By Ms. Summer Wilkinson, Nativity Prep Teacher and Coach
On Sunday, May 11th, the students of Nativity Prep, along with a number of other schools, ended their running season with the Girls on Track (GoT) Sparkle and Shine 5K. GoT’s mission is to inspire girls to be “joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
Our girls, along with many other school teams, have been preparing for about three months. On Sunday, there were about 540 participating students along with running buddies, friends, family, and volunteers.
As coach, I was delightfully overwhelmed by the amount of support the girls received on race day, including the staff and volunteers of GoT and our own very supportive Nativity community as well. There were many teachers, mentors, and family members present to cheer the girls on with every step of their 5K. For our students, this was the first official race any of them had run.
The coaches played an integral part in the girls’ journey throughout the season. We had seven coaches total that came to campus once or twice a week to help with practices. Each girl bonded with coaches in different ways. They served as mentors, friends, and role models for the girls. Marisol L., a current eighth grader, expressed her gratitude by saying, “ I learned that there is at least one person that cares about you to inspire you and guide you through life.”
Although the GoT program focuses on empowering our middle school girls, I felt like I gained just as much out of the program. The unique GoT curriculum involves three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. I was reminded of some very important life lessons with our practice discussions. Our bright girls provided wise answers to some of life’s big questions.
Other coaches had similar experiences. Bridget Connelly was a dedicated coach just looking for a way to serve the community. She would take off work early and complete a long commute to our school for practices. She always came with a smile and expressed how “worth it” it was to see our girls.
Now that the season is over, I still feel a great connection to all of the girls. It is the innate nature of Nativity to serve as more than just their teacher, just as they are more than just another student. We are a family.