Cassie Cusick is a program parent and volunteer coach! We are so grateful for her support!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Cassie Cusick. This is my first season coaching GOTR at Woerther Elementary in Ballwin, MO. I am coach to my daughter, Peyton, who is in her 5th year at Woerther. My husband, John, makes three. With Peyton being an only child, we’ve always been able to give her our undivided attention. This and the fact that we do almost everything together as a family keeps us close and supportive of each other’s passions. As a family, we love to travel, hike, bike, walk, run, zip line, rock climb and cook. I wear a necklace with a compass symbolizing our love of exploring. It’s a reminder that life is about the journey; it’s a series of twists and turns, with exciting new discoveries. We embrace every opportunity to try something different or go someplace new. Our calendars are always booked. Our friends & family find our adventures exhausting; we consider ourselves lucky!
I am also very appreciative of the people that made coaching Girls on the Run a reality for me! First, I want to thank my fellow GOTR superstar coaches (Jen, Christy, Kim, Jamie, Robin, and Melinda) for accepting me into their super awesome club; I can see why they would want to keep all the fun to themselves – Girls on the Run is SO MUCH FUN!!! Second, I’d like to thank my employer for allowing me the flexibility to adjust my schedule so I can join in on the fun! And finally, I owe all I am to my family! Without their encouragement, none of this would have been possible. Love to you all!
Why did you choose to volunteer/get involved with GOTR-STL?
Fall 2014 was my first experience with Girls on the Run. I had signed our daughter, Peyton, up to participate and little did I know, I too would experience what it meant to literally be a girl on the run. It came time to find Peyton a running buddy for the 5k race and I went down my very short list of running friends and decided that if I was going to encourage Peyton run, then I really should encourage myself do it too. I started with the training plan provided by GOTR and then we hit the track. I would start with 1 lap running and 1 lap walking. Within two months, I was running the full 9 track laps that it took to complete 3 miles. I felt stronger and more powerful than I had ever felt. I ran the 5k with Peyton in November 2014 and from then on, I’ve been a girl on the run. My experience has impacted my entire family’s life – we are now a family of 5 runners (myself, John, Peyton, my mom, and my sister)! As a family, we made a commitment to run a 5k every month for a year. On November 14, 2015 (race day), John and I will have officially completed sixteen 5ks and one 10k! Peyton has kept pace with sixteen 5ks and one kid’s Tri-Athlon – she even finished first in her age group in two of those 5ks! We have no intentions of stopping. It was because of our experience and new found love of running that I wanted to give back to GOTR-STL.
What is the most rewarding thing about Girls on the Run?
The relationships with the girls and my fellow coaches have been the most rewarding aspect of GOTR! I look forward to going to practice and being a cheerleader for our 34 phenomenal girls! Without Girls on the Run, I would never have had the opportunity to meet and bond with some of these amazing girls & women! This experience also brought Peyton and I closer together; I’m reminded daily of how strong and confident she is and I’m in awe of the person she is becoming! Peyton is courageous, ambitious, intelligent, passionate, and talented. It is her drive and outlook on life that encourages me to be a better person. I’m volunteering to give back to her, to show her that it’s okay to take chances and put yourself out there, even if you are unsure of the outcome. To show all of our girls just how awesome it is to be a girl!
How has GOTR-STL impacted your life?
GOTR-STL has motivated & challenged me to be my very best – whether it be mentally, emotionally, or physically. I find myself plugging in that “positive cord” daily and being the absolute best I can be for my family, friends, and co-workers. GOTR was supposed to be a way for me to give back, but I ended up learning so much about myself and was delightfully rewarded by this experience!
My favorite memory was from our third practice, I went out the night before practice and chalked the track with “I AM” statements: I AM Special, I AM Unique, I AM Beautiful, I AM Strong, I AM Amazing, and I AM Wonderful. The girls didn’t see the chalk art until the workout portion of the practice and initially I wasn’t sure what they thought of it. During wrap up, they surprised me with an Energy Award to show their appreciation. They gave me a great big Superstar Award and then one of the third grade girls ran up to me and wrapped her tiny little arms around me and gave me a huge hug!! It was the first of many times that they brought me to tears! It was then that I realized that I had absolutely made the right decision to coach and couldn’t wait to see what the rest of our season held!!
Why would you recommend others get involved with Girls on the Run?
8 words: Girls on the Run is SO MUCH FUN! The lessons, the activities, the girls, the coaches, and the friendships are incredibly positive and full of energy. I leave every practice with a sense of accomplishment. I know that this curriculum is providing girls with life-changing tools that empower them to be strong, confident, and healthy girls. I see it first-hand at every practice – it’s been amazing watching our 34 girls transform right before our eyes! In such a short 10 weeks, new friendships were formed, voices were found, our community was strengthened, and our girls are ready for their next big challenge!!
What are your hopes for the future of Girls on the Run as an organization?
I’d like to see the St. Louis council continue to share Molly Barker’s mission and grow the program to more schools and more girls. Over the past 3 weeks I’ve heard of two heart-breaking instances of bullying that continues to plague girls in our region. Luckily, these two girls had champions in their life to listen, respond, and point them in the right direction. But all too often, this isn’t the case. If only the mission could extend beyond the lives already touched. I want people to know that this program is not just a running program; running almost becomes secondary to the values being instilled in our girls through Girls on the Run.