JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 3368

Professional Development

NAA publishes fresh, new content every week covering a wide variety of topics related to the field of aftershool. In addition, NAA offers a variety of opportunities for virtual professional development (PD) through meaningful content, conversations and connections. Click here to see full descriptions of virtual PD offerings.

Whatever the Obstacle

Every day, youth and adults alike face obstacles in various forms. Stacie Sather, program director and long-time coach for Girls on the Run (GOTR) Sonoma County, shares her perspective on teaching youth that despite challenges, we must move forward.


Several years ago, my daughter, Sunshine, and I went for a hike. While walking, she noticed an unusual tree.

If you can't tell, it appeared that a rock was lodged between the branch and the trunk of the tree. That really isn't all that unusual.

OK. It is kind of unusual.

But what really caught Sunshine's eye was the way the tree began to grow around the rock. The tree decided to absorb its obstacle rather than allow it to hinder its growth or to impede its forward motion. As we talked about what we saw, I said, "It's kind of a metaphor for life."

My daughter looked at me confused.

Instead of explaining right away, I let her sit with the thought for a minute.

As we continued our journey, she suddenly stopped and said, "It means that no matter what gets in our way, we keep moving forward and growing! Right?"

I was very proud of her 10-year-old mind for figuring that out. I was proud of her for understanding that, while there are going to be obstacles in our lives, we must keep moving forwardno matter what.

We must keep growing.

Obstacles are thrown in front of us every so often as we move through life. Sometimes, the obstacles are self-made; other times, the obstacles are completely out of anyone's control. But what is important about obstacles, whether in life or sport, is this:

How you respond to them matters.

For me, sometimes that response is immediate and positive. I readjust in the moment, correcting what needs to be corrected and move forward. Sometimes, the response is immediate and negativeoften resulting in self-deprecation, blaming myself for not being prepared for the obstacle or telling myself I can't ever conquer it.

It is in the moments of self-doubt that I am thankful for my experience with the Girls on the Run curriculum. As a veteran Girls on the Run coach, I have learned to reframe negative moments into phrases that are more beneficialphrases that strengthen my Star Power instead of clouding it and making what I am facing seem insurmountable.

My experience with GOTR isn't just about the lessons, however. It's about how I model endurance as well.

I am a role model for these girls, so even in moments where I doubt myself, I move forwardslowly but surely. I want to talk honestly with my girls about life experiences and share with them how I was able to ask for help when I needed, reframe my thinking and move ahead.

How I deal with obstacles, in all aspects of life, continues to grow. I am getting better with managing even my biggest obstacle: myself. I will continue to channel the perseverance of the tree we found on our hike that day.

Not only did the tree triumph its obstacle, it absorbed it and kept growingmaking itself that much stronger in the process.

StacieSather-HeadshotStacie Sather is an English teacher at the local junior college, program director and long-time coach for Girls on the Run Sonoma County, mother, wife, friend and athlete.

This article was republished with permission and originally appeared on Girls on the Run.

Photo courtesy of Stacie Sather.