I have so much to say about this incredible organization and figured the best way to touch on everything I want to convey is to format this post like a giant Q&A so I can address the most common questions I’ve received and also share a little more detail about my experience.
First, before diving into all of the details, I wanted to quickly say how much this program means to me. When I first signed on to coach, I figured it would be a fun way to get involved in the local community and give back in some small way. I had no idea how much I would look forward to every single practice and grow to love and truly care for each and every girl on our team. Our weekly practices were energetic, emotional, thought-provoking and inspiring. I cannot wait to coach again this spring and highly encourage anyone out there who may be even the slightest bit interested to consider looking into volunteering with your local council. You won’t regret it!
Okay, onto the Q&A…
- What is Girls On The Run?
Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a non-profit organization and a transformational physical activity-based positive youth development program for girls in third through eighth grade. GOTR teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games.
Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced throughout the program. At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5K which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. The result—making the seemingly impossible, possible, and teaching girls that they can.
- How long is a season?
Each season lasts approximately 12 weeks and incorporates 24 lessons. There are two GOTR seasons: One in the fall and one beginning early this February in the spring. Both seasons culminate with the big 5K race!!
- How often do you practice?
We held twice-weekly practices that lasted 90 minutes. My fellow coaches and I met with our team every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
- What is the difference between Girls On The Run and Girls On Track?
Girls On The Run is the program name for girls in third, fourth and fifth grade. Girls On Track is the program in place for girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. I coached a Girls On Track team and LOVED them.
- How do I find a GOTR team near me?
- How do I sign up to be a coach?
Click the link above to find a GOTR council near you. Click on their Volunteer page and submit a volunteer application!
- What is the weekly time commitment for a GOTR Coach?
There are different coaching positions available: Head coach, assistant coach and junior coach. I participated as a head coach but had two co-coaches on my team who were fabulous and also helped with planning. I would say, on average, I dedicated four to five hours a week to coaching. This includes practices, weekly email correspondence with parents and lesson prep work before a practice.
- What is a practice like?
So much fun!!! I was actually quite nervous walking into my first practice but I really didn’t need to be because our weekly GOTR practices were always such a blast. We began with a healthy snack followed by a warm up or discussion according to the curriculum guide every coach is provided by Girls On The Run International. Lesson topics varied from relationships and self esteem to healthy eating and communication. Most lessons include an activity to help the girls get up and moving while also reiterating the theme of the day’s discussion.
Then it was time to run! After our discussion, we’d head outside to the track with the girls and spend the remainder of the time running. Most of the time, there was an activity to complete while the girls were running to make it a little more fun, such as yelling out something they’re grateful for to be added to a poster after each lap (see above pic), etc.
- I want to get involved with GOTR but I’m not interested in coaching. Are there other ways to help out?
Yes!!! Again, check your local council’s volunteer page for additional volunteer opportunities. Most councils are always looking for race day volunteers. You can also sign up to be a Running Buddy and run with a GOTR participant on race day, as every girl is required to run with a running buddy. I absolutely loved participating in the race as a running buddy with one of the girls on my team and highly recommend it!
- I saw on Instagram that you and your team made dog beds? What was that for?
Each season, every GOTR team is responsible for participating in some sort of a community service project. Our team decided to make fleece dog beds for a local animal shelter! We let the girls brainstorm various community service projects and vote on the one they wanted to do most.
- I want to coach but I’m not a runner. Is that okay?
Absolutely! During my training to become a coach, our program coordinator asked how many coaches in the room didn’t love running and quite a few hands went up. Of course a genuine interest in running is fabulous, but you do not need to run regularly to be a GOTR coach.
- What is the 5K like? Does everybody run?
Exciting!! You can see a full recap of last season’s 5K here: Girls On The Run 5K Recap. Everybody definitely does not run. There’s a lot of running and walking going on, but girls are encouraged to do their best! Every team hosts a practice 5K before the real race, so we encouraged our girls to try to beat their practice 5K times. Every girl is given the bib number “1” because there are no winners and no losers, so the race is simply about accomplishing a big goal, not coming in first place. Each girl must also run with a running buddy (an adult) and while most girls run with a family member or an older friend, a bunch run with volunteer Running Buddies as well.
I think that covers everything!! I am also more than happy to answer any additional questions, so feel free to ask away in the comments section below or shoot me an email. LOVE GOTR!
Disclaimer: Photo releases are signed by all GOTR girls’ parents and coaches are encouraged by GOTR to share photos to help spread the word about such an amazing organization.