GOTR Alumna Lila Peters Builds Character Running at Sanderson High School
Girls on the Run of the Triangle alumna Lila Peters, an award-winning high school cross country and track athlete, in part credits her time with GOTR to her successes on race day, including her ability to be a good teammate and in building strong character.
Lila, a sophomore at Sanderson High School in Wake County, joined a GOTR team at Douglas Elementary School in 2009 when she was in third grade. This school year, Lila has run for SHS’s cross country and track teams; she consistently ranks high in women's races in North Carolina.
During her time in GOTR, Lila realized running isn’t as difficult as people may initially think. “Most people think, ‘oh no, I’m not going to do that,’” Lila said. “But since I did GOTR with one of my friends, it was more of a fun thing to run together and talk. That made me realize it was something to be enjoyed.”
She also recalled her coaches gave out GOTR water bottles once a week to girls who showed good character, a memory that has stayed with her over the years.
After taking a few years off from running, she said she distinctly remembers going for a run one summer afternoon. “I liked it so much, I felt so good for the rest of the day. I thought, ‘I’m going to do that again tomorrow,’” she recalls.
Since that summer afternoon, Lila has won accolades for cross country and track. However, she is able to put losses into perspective, a quality she calls a building block of character.
“When I don’t win, I don’t get really upset because I’m new to running as a sport,” she said. “When I do win, it’s hard work paying off.” Her advice to others includes never losing sight of their goals and morals.
“If the reason you started running was to have fun and it’s not fun anymore, then you’re losing the character that was there,” Lila notes. “Or, if it’s bringing out a competitive side of you that’s not very nice, that’s not good character either. I think running ties in a lot with character because it teaches you how to be a good sport and push yourself.”
Lila also said running helped her transition into high school, including dealing with stressful situations. She does remember a few lessons from the GOTR curriculum that focus on peer pressure and living a healthy lifestyle.
“Running teaches you to relax, because you can’t always control circumstances,” she said. “You have to keep it in perspective because it is just a part of your life.”
As for mentorship, Lila credits her teammates, her coaches, and her parents for her successes this season. “I’m still getting mentored myself,” she said. “I feel like the best I can do is to be encouraging to everyone and be kind to everyone.”
Eventually, she hopes to take on more of a leadership role on her team, perhaps as a captain. And she wants to encourage other female runners that they’re equally as capable as their male counterparts. “It has nothing to do if you’re a guy or a girl,” she said. “If you do the work; you will get the outcomes.”
In addition to running, Lila has trained as a dancer for more than a decade. She also volunteers with Passing Along Lifelong Smiles (PALS) at SHS, an organization for special-needs classmates. She also plans to volunteer with nonprofit Girls Gotta Run, which empowers girls in Ethiopia who use running to empower themselves and their communities. Lila was named SHS’s Rookie of the Year in 2016 and also lettered during her first athletic season, in addition to other awards and activities.