Vanessa Schrader

Vanessa Schrader
Jackson Park Elementary Coach and Member of Young Professionals Board

When did you first get involved with Girls on the Run and why?

I first got involved with GOTR the Fall 2011 season. I’ve always been a runner, I was a competitive cross country and track runner at Illinois College. When I graduated from IC, I was burnt out on running and didn’t run much that year. I stumbled across GOTR, sent an email and simply asked “how can I get involved?” From there I’ve been with Jackson Park Elementary for 5 seasons; and my girls helped me rekindle my love of running in a new 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?

The most rewarding thing for me is that each season I have all-around bettered myself as a person because of my GOTR team. Each lesson is a reminder of how to be a kind person and sometimes as adults we need that reminder. Back in high school or college, I would be too embarrassed to do some of the energy cheers- now I’m that coach at the 5k wearing a tutu, crazy socks with spray painted hair and I love every second of it.

The most rewarding experience I have seen for my girls is at every practice 5k, the girls that finish go back to their other teammates and help them finish their laps together and cheer them on. The fact that they decided on their own to support their other teammates shows me as coach that the GOTR program is positively invokes them. And of course, I love seeing them have fun at the 5k, what coach doesn’t?!

Why would you recommend others get involved as a volunteer for Girls on the Run OR why would you recommend a girl participate in Girls on the Run?

A person should volunteer for GOTR because it was simply change and impact your life in the simplest way. Seeing the joy on a girls face when she realizes that she ran and finished a 5k that she trained for is the most rewarding for me.

A girl should participate in GOTR because they will learn how to take charge of their lives and define their future by gaining a better understanding of themselves and what’s important to them.

What are your hopes for the future of Girls on the Run as an organization?

I hope to see GOTR in every school in the United States and throughout the world. It would be amazing to see young girls in France, Australia, Puerto Rico etc. experiencing the GOTR program like my girls do; because the issues we discuss in practice are what every young girl faces.

What’s your favorite Girls on the Run cheer?

My girls made up a cheer called “olé olé olé.” First you count to three in Spanish then spin around moving your arm as if you were to lasso something, saying “olé olé olé.”

 Any favorite memories or stories you’d like to share?

My favorite memory was when my girls got to meet Molly Barker at our Fall 2013 end of season celebration. Molly spoke to our team and also played games with us. When Molly told us stories, I watched my girls’ faces as she spoke and I could see as she was talking the positive effect she was having over each of the girls differently. That was truly amazing.

 Anything about yourself you’d like to share? Running accomplishments? Family? Place of employment? Hopes and dreams? Favorite ice cream flavor?

My dog Kysa is a GOTR cheerleader. She comes to our practice 5k and the GOTR 5k every season rocking her GOTR bandanna while spray painted with pink polka dots.