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Why I Coach: Volunteer Spotlights from Coast to Coast

The impact of an openhearted, compassionate volunteer is boundless.  

Our coaches are at the heart of what makes Girls on the Run a program unlike any other. At every practice, their encouragement inspires girls to live fearlessly. During each lesson, their willingness to listen reminds girls their words are worthy. Such mentorship is transformative, especially for young people at an age when they are often questioning their self-worth. Our coaches reassure girls of their power, no matter their environment, circumstance or situation. 

National Volunteer Week is an annual seven-day span that we greet each year with open (and excited) arms. We are ecstatic to place a warm and joyful spotlight on some of the coaches who have donated their heart, time and talent to GOTR girls everywhere. In honor of National Volunteer Week, see what a few of our coaches had to say about their experience with Girls on the Run! 

(P.S. We are preemptively placing the link to become a coach here. We have a certain hunch you just might be inspired to click it upon reading these amazing stories!) 


Coach JJ
GOTR coach hugging GOTR girl

Coach JJ embraces one of her GOTR girls at 5K event.

“I heard about Girls on the Run when I was in grad school. When I started my first job as a school counselor back in 2015, I immediately knew Girls on the Run was something my school needed. I’ve always been passionate about helping kids, and I specifically love that this program empowers girls to be confident in all aspects of their life – something I wish I had the opportunity to learn when I was younger. As a school counselor I love that the program not only highlights physical health, but social/emotional health as well and combines all three in a seamless way.

My absolute favorite memory is during one of the 5Ks, when I was one of my girls’ running buddies, and she used every single GOTR strategy she could think of to make it through the race. We stopped and took BrThRRs, used our ‘I Feel’ statements, encouraged each other with positive self-talk, and used our STAR power to complete the race. It was beautiful. GOTR is my happy place!” 


Coach Maranda 
Two GOTR coaches and two GOTR girls at 5K event

Coach Maranda (left) cheers with co-coach and GOTR girls at 5K event.

“After I joining first as a 5K as a running buddy, I decided I wanted to do more at Girls on the Run. There was so much excitement and joy at the 5K, and I could feel how proud each participant was for meeting and exceeding their goal of finishing.

There was one season that stands out. One year, we had a girl who participated in the program despite not speaking English. We had some trouble communicating the lessons with her, but did our best and had some of the girls help occasionally with translating. Despite some of the complications, she came every practice and including the 5K. What really touched me was that she returned to the team the next season, too! It was amazing to watch her grow and see the impact of the program, like the social connections within the team, that aren’t written into the lessons.”


Coach Brina 
Coach Bri presenting a lesson to the team.

Coach Brina presenting a lesson to the team.

“I am a Gamma Phi Beta alumna, from the Zeta Sigma chapter at the University of South Carolina. While I was in school all I wanted to do was be a coach, but it never worked out with my schedule. So, later in life, when I moved 16 hours away and knew no one, I found that this was the perfect time for me to begin my coaching journey!

Now, I’m in my second season coaching in Texas. It is incredible to watch the girls truly transform from the beginning to the end of the season and watch their confidence shine!” 

 

 


Coach Libby
eight GOTR girls smiling at 5K event

Coach Libby’s team of eight at the 5K!

“I was inspired to be a GOTR coach because of the support that this program offers to girls in such a transitional time. I teach third grade and it is such a pivotal period in girls’ lives. This program allows me to stay in those girls lives as they continue to grow through those last few years of elementary school. I love building relationships with the kids in third grade and maintaining it as they get older. I think hosting our own 5K last spring was one of my top memories. We had such an amazing team all eight of them! We went all out and made our 5K a ‘color run’. The girls had a blast, their smiles said it all!”

 

 


Coach Julie
GOTR girl crossing the finish line

Another girl crossing the finish line at Coach Julie’s GOTR 5K.

“Originally, I started coaching because I wanted to restart Girls on the Run at my daughter’s school post-COVID.  I honestly wasn’t sure it was for me. I never pictured myself as a coach of anything.  Watching not just my daughter but all the girls grow and connect with themselves and each other is what keeps me going. I love watching the girls form new friendships throughout the season and I love the excitement when one of the girls runs up to me after she beat her lap goal for the first time.

The friendships made and lessons learned at GOTR extend beyond practice.  I see the girls at the ballpark and soccer fields cheering for each other on the weekend.  GOTR hasn’t just been a learning experience for my daughter.  With Girls on the Run, I have also grown and taken on a new challenge I never expected. It’s taught me to be more encouraging, supportive and empathetic in my everyday life.”


 

three coaches and one girl smiling at event

Coach Nikki (left) with co-coaches and GOTR girl at celebratory event.

