Girls on the Run Coach Recognition: Karen Abel Jepsen

Each month we recognize a Girls on the Run coach for her commitment to inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. This month, we’re honored to recognize Karen Abel Jepsen and share what inspires her to volunteer…

GOTR Coach of the Month SeptemberWhat inspired me to coach GOTR this year for the first time was my daughter. At age nine, she had already expressed concern about “being fat.” Now — at nearly 5 feet tall and 99 lbs. — my beautiful daughter is most certainly NOT fat. She is an amazing, 96th percentile-tall fourth grader. Someday, she’ll probably be a phenomenal volleyball player, or maybe a javelin thrower, or anything else she wants to be. But right now, she just sees herself as fat. And all that I’ve said and done as a strong feminist mother has not succeeded in insulating her from the voices of her peers, or the long arm of the media. Then I heard about GOTR. I did some research and decided that this might offer an alternative voice for my daughter to hear, so I embarked on a plan to bring GOTR to our community. I knew I could not effectively coach her myself, so I volunteered for the middle school GOTR team in tandem with an elementary school team coached by school volunteers.

What a rewarding experience it has been! Watching my daughter train was like watching a young filly at play. Her laughter along the trail, her excitement as the weeks progressed, and her pride at the finish line assured me that we had taken an important step together toward wellness. Now my daughter talks about conditioning, and the next 5k, and inspires me to carry on in my role as life coach in addition to running buddy.

By Karen Abel Jepsen
Stark County, Ohio

GOTR Girls on the Run is a non-profit program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. Athleta is thrilled to provide national support as they promote our shared core values of courage, self-confidence and athleticism. And you can be a part of it all too. Volunteer. Donate. Become a coach. Make a difference.


September 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

How wonderful that she has such an encouraging & supportive mother!


October 02, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Awesome to see this wonderful woman I knew in Stark County years ago through the Domestic Violence Project continuing to do great work! Go Karen!

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