Sunday, February 2, 2014

Track News for the week of February 2

Hello everyone, and welcome to the regular newsletter of the Christ the King/St. Catherine/St. Stephen CYO track team.

This installment is longer than usual thanks to all the start-of-season information.

Practice starts this Tuesday, February 4th at 5pm, College Park High

We practice at College Park High school track on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting at 5pm and going until dusk. This week, we'll end about 5:45pm. We'll gain a few minutes each week, and once daylight savings begins, we'll go until 6:30pm.

I try to keep the schedule on the team site up to date:

College Park is on Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill, just across the street from the DVC stadium. You may park in the large fenced lot next to the high school. The track is at the bottom of the hill, to the west of the high school. We gather in the stands together before practice, as other sports may be using the track or field before us.

Here's a map:

  • Drive slowly in the parking lot
  • Walk your athletes to the track
  • Go around the outside of the track to/from the stands
  • Don't climb fences or the hillside
Adults are welcome to stay in the stands during practice. I'll be there collecting forms and fielding questions, and I always enjoy the company. Tip: bring something soft to sit on.

If you're looking for me in the stands, I'm the guy in the brown cowboy-style hat. I may not remember your faces, but I'm sure to have handled your paperwork a few times by now.

What if it rains?

The short answer is: "we get wet." It is, after all, an all-weather track...

Just kidding. If the weather looks bad, I'll make a decision about practice by 4:00pm and post to our Twitter feed about it: we're @ctktrack on Twitter. Assume that practice is on unless there's a message to the contrary.

This also appears on front page of the web site, in a box in the upper corner:

Always check Twitter or the team site if the forecast looks gloomy. To my knowledge, no CYO athlete has ever melted by being caught in a light drizzle.

Help spread the word

Our numbers are little down this year, especially in the girls' grades 4 and 5. If you have friends living in our team's area, or classmates at the parish schools or religion classes, please let them know about us! A mention to a teacher or other parents at drop-off would be appreciated.

We'll take registrations for a while yet, and I'll bring blank forms with me to practice for the next few weeks.

I'm happy to field eligibility questions, too. There are many CYO teams in the area, and all of them are eager for new runners.

Parent meeting, Monday February 17, 6:30pm at CTK parish hall

New families are especially encouraged to attend the family meeting, held in the parish hall at Christ the King church in Pleasant Hill. The hall is directly off the main parking lot, next to the gym. Doors open at 6:30pm for any new signups, and we'll come to order around 7:00pm or when everyone starts looking restless.

Children usually find this meeting utterly boring, and tend to be happier at home. I'll be on hand for questions, and I know a few of the coaches are planning to be present as well. We'll do our best not to bore the adults.


I'm pleased to announce that Gina Marks is our volunteer coordinator this season. She and her dedicated team of reminder elves will be in touch with you over the season to remind you of your upcoming commitments at meets.

Gina's contact details are on the site's "Volunteers" page:

I believe we still have openings for some team jobs, and are always on the lookout for any medical professionals who would be willing to work in the first aid tent at meets. Gina will be happy to sign you up for this elite squad if you can free up some Saturdays.

Experienced families: we have many openings for the "head" jobs at our meets. Timer, starter, head clerk, finish-line coordinator, etc... you should know these by now. Please contact Gina about upgrading your "general volunteer" position to a job that will earn you the admiration and envy of your children. ("That's my mom with the gun!") As meet hosts, we should be covering these positions. Gina is fully authorized to assign them so we can conduct the meets. Avoid surprises and upgrade today!

Being prepared for practice


  • Go to the bathroom at home
  • Dress warm (this applies to adults, too)
  • Bring water to stay hydrated
  • Wear running shoes
Bathroom facilities are very limited at College Park. Athletes will be happier using the restroom at home, I promise. The line will be shorter, too.

Everyone should be dressed for the weather, remembering that the College Park stadium is exposed, and always feels a few degrees colder than the rest of the county. Sweat pants or running pants, sweat shirts, even hats -- think warm! Label every piece of clothing that could possibly be left behind. Chances are they will be. Athletes do not need to wear uniform t-shirts to practice. Those are required only at meets. Our team sweatshirts are both cozy and fashionable if athletes want to show team spirit.
Bring water, preferably in a reusable sport bottle of some kind with the athlete's name on it. Don't leave litter behind: it makes our team look bad and makes the coaches and coordinator grumpy when we have pick up afterward.


All athletes must practice in running shoes. Athletes do not need track shoes ("spikes") at practice. It's fine if they have a pair, but they won't need them for while.

Shoes should fit well, and provide good cushioning and support. Athletes in inappropriate shoes may have to sit in the stands with me and be bored. I'm sure I'll have paperwork that needs to be alphabetized.

I highly recommend going to one of the local running shoe stores to have your athletes fitted. Fleet Feet in Pleasant Hill, Road Runner in Concord, and Athletic Outpost in Walnut Creek are all good choices, and historically each have given discounts if you mention you're running in the CYO track program.

Good shoes aren't cheap, but they are necessary to help prevent injury.

What to expect at practice

Every practice starts with at least one warm-up lap. This is not a race. Athletes should take this at a easy pace and conserve energy for the rest of the practice.

After the warm-ups, we usually break into groups by grade, and coaches for each group will lead a workout of some stretching and some aerobic movement. We'll then do whatever activity is scheduled for the day. Sometimes athletes will stay in their groups, sometimes they'll do an activity as a team.

Near the end of practice I'll blow a whistle to signal the final cool-down lap. After that, athletes meet with their coaches for final stretching and parting words of wisdom. If you're huddling for warmth in your car, this is a good time to come down to the track for pickup.

Adults may always arrive early and wait trackside by the water fountain, or come around the fence to the stands. We can't let any child wander off unattended; we need to see an adult come for the kids. We love training them, but we also love sending them home afterward. Please be on time at pickup!

Practices will be chaotic for the first week or two. I'll advise patience from both you and your athletes. Usually most of the kids find a buddy or two in their group and get used to the routine quickly. Stick it out for a few weeks and see how it goes.

Questions or comments?

Something I missed? Got a question that's nagging at you? Email is the best way to get in touch with me, especially during the day: I'll try to get an answer back to you quickly.

The team web site also has a wealth of information. Coach contacts and details about practice groups will be posted as soon as signups settle a bit.

That's more than enough for this week. Looking forward to practice and the start of the 2014 season!

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