Coach Nikki

“I LOVE being a GOTR coach. I heard about the program from a surrounding school district, and this year, we are the first district in the county to have GOTR, and now there is another! Before I was a teacher, I was a weightlifting coach and I loved being a strong, positive role model for girls. Now that I am a teacher, I wanted to continue to be a positive role model for my students. When it comes to the 5K, I think I secretly had more fun than anyone at the 5K. (Maybe not so secret!) The final girl that crossed the finish line had told me, “This is the best day of my life” We cried happy tears together.  She is on the team again this season!”

 

 


Coach Stephanie
GOTR team photo

Coach Stephanie and team bundled up and ready to get moving.

“I first learned about Girls on the Run after participating as a running buddy for a friend’s daughter at the 5K. The amount of positive energy well over the normal amount that you would find at any race was incredible and enough to get me to sign up. When the next season came around and I saw a post on social media asking for coaches, I decided to go for it. Every season I have love watching the girls  have their ‘aha’ moment, when they realize what we have seen all along that they are amazing and can do this.  My favorite memory came about five years after that first race, when I was finally able to coach my daughter.”

 

 


Coach Rhiannon

Coach Rihannon all smiles in her Heart & Sole tee!

“I was on the board of my local council (GOTR NW Indiana) and had just returned from a failed job prospect. Since I was unemployed, I figured the least I could do is coach a Heart & Sole team. I ended up coaching three more seasons before taking a break. I coached my fifth season digitally in fall 2020.

I’ll never forget during my first season, when we discussed the ‘Press Pause’ lesson. We had been talking conflict resolution and I asked, “Say you do it all — press pause, work through the girl wheel, use “I” statements, and it still doesn’t work, then what?” Without hesitation one of the girls, L, said, ‘Drop ’em. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Move on!’ This seventh grader got it in ways a lot of adults don’t. L reminded the rest of her team they aren’t obligated to stay in a toxic environment and deserve better.” 

 


Coach Virginia 
Coach and girl smiling at event

Coach Virginia and GOTR girl all smiles at 5K event.

“The other coaches in the organization were the inspiration behind my involvement. They made it sound like so much fun (and it is)! I stuck around because I love watching the girls learn about themselves through the curriculum.

Every year, I really enjoy the fall 5K because it’s been so cold in Minnesota and it’s amazing to see these girls show up, all bundled and ready to go. The girls are always so determined and resilient we can learn so much from them.”

 

 

 


Coach Paige
Group of girls and three coaches on track at practice.

Coach Paige (right), co-coaches and team preparing for the 5K.

“After hearing wonderful things about the program, I signed up to as GOTR coach in the fall of 2021. It was also important for me to help young girls develop a love of sports/movement while also gaining confidence in themselves, especially at such a pivotal age.

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the official 5K last year, but I found the practice 5K to be equally inspiring. At this event, the girls saw their hard work, and support of one another, come together. Seeing the girls support and uplift one another’s goals and accomplishments is such a great experience.”

 

 

 


Coach Kelli 
Group of GOTR girls jumping at practice

Coach Kelli’s team jumping for joy at practice!

“I joined Girls on the Run as a coach this year and have been LOVING it. I started running in 2017, and it has been an unexpected blessing in my life, especially through a particularly hard season of heartbreak and loss. Running has pushed me physically, but even more so mentally. It has shaped my character, my determination and my mind when facing challenges. Implementing running into my lifestyle has led to other healthy habits and discipline. And that’s what inspired me to be a GOTR coach. I think when a young girl sets out and accomplishes one hard task (running laps, finishing a 5K, etc.), they realize the “impossible” is just a little bit of hard work away.”

 


Coach Liz
Coach Liz with co-coaches before 5K event!

Coach Liz with co-coaches before 5K event!

“A few years back I heard about Girls on the Run at my son’s school. I didn’t think much about it until I heard them say you don’t need to have a daughter to coach. And with that, I knew I could help them out! Upon starting, I was a bit overwhelmed, but then I saw the progression of the girls through the season and at the 5K. I experienced more emotion for all the girls from all teams then I ever thought I would. Throughout the seasons now (since 2018) I have loved seeing the girls grow that do it for multiple years and seeing their siblings get involved.

I became sober in August 2016. Back then I would have never thought I could be a mentor to girls and have girls look up to me. I learn from the girls and the program every season. One mother even told me, ‘My daughter’s never felt such a strong connection to other girls like this before…and also a strong connection to her own strengths.’

So long story short, that is why I love GOTR.”

 


Do you have a coaching success story you’d like to share? Fill us in! Contact Kelly McGuire at marketing@girlsontherun.org.

Join us for another season of memories, joy and transformation. Get involved here!