Woodridge Elementary: Reflections from the Love Seat
From day 1, I was immediately impressed by the group of bright girls who had signed up for Girls on the Run at Woodridge. They were happy, engaged, and already possessed a high level of depth and self-awareness that I, as a first time GOTR coach, did not expect to encounter in this age group.
We Woodridge coaches quickly noticed the girls’ confidence, maturity, and friendship bloom over the course of the season, culminating in a very touching Lesson 22, when each girl took her turn sitting in the “Love Seat” to receive compliments from her fellow GOTR girls.
At first, the girls trudged toward the Love Seat with caution, wondering what their classmates might say. Because of this reaction, I expected to hear only vague comments from the group, like, “I like that you are friendly,” but the coaches and I were pleasantly (and tearfully) surprised at the complexity of the girls’ compliments for one another:
- I love your perseverance.
- I love that you always help everybody.
- I love how confident you have become.
- I love how hard you try even though I can tell you are tired sometimes.
- I love that you are a born leader.
To us, their thoughtfulness perfectly illustrated that despite the after-school chaos, rainy days, and laser focus on energy awards, the girls had been secretly absorbing everything had hoped they would to learn!
During the season, the girls learned to recognize the importance of completing their goals rather than winning. Some unexpectedly found their voices as leaders. Others had quieter transformations, beginning the season with hesitation but ending, on the day of the 5K, with breathless, wild-eyed excitement.
In discussing how far the Woodridge girls have come since Day 1, I’d be remiss not to recognize how far I‘ve come this season as well.
The girls have lifted my spirits on days when I’ve had trouble unplugging my own negative cord, and they have proven to be an inspiration to students and coaches alike. Not only do they understand the importance of seeking friendships based on trust, support, and kindness, they have consistently exhibited those very traits with enthusiasm all season. I look at this photo from time to time and know that each of these amazing girls will o ne day take the world by storm.
Coaches Allison, Rebecca, Alicia, Jaye, and Linda – all educators at the school – provide such strong examples of patience, positivity, and leadership that it’s really no surprise how well adjusted these Woodridge girls were from the very beginning.
Toward the end of our Lesson 22 Love Seat exercise, each girl began to dole out not just one, but a multitude of compliments for the girls in the seat. As the chorus of compliments flowed, I felt overwhelmed with pride to see the girls rising from the seat with bright, empowered grins, as if they had 100 GOTR cords plugged in!
What an incredible, awe-inspiring way to close our Fall season at Woodridge. I can’t wait for Spring to arrive!