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Lessons That Last a Lifetime

By Cammy Nelson on 01/04/2017 | General

As I was standing in line for popcorn at a movie theater the other day, I received a text from a friend of mine. “Guess what?!?” read the text, clearly conveying the excitement she was feeling in the news she had to share. “What?” I responded. “I just applied to be an Assistant Coach for Girls on the Run!”

The conversation that followed explored excitement, nerves, and the possibilities that this position would bring her. She would certainly be an excellent coach and make a difference in the lives of the girls, but what she has not yet discovered is the impact the program will have on her. 

I was a Girls on the Run participant in the very early days of the program (I am 25 years old to give you an idea of what I mean by “very early”). I learned so much in Girls on the Run that shaped my life through elementary, middle, and high school.  As I entered and progressed through college, I shared the values I gained in GOTR with my close friends and mentored middle school girls through a local program. After graduation, I was able to be a coach for the program that ignited my passion for self-esteem, confidence, running, and unleashing my limitless potential. 

I may not be one of the coaches who can say “I wish they had this when I was in school”, because I did, but I learned more as a coach than I could have ever imagined. I was able to dive back into the basics of what I love about running. I watched as girls challenged each other to dream bigger and believe in themselves.  I saw friendships evolve and I watched as girls dared to be brave. It was truly awesome to watch, support, and encourage. 

My friend is incredibly excited about the coming months and she cannot wait to meet the girls she’ll be coaching. When the spring 5K arrives at the end of the season, I’ll be completing my master’s degree and walking across a stage as the Girls on the Run girls of today will be crossing their own finish lines. These are huge accomplishments that each girl should be proud of. It takes passion, dedication, hard work, patience, and a strong support system to cross the boundaries of your comfort zone and try something that feels so big. I remember crossing my first finish line in the GOTR 5K. I was tired and cold, but I was also proud. That first 5K was a huge accomplishment and I had completed it.  With my sparkly lap-counting popsicle sticks in hand, I had reached a goal. I could do it. 

It’s easy to become an adult and forget the lessons learned in GOTR. It’s safe to lean into fear and step back when I’m nervous or when I start to doubt my own abilities. Then I remind myself that it’s all about baby steps. Just take it one step, one day, at a time. Taking time along the journey to reflect on the progress I’ve made, the support I have all around me, and the potential I can reach if I only choose to believe. 

I have a quote from Molly Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run, hanging in my studio that reads, “The only requirement of having a dream is believing in it.” If there is a dream in your heart, it’s there for a reason. If we choose to believe in it, amazing things will happen. Girls on the Run inspires you to believe; in yourself, in the girls and women around you, and in the amazing things we can accomplish when we choose to support each other and love ourselves. 

Now, as I’m quickly approaching another opportunity to believe in myself and step away from doubt after grad school, I’ll remember what GOTR means to me and take it one day at a time. It’s not about the finish line, after all, it’s about the lessons we learn along the way!

Cammy Nelson

Author

Cammy Nelson is a second year graduate student at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. After graduation this spring, Cammy will be celebrating with a GOTR style dance party and pursuing her passion for inspiring young women to pursue their brace as a media critic and writer.

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