The Million Coaches Challenge: A Good Coach Can Change Everything 

What is one thing that sets Girls on the Run apart from many other after-school programs and sports teams? Our amazing volunteer coaches! Almost 37,000 coaches volunteer to lead teams from coast to coast every year. We provide them with the materials, training, and ongoing support needed to deliver our research-based curriculum to their teams. 

In 2021, Girls on the Run was selected to be a part of the Million Coaches Challenge (MCC), a group of leading organizations in the youth sport space funded by the Susan Crown Exchange.  The three-year initiative is enhancing the Girls on the Run National Coach Training model, allowing us to reach and train 70,000 new coaches across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Let’s learn more from Kevin Connors, senior director of the Susan Crown Exchange, about the Million Coaches Challenge. 

What is the Million Coaches Challenge? 

The Million Coaches Challenge is a group of 11 organizations working to change the conversation around what it means to be a good coach. Together, this group is committed to training one million coaches in youth development techniques by 2025. The Susan Crown Exchange is funding this ambitious effort to bring critical training to coaches across the country. Through this challenge, we believe we can build a future where our kids know how to work together, celebrate success, manage failure, and are equipped with the skills they need to thrive.  

Why was Girls on the Run chosen to be part of the challenge? 

Your coach training model was a great fit for this initiative. We know that Girls on the Run annually trains about 25,000 new coaches across its network of 166 local councils through your National Coach Training. Your combination of online and in-person training prepares coaches to deliver your evidence-based curriculum, use trauma-sensitive strategies, prevent child sexual abuse, build relationships, create a positive, inclusive environment where program participants can be themselves, and cultivate a mastery climate. We are happy to enhance your training even more through the MCC. 

Why should kids participate in physical activity programs? 

38 million young people play sports. Sports build key skills like teamwork, compassion, and responsibility by combining physical activity, play, and collaboration. These skills help kids thrive on the field, in the classroom, and in life. Plus, being a part of a team provides kids with a space to be active and have time with their friends. But the average child today spends less than three years playing a sport, quitting by age 11. Why? Most often because the sport just isn’t fun anymore. As leaders of the sport setting, coaches can shape the conditions that make or break it for kids. 

Why is it important to have trained coaches? 

Coaches shape the youth sports experience, but many feel unprepared to meet the diverse and emergent needs of the young people they coach. In fact, less than one third of the country’s six million coaches have been trained in youth development practices. To create a positive environment that helps kids get the most out of sport, coaches must be trained in youth development. Coaches report that existing training is either too costly, too time consuming, too hard to implement, or fail to incorporate youth development practices. Regardless of their family’s income, their gender, their race, or their ability status, youth need access to coaches who are well-versed in youth development and skill-building techniques that help kids succeed on and off the field. We are working to change that, one coach at a time a million times over. Take a look at this video to learn more and read the Million Coaches Challenge belief statement to learn more about why we feel all coaches should be trained.