Our Girls on the Run fall season just came to an end this past Sunday. In all my years of volunteering with the organization, I never ran the race until this year. I was excited to finally be able to experience the other side of our Fall 5K. I was looking forward to having an opportunity to run through Hershey Park alongside all the girls that I have been working with for the last several weeks.
I am really grateful for the chance to be a coach this season and to experience another aspect of GOTR. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first signed up to coach, but I knew it was something I wanted to try. The organization does a good job of training coaches, providing great curriculum and different approaches to every lesson. Despite being nervous, I went into our first practice feeling prepared and confident. (always a nice feeling to have! 😉 ) One of the topics that was discussed in our training, was there are going to be many different types of girls on your team. There may be girls that you connect with right away and there may be others that you spend 8 weeks just trying to get them to open up to you. The most important thing to focus on, is to see each of them as individuals and recognize that each of them is here to get something different out of the program. They are going to come out of this experience hopefully having learned something about themselves. As a by product, perhaps I would too! 🙂 I do recall after the first week of practices, speaking with my mother about how it was going so far and what I thought about being a coach. I told her about some of the girls and the other coaches as well as discussed how excited I was for the rest of the season. I also mentioned one girl in particular. I told my mother, “I don’t know, she just seems like she might be the one girl I will struggle with this season.” My mother asked why and I explained that she seemed super gregarious and at times over took the conversation so that her peers didn’t have a chance to speak. Of course, the more we discussed her, the more I realized that there were many parallels to a young Emily once upon a time! 😉 One part of this conversation that I remember vividly was telling my mother, “I know this may be difficult, but I’m sure she is a part of this team to teach me some kind of lesson. I don’t know what it is, but she is on this team for a reason.”
Fast forward to the end of the season and our celebration 5K. I had registered to run the race. My plan was to run the course and cheer on the girls from my team as I came across them and maybe run with a few of them along the way. I saw many friends that were participating as running buddies and spirit runners. I yelled and cheered for my girls as I passed them.
Just before the two-mile mark, I ran upon the young lady I mentioned earlier. I yelled her name and cheered for her to keep going as I ran past. Suddenly, I heard my name being called….Coach Emily, Coach Emily! I turn around and it was the woman who had been running with her (that I assumed was her running buddy). She then tells me, that this girl’s running buddy had left her and she did not have someone to run with. 😦 As this woman tells me, I can see the girl become visibly upset and she began to cry. I immediately said no way! I looked at her and said, “We got this! Let’s go, I’ll run with you!”
As we began to run, she starts to tell me what happened, but the further she gets into her story the more upset she is becoming. That’s when I told her that we were not going to focus on that, instead, she was going to focus on herself and finishing this race. We ran/walked and soon there was only a half mile to go. She was struggling, complaining of side stitches and really trying not to cry. All the while, I just kept thinking, Emily, this is your lesson right here, pay attention. It doesn’t matter how frustrated you may get, she is still a little girl with feelings, she is hurting and feeling left out. Now, more than ever, she needs to feel supported. This is what you are here for.
This was something that hit very close to home for me. As a young girl, I struggled with fitting in, with feeling like I belonged and more often than not…..I just didn’t. The big push for me to become involved in GOTR was knowing if I had something like this as a young girl, it would have been so incredibly helpful for me. I can’t turn back time and make that happen, but I can make sure that it can happen for these girls now.
In the end, she did it, she pushed herself and crossed that finish line. She finished and I truly hope that she is able to look back at Sunday and be proud of herself and her accomplishment and the fact that she…….NEVER GAVE UP! 🙂