Taryn has been coaching with GOTR-STL for three seasons. As a counselor in the Parkway School District, her time is split between two elementary schools: Hanna Woods and Sorrento Springs. Taryn brought the program to Sorrento Springs in the spring of 2012 and to Hanna Woods in the fall of the same year.
How did you first hear about Girls on the Run?
It is embarrassing to admit but, when I first heard about Girls on the Run I was completely clueless! Some colleagues shared that their building “isn’t a Girls on the Run school.” I had no idea what a “Girls on the Run school” was! Being a school counselor, I was unsure if this was something I was supposed to have knowledge of; but made up my mind that I would find out. That evening I went home and Googled it.
Within 10 minutes, not only did I know that I had to be a part of this program but I had to get this program started at BOTH of my schools. I quickly sent an email to my principals and decided whichever one responded first got the program. Sorrento Springs held their first season in spring 2012 and Hanna Woods had their first season in fall 2012!
Why did you decide to be a coach?
There are close to 100 reasons as to why I decided to become a coach-one for each girl that I have supported on Girls on the Run. Empowering the girls and increasing their self-esteem is probably one of the most valuable skills we can teach. As a counselor, this is one more way for me to help students at the elementary level who struggle with their self-image. I believe a program like this would have had a huge impact on me growing up as I watch our girls become more self-aware, self-assured and self-confident. This program is all about the girls.
At the end of each season we create a Girls on the Run banner. In the middle it states in big, bold letters “Why We Love Girls on the Run…” we have each girl write something and sign it, as well as the coaches.
For me, Girls on the Run reminds us ALL how truly special, unique and awesome we are!
Personally, I found my love for running through the girls and began to believe in myself as a runner. I won’t ever forget being terrified that I wouldn’t be able to run the 10 minutes required for the first practice when this all started and now I couldn’t imagine not running. Seeing the girls do something they never thought possible that first season inspired me to do something I never thought possible and I found myself registering for my first half marathon when I got home from my first Girls on the Run 5K. I love watching the girls’ confidence grow and being a part of such an amazing group. We accomplish things together that we never thought possible! Being a coach you really do gain just as much from the girls and I truly love it.
How has GOTR-STL impacted the school community?
This program has been a group effort and supported by a collaborative coaching team. One of the things that makes our team so very special is that we approach everything from the “WE” aspect and not an “I.” By approaching things in this manner we are modeling for the girls what “teamwork” really means. We have found amazing support from our administrators, teachers, and the school community. It has caught on like wildfire and now we have teachers, administrators, parents and friends coming to practice at practice partners and running with the girls.
Any favorite memories or stories about GOTR that you would like to share?
There are a ton of memories from Girls on the Run that I could talk about and more come every time we meet. Comments like “you taught me how to love myself” reassure why we are a part of this program. Of course, the things that just make your belly laugh because girls will be girls are also part of what makes coaching so much fun.
During my first season of coaching, one of our very shy quite girls – never one to raise her hand the entire season – asked me to be her running buddy right before our practice 5K. That morning her mom told me she was really excited to run with me. She ran the entire 5k – the only girl that ran the whole thing. She completely shocked herself! It was awesome. We celebrated together and I made sure to tell the PE teachers who then congratulated her in class too. I wanted her to feel proud of that accomplishment even if it was the practice 5K. The following Monday at practice, we were talking about pacing with the girls and asked for someone to volunteer to be a pacer for the group. Her hand SHOT straight up right away with confidence and a huge smile on her face! In a group of 23 girls she was ready to lead. It melted my heart seeing her go from a shrinking violet to a leader in just a matter of days. It was awesome to witness. I will never forget my coaching teammate and I looking at each other with huge smiles on our faces, thrilled to see her ready and willing to take the initiative and lead.
Anything else you would like to share about yourself (family, employment, running accomplishments, hopes/dreams)?
I have an amazing and supportive family, am a daughter, sister and aunt to three nieces and a nephew of whom I am incredibly proud. I’m also a member of the Caring School Community Team at Hanna Woods and Girls on the Run really complements our efforts by teaching the girls what community is all about.
Running has become a love of mine. I trained and completed my first half marathon in October 2012 and completed the GO St. Louis Marathon Relay with some awesome teammates and fellow Girls on the Run coaches in April 2013. I plan to run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon for a second time in October 2013 with fellow Hanna Woods teachers, administrators, friends and anyone who would like to join us!