Colene Hoose Lady Hawks putting their hearts, souls into running

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Micaela Harris

Micaela Harris, Editor-in-Chief

Colene Hoose Elementary teacher, former NCWHS volleyball coach and lifelong athlete, Maggie Nelson has a passion for inspiring, helping and teaching kids. From this passion, blossomed Heart and Sole, a running club which strives to empower fourth and fifth grade girls.

“This is something I’ve been dreaming about for years,” Nelson said. Heart and Sole meets Wednesdays and Thursdays after school for about an hour, adhering to  a program of self-esteem, confidence, and team building activities followed by a run on the Constitution Trail.  

Maggie Nelson gives the girls of Heart and Sole a pep talk prior to running on the trail.
Micaela Harris
Maggie Nelson gives the girls of Heart and Sole a pep talk prior to running on the trail.

Nelson had heard of similar programs at other schools and approached Colene Hoose principal Adam Zbrozek about the idea of starting a run club, who gave her his full endorsement.  She then knew that she needed help from some of her colleagues who also wanted to inspire girls through running.

Nelson presented her ideas during a faculty meeting and received an incredible amount of support. “All of these teachers that you see with me today, came up to me within minutes and said, ‘That sounds amazing, I’m in!’”

Grinning ear to ear, Nelson continued: “So the first thing that I kind of told them, and all the girls, was from my most motivational coach; a gymnastics coach who actually lost both of his legs. He was told by everybody his whole life you can’t do gymnastics, you can’t do sports, you can’t; and he said I can because if you throw your heart over the bar, your body follows.”

The idea of leading with your heart is central to the program, and from it sprouted the name “Heart and Sole”. When the girls first met, Nelson gave them each a small heart bead that they all put on the laces of their shoes, that way, a glance down reminds them to lead with their hearts, and keep on running. Although, the girls find more inspiration through each other.

Ten-year-old Keegan is in fourth grade at Colene Hoose, and when asked what her favorite part of Heart and Sole was, she responded: “I just like hanging out with all of the girls without all the boys judging us!”

Heart and Sole has two key elements: inspiring a community of young girls and preparing for the annual Hoose Hustle, a 5K run which benefits the school. However, most people who are part of the program will say that the running is secondary.

Fifth grader Myra said, “I think it’s really motivational to just come in here and join, like it’s fun and easy and really cool.” When asked if she would recommend younger girls to join next year, Myra enthusiastically answered: “Yes, it would be awesome!”

Between 40 to 50 girls participate at each club meeting and they look forward to the Hoose Hustle on May 18th.  

Colene Hoose teachers show off their hearts.
Micaela Harris
Colene Hoose teachers show off their hearts.
Heart and Sole stretches before beginning their run.
Micaela Harris
Heart and Sole stretches before beginning their run.