Last week I was looking at the back of my car and realized that I did not have any race magnets on my car. Though I did have my magnet from the Glass Slipper Challenge to put on I had not put it on yet. Then had a flashback as to all the chaos, and really more fun, that led to me earning that car magnet. It was my first year teaching in Florida, and I had two stickers on my car at the time, a 10K and a 13.1. This led to my receiving a e-mail from a parent asking about my interest in coaching Girls on the Run in the future. At the time I had no idea who the parent was or anything about the program. As it would later be revealed, the parent was an actual parent of one of my students in one of my Civics classes that year.
Flash forward to the next year, and BAM! I am one of the first male coaches for Girls on the Run. And what a rewarding experience it turned out to be. I can definitely say that I learned just as much from those young ladies as they learned from me. It was such an amazing experience getting to learn from students in a non-academic or non-athletic venue. To sit and discuss the problems that they have with friends, family, teachers, school, and other things. The unique perspective that young ladies view the world as opposed to young men and adults. To note that these young pre-teens and teenage young ladies have a firmer grip on the world and reality than they are often given credit. And that given the right opportunity and chances, these young ladies will be the future of this world.
Then this year, after again coaching the Spring season, I was offered another fabulous opportunity with Girls on the Run, to run the Glass Slipper Challenge as a part of the SoleMates program. The SoleMates program has to raise money to provide scholarships, race entries, educational materials, t-shirts, water bottles, and so much more for the girls that the program supports. It was a great experience raising funds for this organization. The bigger thrill however, was getting to meet all the different SoleMates that were running the race with me this year and to meet all the different coaches from across the country that had programs. It was a great feeling to be surrounded by so many inspiring and great women and an honor and privilege to be associated with this fine program. I could not have imagined in wildest dreams how much it has helped me grow as a runner, but more importantly it has helped me to grow as a person. Just the idea of me running in a tutu would have been implausible, but through self-confidence and not worrying what other thinks, I can now say I have run in a tutu. Because after all, “If Mr. West can run in a tutu, everybody can run in a tutu!”