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GOTR Coaches Speak Out: Fast Forward: Keeping GOTR Strong in Future Seasons!

May 5, 2010

Today’s Coaches Speak Out series features guest contributor Cathleen Balantic, coach at Parkside Elementary in Atlanta. Have you missed Cathleen’s posts?

The one nerve-wracking aspect of having AmeriCorps members coach Parkside GOTR is that many of us will not be in the Atlanta area next year to continue coaching (just typing this makes me feel a little sad!)

GOTR, however, has made an obvious impact at Parkside already, so we are doing everything we can to make the program indispensible to Parkside’s extracurricular activities.

To ensure that GOTR stays strong at Parkside in future seasons, we’ve been working from a few angles to build up GOTR’s sense of presence and necessity within the school, with an ultimate goal of attracting eager and excited coaches for next year.

1. Outward Bound Atlanta’s partnership with Parkside has been strong for several years. Ideally, we will be able to take advantage of the strength of this partnership, and next year’s OBA AmeriCorps crew will have volunteers who are enthusiastic about going through the training and carrying the torch of GOTR coaching.

2. Reaching out to parents has been another priority. If we can fortify parents’ sense of connection to and investment in Parkside’s program, we might come away with one or two who get bitten by the coaching bug for next season! For example, due to scheduling issues, we had to move one of our practices to a Saturday morning. We turned it into a “community run” and had girls invite their parents or close family members to come participate in practice that day – the girls loved having the opportunity to show off what they’d learned, and the behind-the-scenes experience helped give parents a greater understanding about what goes on at practice.

3. Improving awareness among teachers and staff has been crucial! Earlier in the season, we put up this sparkly display to highlight our girls and make teachers and staff aware of GOTR. Each girl has a picture and small profile, and one sign invites teachers and staff to come out and cheer girls on at practice.

All it took was scissors, markers, paper, and a hefty dose of glitter. You can see a few of the team profiles off to the left!

The close up! Little info-blurbs gave information about the GOTR 5K and invited teachers and staff to cheer us on.

Teachers even came to us and asked about how to become a running buddy, citing the eye-catching display as having piqued their interest. Over the course of the season, we built up a small core of ‘regulars’ who would cheer the girls on and occasionally run workouts with them.

At our last practice before the May 1st GOTR 5K, the group was particularly big! One teacher DJ’d practice and blasted music while the girls galloped through a final pre-5K workout, and several more turned out to wish ‘em luck and run with them through the practice — even the vice principal was there – it was the largest stretch circle we’d ever had!

Hopefully this combination of a strong OBA partnership with all of the ‘marketing’ we’ve been doing will lay a foundation for keeping GOTR superstar strong at Parkside in years to come!

Girls on the Run is TOO much fun not to continue next year.

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