be and to stay plugged into the Positive Girls on the Run Cord.
Why would you recommend others get involved as a volunteer for Girls on the Run?
GOTR has been such an amazing program and anyone who gets involved will be impacted in a positive way. I think we, as volunteers, can learn just as much from the girls as they can from us. The girls have such wonderful spirits and it can be contagious. They also remind us that it is good to laugh and have fun.
What’s your favorite Girls on the Run cheer?
Our girls have loved the “dying bug” cheer! We can’t help but laugh each time we all have to lie on the ground with our arms and legs kicking in the air.
Any favorite memories or stories you’d like to share?
One great thing about Girls on the Run is the lifelong relationships you develop with the girls. The girls may have only been in GOTR one season or maybe four seasons, and when they see you in the hall they come running up to say “Hi.” Even the girl who has gone off to middle school will make sure she says hi if she sees you.
What are your hopes for the future of Girls on the Run at your school?
I hope to be able to continue coaching GOTR at my daughters’ school for several more seasons. My youngest daughter is only in second grade and I want to be here for her when she is in GOTR. My hope is that GOTR will also continue on after me, with the help of our amazing teachers that are also coaches and have been a great support to the program.