Building Strong Girls

Hi! I’m Coach Rebecca. I’ve been involved with Girls on the Run Atlanta since 2016 and have coached three fun and crazy seasons with Paideia and The Atlanta International School. When I’m not working as an event planner or coaching Girls on the Run, you can find me walking, running or biking around Piedmont Park, traveling and working on my sommelier certification. I was born and raised in Atlanta and graduated from the University of Georgia – Go Dawgs! In addition to coaching, you can find me serving as Co-Chair of the GOTR Young Professionals Board, fundraising as a Sole Mate and/or volunteering in the GOTR office. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Girls on the Run junkie! I’m constantly in awe of this program and how it enriches the lives of the girls involved as well as the coaches, volunteers, parents and guardians. One of my favorite things about coaching is that no matter what work or life stresses you may bring to practice on any given day and no matter what silly antics the girls may get into, you always leave lighter and filled with so much joy.

At its core, Girls on the Run is so much more than a fitness program. It teaches girls how to navigate the world around them with strength and confidence. Growing up, girls are faced with so many challenges and this program approaches these challenges head on, giving girls the tools and confidence they need to overcome any obstacle. I have such a heart for building strong girls and strong women and that’s exactly what Girls on the Run is all about. When the Young Professionals Board was launched last summer, I knew it was something I needed to be involved in so that I could experience Girls on the Run in a new capacity and it has been such an incredible experience. During its inaugural year, we accomplished so many amazing things and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for this group of talented young professionals who have big hearts for this program.

Without question, some of the most rewarding moments of being a coach are watching the girls grow throughout the season, watching them process their emotions and listening to their vulnerabilities. I absolutely love 5k day every fall and spring. It’s so much fun to watch these girls achieve their goals!

I have seen girls who were quiet and shy at the beginning of the season find their voices. I’ve watched girls who didn’t think they could run very well crush their goals. I’ve watched their minds process their lessons in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible for 3rd – 5th graders. One of my favorite moments as a coach was when one of my girls came up to me during practice and said, “I know I’m a little weird and different but I love Girls on the Run because, here, I can just be me, no matter what”. This program will change your life. How can it not?

I’ve seen firsthand what Girls on the Run can do in the lives of everyone it touches which is why I’ve continually gotten more involved in this organization. One of my favorite things we do at YPB board meetings is to start off by sharing inspiring GOTR stories – I’ve heard about a team who crossed the finish line together, hand in hand with one of their teammates in a wheelchair. I’ve learned how GOTR works to meet the needs of all girls and has recently begun giving out small grants to teams in need of things like running hijabs so that every girl is comfortable and has the confidence to excel in this program. I’ve heard about a young girl, who after participating in the Heart and Sole program in middle school, went on to high school and beat several of their long-standing track and field records. And I’ve personally witnessed so many amazing moments as a coach.

It has been so fun spending time around all of the strong, smart and talented staff, volunteers and coaches who make Girls on the Run Atlanta possible. Talk about some amazing energy and girl power! It’s contagious.

If someone asked me who my biggest inspiration in life was, I’d say I have quite a few. They’re the single moms, working moms, stay at home moms, women who choose not to be moms or who don’t even have the choice to be moms. The girls I coach and the women I coach with. The women with strong, fierce voices and the women with quiet, unwavering determination. The women who lift each other up. The women who advocate for us, breaking barriers and glass ceilings to pave the way for future generations to have it just a little bit easier than they did. The women who are juggling too much because life is messy and complicated but somehow always make it work. The people who inspire me most are the women and girls I see around me every single day. The ordinary women who are doing extraordinary things just by showing up and being their incredible selves. That’s who I want to be when I grow up and that’s what Girls on the Run teaches to all the amazing girls it touches.

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Rebecca Godleski