May 1, 2011

Posted in Blog

Smithson Craighead Stars Shine Bright

Kennedy not only knows what's best for her, she hearts GOTR!

May 2011

We were mighty proud of all Girls on the Run participating in last week’s practice 5ks, but my co-coaches Dawn Eastes, Betty Goodner and Markeshia Williams and I were especially proud of our Team Pink Smithson Craighead Academy girls. Not just because Kennedy and Ninavet were 1st and 3rd place overall finishers, but for many other reasons:

Their early arrival at Nashville’s Shelby Bottoms Park, and their engineering abilities and eagerness to problem-solve as a team in helping assemble the complicated PVC Girls on the Run banner stand apparatus (I wish we had a photo of that.)

Jillian and Jordan’s willingness to lead all girls and volunteer Running Buddies in pre-race warm-up stretches. Those two have been leaders in lesson-processing all season: the answers they share are often so insightful we jokingly accuse them both of hiding under a table at coaches training.

Fontesheia’s recognizing the name of her Running Buddy Kathleen Goodman, and remembering writing her a thank you letter last season when Kathleen raised funds for GOTR as a SoleMate. I had forgotten, but Fontesheia had not! Sometimes these random pairings of buddies and girls turn out to be inspired.

Coach Dawn was honored and touched that Imari asked her to be her buddy. No one cares that Imari is not our strongest runner; she is well-loved, valued and respected for her positive attitude, her care for the other girls and her perseverance. This was her third 5k!

Ninavet's letters covered both her arms!

It was the first 5k for Jordan, Ninavet and Sakora. Ninavet was out in front for much of the race; this is why we call it a practice 5k! It’s where first-timers who don’t know what to expect learn about pacing to go the distance. Ninavet and her buddy, former Edmonson Elementary GOTR Coach Nancy Rose, reminded me so much of Happy Hope and Sydney Bush Foster (still buddies after all these years) at our very first practice 5k November 2007. Hope had taken off full tilt, and knowing how much she loved to sprint, Sydney let her rip; when Hope tired, Shimmering Shining Shanice and her buddy Sarah Fisher (the only Running Buddy who has never missed a practice or end of season 5k) passed them and went on to take the gold, as we say. At the following end of season Jingle Bell 5k, we promised Hope that if she started slower, and let Sydney pace her, she would in fact finish faster, and she did: Hope won her age group by 4 minutes! Sydney, a prize-winning triathlete, said that Hope’s victory meant more to her than any race she herself had ever won.

Kennedy: she met me that afternoon by jumping into my arms and wrapping her strong skinny little legs around my waist. Tell me I didn’t love that. It was a HOT day, and she still set a personal record. She loves to run, and has such talent. She also works hard and does her best at every practice, so her efforts have been rewarded. She’s basically very shy, but we have watched her confidence build as she finds her many strengths, both inner and outer. Kennedy is a winner. Thanks to Lu Lu Lemon Courtney Schoon for being her buddy!

Kanaka received high praise from her buddies, Board of Directors Co-Chair Diane Crosier and her sister Beverly Anderson, for being so sweet and polite. Apparently there were lots of “Yes Ma’am”s .

As they were running together, Board Chair Jessica Bliss asked Jillian her interests, and was struck by a poise and thoughtfulness one might not expect from a young girl when Jillian asked, “And you, what are you interested in?”

And all those strong finishes! Ashley looked like an Olympian. Malika flashed her million dollar smile.

Jillian gets her letters!

I love these photos, taken during Lesson 11 Standing Up to Peer Pressure workout: after the girls completed a lap, coaches read Scenario Statements like “She is so weird-let’s hide her book bag so she can’t find it.”, “We have a math test today and I didn’t study. Will you sit next to me so I can look at your paper? You are so smart!”, ”What’s the big deal? We’re just taking a candy bar. The salesperson isn’t even looking.” and “What’s the matter? Are you scared? Just try one puff of this cigarette.” The girls were asked to STOP, BREATHE, LISTEN and RESPOND, and boy, did they! We wrote one letter on their arms after each lap/response. Many girls ran faster to get all their letters, which eventually spelled out I KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR ME!

This season seems to have flown by! I can’t believe we’re about to wrap up Spring 2011 programs at the 3rd Annual New Balance GOTR 5k. Race Director Marcia Sorrell e-mailed this morning that the weather forecast for Saturday May 7th is SUNNY! High 72 Low 49; perfect weather for a race! We certainly deserve it, after last year’s race delay and cancellation by what proved to be an historic flood! Please come join us this year! We promise it will be a glorious and a memorable experience for all, as almost 100 energetic Girls on the Run celebrate their successes, affirm the lessons they have
learned and share their enthusiasm for running and healthy living with their community.


Jennifer Kimball, Girls on the Run Nashville Council Director, was reading Runner’s World one day when she saw a photo of Girls on the Run founder Molly Barker surrounded by a sea of young girls, all jumping in the air with huge grins on their faces and thought to herself, “I want to do that.” And, with the help of many other interested women (and a few good men), she did. In the fall of 2007 Girls on the Run Nashville began with 15 girls at Percy Priest Elementary and now Jennifer is the one surrounded by hundreds of young girls’ happy faces. Jennifer always has a smile for the girls who she says both surprise, inspire her and make her laugh. Her passion, energy, care, determination and love for the girls and the program is truly contagious.