Coaching is as Rewarding as Participating in Girls on the Run

Volunteer Girls on the Run coach Joy Fox poses with her team for Chester County Girls on the Run

Joy Fox lived in Maryland where her nieces participated in a Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run is a 10-week fitness and self-esteem program that culminates with a celebratory 5K for the girls and a buddy. Joy’s nieces loved the program so much that they made their favorite aunt promise that when her daughter was old enough she would let her participate in the program -- and she had to coach!

Joy’s family moved to Chester County last year and found a Girls on the Run program for her now nine-year-old daughter, Seyler, at Avon Grove Intermediate School. And because of that promise, she agreed to try coaching the girls. 

“I never coached anything in my life,” says Joy emphatically. “But I ended up having so much fun! I think it is cool that they even have a program like this for elementary school-aged girls,” she adds.

In the beginning Joy felt terrified and unprepared, but then she would open the book that was provided to her by the Girls on the Run program and everything she needed was right there. “I was full of self-doubt those first two weeks and I definitely used that book as a security blanket,” Joy admits. “But then I began to get the hang of it. I could work full time, be done at 3:20, open the book and read what was on the schedule for the day, be ready to start at 3:30 and never had to look back at the book!” 

The girls practice twice a week after school, but the coach’s availability can play into the schedule. Joy works from home, so she has some flexibility with her schedule. Her two co-coaches split the two days, one leaving work 15 minutes early three times a month to help out. “You just do what you can to make it work,” says Joy. “45 minutes a month did not feel like too big a sacrifice to her.”

“I feel the Girls on the Run program fills a huge need among elementary school-aged girls,” Joy continues. “There are many coping and fitness programs for middle and high school girls, but elementary school is where it all starts these days. This program gives them confidence and has them thinking about their health at a critical time in their lives.” 

Joy admits that running is not her exercise of choice. But when the girls challenge her to race, she joins in. “You don’t have to run,” she says, “but I did a little and found that I was taking care of my own health at the same time as helping those girls.”

She confesses, “I am always stuck in my own head. So for three hours a week for 10 weeks, I was checking out of my check-list life – it was like a mini-vacation!”  On one particular day, Joy couldn’t help feeling very stressed and hoped it wasn’t coming across to the girls. One of the girls shyly handed her a note that day and she read it when she got home. It simply read, ‘Coach Joy, you are doing great!’ That note was just what I needed,” shares Joy, “and it shows how we all take care of each other. And that day I decided that this is exactly what I want to do!”

Joy is returning to coach the spring session of Girls on the Run which begins on March 9 and culminates with a celebratory 5K on May 30.

We need coaches, follow Joy’s example and find out more about this rewarding experience. 




Category: Youth Programs