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GOTR Coach’s Speak Out: Cathleen Balantic, Parkside Elementary

March 16, 2010

The Why We Run blog is pleased to introduce a new series featuring real life Girls on the Run of Atlanta coaches! The GOTR Atlanta Spring 2010 season is entering its fourth week, and will culminate on May 1 with the GOTR Atlanta 5K. Our second guest contributor is Cathleen Balantic, a coach at Parkside Elementary in Atlanta. Check back often  for more blogs from Cathleen as well as other GOTR Atlanta coaches!

Hi, my name is Cathleen, and I’m a girl-coach on the run!

In May 2009, I graduated from college in the northeast and made my way down to Atlanta, where I’m currently completing an AmeriCorps service term with Outward Bound Atlanta (OBA). Our team tutors grade-school students, facilitates team-building programs on our ropes course, and contributes to other initiatives that support the empowerment of youth in the metropolitan area.

 My OBA service teammate, Rosemary, recently spearheaded a new GOTR chapter at one of our partner schools, Parkside Elementary School by Grant Park.

In addition to Rosemary and me, Parkside Elementary boasts two excellent, hilarious, and zany male GOTR coaches – our OBA AmeriCorps teammates, Markus and Bobbie Chaz!

 My coaching background:

-First-time GOTR coach

-Coached youth cross country and girls’ lacrosse in high school and college

-Camp counselor for high school running camp

 My connection with running:

-Ran cross country and track in high school

-Captained my varsity rowing team in college (I know, I know, it’s not running, but oof, that was some hard work! And crew is a very similar mentality to distance running – you find a lot of the same healthy lifestyle endurance addicts.)

-The ING Georgia on March 21st will be my first marathon

 So the whole coaching for GOTR thing is pretty obvious. For so many reasons, I love running. And I want other girls to grow an appreciation for it, too… but my investment goes a bit deeper than that. I love that Girls on the Run is “more than a running program” and here’s why:  

GOTR Parkside has 16 strong, sparkling “Superstars!” who are ready to take the world by storm, and I want to empower them to do that to their highest potential. I remember what it was like to navigate through elementary, middle, and high school. Like many girls, I was plagued with body image issues, disordered eating, wobbly self-esteem, doubt, tough challenges and tricky choices all through adolescence.

 Truthfully, I still haven’t figured all of that out, but every time I lace up my running shoes, my legs propel me closer to the person I want to become. Endurance sports have helped build all of the strengths I carry with me today. How can I not share this basic, wonderful discovery with others, and what better angle of impact than with the guidance of a phenomenal program like GOTR? 

Just three weeks in, I spend all day looking forward to the simple pleasure of bounding, dancing, moseying, trotting, cartwheeling, and strolling around the school’s field with the sunshine in my face, exchanging high fives, stories, and “Keep it up!”’s with my Parkside GOTR girls.

 I am so pumped to share my coaching journey with you!


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