Parent Interview with Coach Kellie

Written by Emily Fenger, Program Manager for Girls on the Run of the Rockies

We always love hearing from our girls about what their experience with Girls on the Run was like – we equally enjoy hearing feedback from parents and the growth they witnessed in their daughter as a result of Girls on the Run.

I recently had the chance to speak Kellie Jenkins, Girls on the Run board member, coach, and parent. We not only talked about her experience with GOTR, but also what she observed from her daughter participating and the confidence that our program instills in our participants.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been involved with Girls on the Run (GOTR)? What first sparked your interest?

I first explored GOTR as a race day volunteer in 2013. I am a Mom to a now 10-year-old daughter, I am a runner and I have professional background in leadership development, so my interest in GOTR was sparked by the opportunity to combine these three loves in a single program. I was so inspired by the energy I experienced at that first race in City Park, that I started exploring what it would take to be a coach. I began coaching in 2014 and spent 7 seasons coaching at Carson Elementary. Since then I have also served the organization as a SoleMate, Ambassador. and a member of the Board of Directors.

**For those who might not know what a SoleMate or an Ambassador is, or would like more information on our volunteer opportunities, please visit our ‘Get Involved’ page: click here.

2. How many seasons did your daughter participate?

When I started coaching at Carson, my daughter Chloe was in Kindergarten, and the only way I could make the time to coach, was if she came with me to practice. So she effectively did 7 seasons of GOTR, from Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Although she was only an “official” GOTR in her final season, she fully participated in the practices and the 5K races in those younger years, and learned so much from having the older girls as role models.

3. What was your biggest observation as a parent? How did being a part of the team impact Chloe?

I was constantly surprised by Chloe’s ability to engage in the conversations that we as a team were having around the social and emotional issues in the curriculum. Her insights and relevance of experiences to the topics was both unnerving and reassuring that she was not only talking openly about things like bullying and body image, but that she was learning strategies for dealing with these things. I think the best thing about the GOTR team structure is that it make the girls realize that they are not alone in dealing with social and emotional challenges, and it gives them a common language to continue to talk about these issues, long after the program ends.

4. What did Girls on the Run teach Chloe about her potential to be limitless?

GOTR opened both mine and Chloe’s eyes to what was possible, particularly when it came to the physical aspects of the program. I would never have imagined that she would be running a 5K at 5 years of age. I was blinkered by her age, and without the program I would never have even considered allowing her to try to reach that goal.  And yet, the pride that she felt in achieving that milestone was so heartwarming to witness.  The program continues to impact her in this way, as she ran her first 10K Bolder Boulder race in 2019 and is ready to make that an annual family tradition. I believe that this mindset of limitless potential also impacts her self-belief in every other aspect of her life.

5. What were your observations as a coach? How do you think the lessons impacted the girls?

I think the biggest observation as a coach, was the transformation in the girls confidence and belief in themselves. This program teaches the girls to set and pursue goals, to persevere and celebrate the achievement of those milestones.  The confidence that comes from achieving physical goals, allows them to believe in themselves when it comes to making choices and taking action in all other areas of their lives. They can stand strong and proud in who they are, and what they believe in, and know that all of that is within their power.