The Fall 2023 Girls on the Run season is coming to an end. The season flew by. I can’t believe that I only have one more practice with my team. I cannot believe how far those girls have come.
A few practices ago my team was planning to run our practice 5k. I was very nervous for them. Even though we did a lot of running, it was hard to motivate the girls to run laps without sitting out and stopping for one reason or another.
We were down one coach on the day of our 5k practice. I was very stressed about how we were going to monitor and encourage the girls while running. Thankfully, Girls on the Run has a lot of community members who are always ready to help.
I volunteered to run the first lap with the girls to show them the direction and then the plan was that I would station myself somewhere on the course to cheer on the girls. One of the girls came to practice after having a rough day at school and did not want to run the 5k. She was adamant that she was going to sit out the whole time. I told her I thought she should try to do at least one lap with me, and she agreed… but just to that one lap.
After the first lap, she looked at me and asked if I would keep going with her. We walked, ran, and skipped the whole 5k practice together. She hugged me at the end and said “Thank you Coach Maya, I don’t think I could have done that alone.” I was so incredibly proud of her for completing the whole thing.
My heart was so full when all of the girls finished their practice. I knew that they were going to do amazing at the 5k event the next week.
When the 5k rolled around, I had to be at the event at 6:30am. I had been dreading the early morning, but when it actually came time to get up, I practically jumped out of my bed. I was so excited.
When the girls started arriving and getting their hair and face paint done, I kept feeling deep waves of nostalgia. I remembered how I felt on the mornings of the GOTR 5ks I ran when I was their age. I was so happy to be experiencing it all again, but as a coach this time.
I anxiously waited at the finish line with the girls’ medals and when we saw the first girl on our team, I almost cried. Everytime one of the girls from our team finished I felt my heart swell and it almost felt like I was going to explode. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it felt watching these girls that I had been coaching finish this event.
My dad came out to support Girls on the Run and run the 5k so he could cheer on the girls while he ran. After the event was over I was telling him how thankful I was to watch all of my girls complete this accomplishment. He said to me, “This is why I wanted to come out and support Girls on the Run. Standing before the finish chute and watching the girls’ faces light up when they realize they are almost there is the best feeling in the world. They know they’ve just accomplished something amazing… something that once seemed impossible to them.”
It hit me then that this was almost the end. That the coaches had helped the girls do something that many of them never thought they could do. I started crying thinking about how impactful this program is for young girls, and how impactful this program was for me.
Every single girl on my team has a very special place in my heart. I will remember them all for the rest of my life and how they made coaching Girls on the Run the most wonderful experience. I won’t lie, there were days where the practices were long and challenging, but every single day I was so grateful to be a part of that team.
Thank you Girls on the Run for all the experiences that you have given to me. From when I watched the girls at my school in the 2nd grade, to participating from 3rd-5th grade, and to now, where I had the honor of coaching my own team. I have learned so much. Thank you