In 2016, GOTRSD was thrilled to introduce a new annual honor, the Allison Janusziewicz Coach of the Year Award!
Named after a long-time GOTRSD Coach, the Allison J. Coach of the Year Award recognizes coaches who envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.
In 2016, the Girls on the Run San Diego Coaches of the Year are Lisa Williams and Danielle Ricci!
Coach Lisa and Coach Danielle work together to lead a GOTR team at Cadman Elementary in the Bay Ho community. With three seasons under their belts, Lisa and Danielle have proven to be dedicated to their girls and the GOTR mission. In addition to being wonderful coaches for their girls, Lisa and Danielle work tirelessly to elevate our organization and help other coaches.
We recently had a chance to chat with Lisa and Danielle about their coaching experience:
How did you get involved with GOTR?
Danielle: I got involved with GOTR through my previous company's women's group. We volunteered at the 5k and I fell in love with the program. My coworker (Lisa) and I decided to start a team at her daughter's school and split the head coaching responsibilities so it would be more manageable with our full time jobs. It is now the best part of my week!
Lisa: My first exposure to GOTR was with Danielle volunteering at the Spring 5K a few years ago. Volunteering at the 5K changed my life. Feeling the positive energy, love and joy by everyone participating impacted me in a profound way. I knew immediately my young daughter needed to be involved with this amazing program and decided to bring this program to her school. I was so impassioned that I approached the site registration lead that very same day and began recruiting Danielle to co-head coach with me!!
Why do you coach for GOTR?
D: I coach because I wish there was a program like this when I was growing up. I have a passion for running and love being able to work with the girls every week. The character development component of GOTR is unbelievable and truly gives the girls a repository of tools they can use in their everyday life. And last but not least, the laughter. Every single practice I walk away with a smile and a funny moment that happened at practice. When life gets crazy and busy, I can always count on my girls to lighten the mood.
L: There are sooo many reasons I continue to coach. First, I get to bond with my daughter in a unique way and at such a tender time in her life. Second, knowing that I am impacting so many beautiful young girls with such a positive message truly fills my heart. Every time one of the girls runs up to me outside of practice and gives me a hug, I know I’m doing something good. Finally, I am not a runner and am a long way away from being what I consider “in shape”. Being a coach allows me to show the girls that YOU CAN DO IT. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a “runner” or not. As long as you move forward in a positive way, you can move mountains and reach goals you never thought possible.
Tell us one of your favorite GOTR memories.
D: There are too many to count! If I had to choose, it would be our practice 5k last season. All of our girls were so excited to run. A generous donor donated old race shirts for the girls to wear while they ran, we had music playing for extra motivation, and an AMAZING cheering squad made up of faculty, parents and other students. The team felt so special, and the extra encouragement from the community really pushed the girls to do their best and finish the practice 5k together as a team. Lisa and I definitely shared a tearful hug during that practice.
L: Hands down, last season’s practice 5K was my favorite memory too. We had a lot of first-time girls on our team last season and I was feeling a little nervous about how our practice 5K would go. Danielle and I decided to make signs and medals for our girls with the help of our coach team. We communicated with the parents and invited them to join us to cheer the girls on. We even told the PrimeTime lead about the event. On the day of the Practice 5K, we had over half the parents show up and a few ran with their girls. The PrimeTime lead surprised us with a cheer squad, complete with pom-poms, who come out to cheer the girls on. Danielle and I were so touched by the involvement from others and how the appreciate showed clearly through the smiles and positive attitudes of each and every girl. It was a definite moment that will stick with me for a long time.
What advice would you give to new GOTR coaches?
D: Look at your lessons ahead of time!! It's easy to think you can just show up and read the lesson... But it truly makes a more organized and smooth practice when all of the coaches know what to expect, what's coming up next, and what we need to do to prepare for each section. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
L: DEFINITELY look at the lessons a few days ahead! Also, don’t stress too much about delivering the lesson perfect, just being there and working through the topic is enough to make a difference.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
D: Every season I look forward to a fresh start with the girls. This year I am especially looking forward to coaching with the new GOTR curriculum, and some new girls that we haven't had before.
L: I’m looking forward to seeing this program continue to grow at the school. It’s taken a few seasons to spread the word and I’ve enjoyed each season.
To learn more about coaching or to get involved, visit www.gotrsd.org/coach