Hampton’s Girls on the Run promoting healthy lifestyle

Thursday, July 18, 2019 | 12:01 AM

For the third straight year, parent volunteer Heather Killmeyer headed something at Hampton’s Poff Elementary School she didn’t have to.

Killmeyer, 40, coached the Girls on the Run team, although her daughter is too young to be a member.

Fifteen students from fourth and fifth grade participated in the spring.

Part of a national program, Girls on the Run uses fun, experienced-based curriculum, which integrates running, to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. The season is capped with a noncompetitive 5k event.

UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital hosts the program in eight Western Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny.

Girls on the Run was Killmeyer’s first coaching experience, in 2017.

“When Poff was looking for a new head coach, I researched the program to see what it was about,” said Killmeyer, who is married and has two children. “After reading the program description and mission, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Killmeyer, who is an avid runner, said the experience has been rewarding and fun.

“Each lesson is around a specific theme, which varies between self-esteem, relationships, communication and healthy eating,” Killmeyer said. “Each year, I see the girls grow individually and as a team over the course of 12 weeks.

“It’s an amazing transformation.”

Teresa Fritsch, 10, participated as a fourth grader this year.

“I liked the activities that we did to get to know each other and build stamina,” Fritsch said. “Coach Heather was super nice and encouraging, always helping us when we needed it.”

Fritsch’s mother said Killmeyer is a fantastic coach.

“She is patient and and very supportive of the girls,” Julie Wieczorek Fritsch said.

Poff principal Dr. Colleen Hannagan admires Killmeyer’s dedication.

“I’m always impressed that she volunteers to coach (Girls on the Run) because it is very time-consuming,” Hannagan said. “This seems to be something that she truly does out of the kindness of her heart.

“It has been such a positive influence on our girls.”

Girls on the Run Magee council director Meredith Colaizzi said Killmeyer is dedicated.

“She is always kind, prepared and engaging,” Colaizzi said.

Killmeyer said her daughter, Julie, who turns 8 in August and is entering third grade, looks forward to being old enough to be a part of the team.