Jenna is the Head Coach at McNair Elementary in the Hazelwood School District and a Superstar SoleMate running the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon in April.
Jenna is inspired by the emphasis GOTR puts on each girls’ unique talents and inner beauty. Like so many of our coaches – she wishes she’d had the program when she was in grade school!
Here’s what else Jenna had to say in her own words …
How did you first hear about Girls on the Run?
The counselor at my previous school began GOTR and I was a practice partner. When I transferred to my new school, the first thing I asked my new principal was whether or not we could be a new site for GOTR because I had such an amazing experience with our students and wanted to share it with more girls!
Why did you decide to be a coach?
When I was in 5th grade my family moved to Florida from New York. I was already 5’10 and needless to say, taller than all my classmates. Not only was I the new girl, but I had to endure 5th grade girls who were not the nicest and teased me and were not welcoming. I wish GOTR existed for me during that time to give me the confidence I needed to foster healthy self-esteem. I believe in the GOTR philosophy, program, the positive energy and how it impacts everyone who participates. I was determined to have our school as a GOTR site because I knew it would benefit several of my students.
Your team won the Bill and Amy Koman Award for Excellence in Community Service this past fall. Could you please tell us a little bit about your project?
This was such an honor for our team. My good friend’s cousin, who is from Missouri, is an airman based in Texas. Since our community service project was close to Thanksgiving, I thought it would be more meaningful for our girls to write to servicewomen to share what GOTR meant to them. We thanked the women for their service to our country and shared how we were training for a 5k as a team. Plus, we wanted to bring some joy to them during the holidays since they wouldn’t be with their families. We also included a team picture of us before we ran our practice 5k.
Why did you decide to become a SoleMate?
After our fall season was over, I wanted to do more for the girls. The GOTR-STL passion for encouraging young women to choose positive paths greatly inspired me. I used to hate running but GOTR changed that. My dad used to run marathons, my mom was a runner, and my sister has completed half marathons, marathons and is now training for a 50 mile race! I wondered whether the running gene skipped me. A year ago, if you told me that I would have run two times a week to train for a 5k, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, a 5k run is my minimum mileage during the week. GOTR changed my idea of running so I decided to train for my first half marathon! The SoleMate program is a great motivator to stick to my training plan especially since all of my wonderful friends and family have donated to GOTR-STL in support of me and the local program.
Any favorite memories or stories about GOTR that you would like to share?
As a head coach, when I prepared for our lessons, the themes impressed me with the focus on inner beauty and strength. I love how the program celebrates each girl’s uniqueness and intelligence. I loved every moment of our fall season. Our team will always be special to me because I witnessed our girls experience their self-realizations of how awesome they are. To see their excitement when we ran the 5k will make me smile forever.