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Ode to Coaching

By Pamela Young on 05/06/2015 | General

Everyone at Girls on the Run headquarters coaches a Girls on the Run team at some point, and I started my first stint as a coach this spring. I have to admit I was pretty nervous about it. Yes, I’m passionate about our mission and the empowering work we do. I just don’t have much experience with children other than my own. I’m also not in very fit shape. So a twice-weekly program with little girls and running? Yikes.

But Girls on the Run believes that good things can happen when you stretch yourself and dare to try new things. So it’s with that spirit that I approached my role as assistant coach to a group of fourteen girls at an elementary school site that’s part of Girls on the Run’s Charlotte, NC, council. My life was about to change in a big way!

Let’s just say it’s nearly impossible to be part of a program about positivity and empowerment without some of it starting to radiate through your own life—especially when you see it amplified by the abounding energy of girls who are lit up with excitement about what they’re learning and celebrating in themselves and each other.

For example, one day the lesson was about positive self talk, and we used slips of paper with affirmations on them as lap counters for the running portion of the practice. As each girl finished a lap, she got a slip with a positive statement to repeat throughout her next lap. I watched as the two smallest girls on the team, Sophia and Allison, ran their laps side by side shouting their affirmations to each other at the top of their lungs. The more laps and affirmations they did, they more confident they became, declaring with joy all around the track, “I am amazing! I make a difference! I am amazing! I make a difference!”

Nearly every practice held an experience like this—the chance to see a girl realize her spark and start to ignite her confidence. It moved me to live more fully in my own life, sidelining my inner critic and embracing chances to be bold and seek growth. It has changed the landscape of my life in ways that extend far beyond the end of the season.

And this isn’t just my experience. Women (and some men too) all over North America—more than 375,000 since the program began—have shared this experience. They’ve taken the journey of empowerment alongside the girls, leading the team through the lessons and probably learning about themselves as they go, just as I have. What an amazing chain of empowerment, compassion and generosity of time and spirit—all to benefit these girls who will, no doubt, grow to change the world!

I salute every coach leading our teams this spring or at any time before. You are amazing! You make a difference!

Pamela Young


Pamela Young has more than 20 years of experience in the communications and publishing field. She has directed the editorial of a leading technology magazine, led the publishing activities of several nonprofits and currently manages the communications efforts of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte. She was the editor of Remarkable at its inception and remains a staunch fan of GOTR and of empowering girls to find and shine their limitless potential!

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