Posted Whitney Cipolla on 11/7/2016 |Remarkable! People
I signed up to be an Assistant Coach for Girls on the Run in Spring of 2016. I’m a student at the University of Tulsa, and my school has a close relationship with a neighboring elementary school where there was a Girls on the Run Team. My older sister was a coach for GOTR in Kansas City, Missouri, and she absolutely loved it. She kept telling me about how awesome her girls were and how she loved instilling values and self-esteem into young girls.
I was triple majoring in English, Women and Gender Studies, and Education, and had an extensive list of extracurricular activities and leadership positions, including Vice-President of Student Association, but I figured that GOTR might be a perfect fit me and I am so glad I made the choice to commit. I thought that I would be able teach young girls about confidence, teamwork, friendship, and goal setting, but they truly ended up teaching me so much more.
Every week, I would go to my school to work with a group of ten girls. The school I was at was mostly comprised of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and the girls I worked with were more resilient as 8-11 year olds than most adults are. It was wonderful being a part of GOTR because I think our weekly meetings were the only opportunities my girls had to actually feel like kids.
The girls were very diverse in race, age, athletic ability, and personality but every time someone was struggling to talk about something difficult in a lesson or in running their laps, the girls would come together to cheer each other on. As a college student, I’m used to being involved in a lot of different things, but Girls on the Run was special because my girls were also instrumental in motivating and encouraging me. They taught me that sometimes the best thing a person needs is just a little encouragement from a friend and that laughter and being silly are the best medicine.
At the end of our season, I ran the 5K with four of my girls. The Tulsa run provided capes for all of the people running, and it was incredibly empowering to see my girls feel so super about themselves physically and emotionally. I had one particular girl who struggled to run (much like I always have due to asthma), but just like in practice, she never stopped moving. We were the last two to finish the race, but we never quit and she was so proud of herself for actually seeing her goal of finishing the race through.
My experience with Girls on the Run showed me that I want to continue working with young people and I was recently accepted into the 2017 Teach for America Corp. I could not be more excited to continue working with students to help them reach their full potential like I was able to do with my team through Girls on the Run. Crossing that finish line with Melodie was my favorite part of the whole season because it taught me that struggling in life may be inevitable, but by having a good attitude and believing in yourself, anything is possible.