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Joy Changes the Atmosphere

By Dayle Mueller on 01/31/2019 | Coach's Corner

When I first came on as an intern for Girls on the Run, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it combined running and instilling positive values in young girls which are two things I’m extremely passionate about. I knew it would be a good fit for me, but what I hadn’t anticipated was just how much it would exceed my expectations. The relationships I’ve built with my supervisor, co-coaches and girls have been deep and long-lasting. The breakthrough I’ve seen with individual girls as well as myself throughout the season has deeply touched me. If there is one thing that sums up my experience at Girls on the Run, as well as the heartbeat of the program, it was our fall 2018 5K.

Going into the 5K, I was excited, but also nervous. We had been working toward this event the entire season and, I personally, had never been involved in organizing anything like it. In my mind, I had always envisioned a sunny day with cool, crisp, fall air where everyone gathered outside to celebrate all they accomplished over the season. However, waking up that Sunday morning, I encountered the opposite.

The weather was not ideal, to say the least. It was the worst weather to run a 5K. It was around 35 degrees out, super windy and it was pouring rain. The kind of rain the pelts your face when it comes in contact with your skin because it can’t decide whether to be rain or snow, so it ends up just being ice. This wasn’t what I envisioned, and worry began to cloud my mind as I thought of the girls and whether they’d have fun enjoying all their hard work and accomplishments throughout the season.

People began to pile in and what I observed touched me greatly. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was filled with joy—the kind that’s contagious. My job that morning was to take pictures and videos to document the day. No matter where the lens was pointed, you’d find people smiling, laughing and having an absolute blast. Even during the actual run, when the rain and wind picked up, the joyous atmosphere just continued to grow. People were smiling and laughing as they ran, giving each other high fives and hugs. Watching everyone come reach the finish line was one of my favorite moments of the entire season. It was more than just a team or a community supporting one another; it was a family. It didn’t matter what the weather looked like on the outside, the hearts of all our participants and volunteers outshined the gloomy day.

What I experienced that day truly left me in awe as I saw the impact of this program displayed in a single morning. What the girls learned throughout the season took root and it showed in their attitudes on event day. What I learned, at the end of that day and at the culmination of the program, is that our youth are incredible. What they learn and how they carry themselves can turn around a gloomy day and change the atmosphere around them. I’m just grateful to have been able to experience and learn from them.

 
 

Dayle Mueller

Author

Dayle Mueller is a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an intern for Girls on the Run of Champaign County.

 

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