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October 26, 2023

Running to a better future

Coppell teen coaches Pagadala, Shah inspire young girls through 5K
Coppell+High+School+juniors+Chandana+Pagadala+and+Kyna+Shah+volunteer+as+assistant+coaches+for+the+Coppell+Girls+on+the+Run+under+program+manager+Allison+Gnade.+Originally+founded+in+Charlotte%2C+N.C.%2C+Girls+on+the+Run+is+a+10-week+program+with+bi-weekly+practices+where+girls+from+third+to+eighth+grade+train+to+participate+in+a+5K.+
Rhea Choudhary
Coppell High School juniors Chandana Pagadala and Kyna Shah volunteer as assistant coaches for the Coppell Girls on the Run under program manager Allison Gnade. Originally founded in Charlotte, N.C., Girls on the Run is a 10-week program with bi-weekly practices where girls from third to eighth grade train to participate in a 5K.

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving break, a dedicated group of girls, who had diligently trained mentally, physically and emotionally for weeks, assembled at the Coppell YMCA, ready to tackle their first 5K run. 

This group included Coppell High School juniors Chandana Pagadala and Kyna Shah.

“We did a lot of running,” Pagadala said. “The girls were running a mile every single practice. It was not only a lot of stretching and warm-up exercises, but also exercises that incorporated our lessons in mental and physical health.” 

Pagadala and Shah, along with several other volunteers and eager learners, invested weeks preparing for this culmination on Nov. 18. All their efforts were building up to this very moment and yet, despite the pressure, each face beamed with a smile.

Founded in Charlotte, NC, Girls on the Run is a 10-week program with bi-weekly practices, where girls from third to eighth grade train, gain confidence, and finish with a 5K. The fall season at Coppell took place from Sept. 11-Nov. 18, with the spring season starting on Feb. 12.

“I joined the program because my friend had heard about it,” Shah said. “My sister joined originally, and I joined as a participant when I was in school. I really loved the program values, so I came back to help other young girls learn the same things I did, while having fun and learning how to run a 5K.”

Coppell High School junior Kyna Shah volunteers as an assistant coach for the Coppell Girls on the Run under program manager Allison Gnade. Originally founded in Charlotte, N.C., Girls on the Run is a 10-week program with bi-weekly practices where girls from third to eighth grade train to participate in a 5K. (Rhea Choudhary)

The program claims to not only train the girls but impart important life skills to nurture self-care and build confidence. Through exciting yet relevant activities, Pagadala and Shah nourished students with enthusiasm, compelling them to participate more. For example, they would spell out an acronym relating to the day’s lesson; if they were learning about self care, they would spell that out as they ran.

Pagadala and Shah serve as assistant coaches for Coppell’s Girls on the Run chapter, but their journey to this point was a long one. Pagadala discovered the program while searching for volunteer opportunities, drawing from her experience in track and powerlifting.  

Shah, who acknowledged her lack of proficiency in running, joined as a participant and returned to volunteer because of the supportive community which boosted both her confidence and that of her little sister, who later participated as well.

Engaging in various activities, the program fosters community and sisterhood among the girls, instilling a lifelong passion for running.

“I’ve met a lot of school girls, college girls, that have graduated and stuck with running since,”  Girls on the Run program manager Allison Gnade said.

Despite the program making the most impact with the girls through lessons and activities, Chandana and Kyna attest this program impacts their own self-perception to a great extent as well.

“As coaches, we’re role models for the girls; and how they act is based on us,” Pagadala said. “I also feel like they impacted me to be a better person. I can think of moments where I’m like,  ‘I’m not going to say this about myself because I wouldn’t ever say this about one of the girls.  It really impacted me to think better and more positively about myself.”

Coppell High School junior Chandana Pagadala volunteers as an assistant coach for the Coppell Girls on the Run under program manager Allison Gnade. Originally founded in Charlotte, N.C., Girls on the Run is a 10-week program with bi-weekly practices where girls from third to eighth grade train to participate in a 5K. (Rhea Choudhary)

Proficiency in running is not a prerequisite for participation. A healthy mindset and the ability to engage with little girls are the key requirements. However, Pagadala and Shah note a lack of enrollment, with only eight members, forming just enough to create a group in Coppell. 

Whether seeking an engaging after-school opportunity or considering a fun activity with a little sister, Girls on the Run might be worth exploring, in the second part of their Coppell chapter in the spring. 

“Girls on the Run gives us a lesson plan,” Shah said.  “When we walk in, the girls are like ‘Coach Kyna, Coach C.’ It makes my day so much better because they’re so joyful. When we just have fun and go with the flow, we make a lot of fun memories.”

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About the Contributors
Ishita Patra, Staff Writer
Niharika is a sophomore and it’s her first year on The Sidekick as a staff writer.
Rhea Choudhary, Staff Writer
Rhea Choudhary is a junior at Coppell High School; she first took a step in D115 in order to pursue photography for The Sidekick. Despite her initial intentions, she is now a second year member, returning as a staff writer. At first, thought she wasn't the best fit for writing, but after deciding to give it a shot, she soon realized that she let her fear keep her from finding what she truly enjoys doing!  As an avid show binger, Rhea’s top three shows include Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill, as she can go on for hours talking about any of them. She also loves watching classic Hindi movies (with lots of iconic songs and actors in them), along with consistently enjoying listening to her 24-hour Bollywood music playlist, on a loop. Her favorite food is drunken noodles and sushi, along with loving any sweets that contain milk chocolate or caramel. As a member of HOSA, Rhea hopes to pursue a future career in medicine, specifically to become an oncologist. Rhea has completed her Bharatanatyam arangetram, a solo debut/graduation, and is still a dedicated dancer. As an only child that keeps the volume in her house very high at all times, Rhea’s number one friend is Teddy Graham, her mini goldendoodle. Feel free to reach Rhea at [email protected] or follow her on X @rhea_choud.

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