Monday, January 28, 2008

Track Practice Structure

Hi Coaches,

Here are some details about how we run our practices. All times are approximate. Remember -- our goal is to have fun, be safe, and also to make everyone feel welcome. You'll have some super athletes in your group but also some kids who don't look much like track stars to the untutored eye. They will all surprise you.

5pm -- Everyone arrives and gathers in the bleachers where we'll usually bore the kids with a few announcements. It takes a while for everyone to trickle in. The CPHS track team will usually be on the track until 5:15pm, but we'll still tell everyone that our practices begin at 5pm.
We have to keep the kids off the track for safety reasons so I hope you'll all help.

5:15pm -- The high school team should be off the track by now. Practice begins with a warm-up lap and then we break up into "primary groups," each of which is lead by a "primary coach" as follows: Val Gebhart (2-3 boys), Diane Quigley (4-5 boys), me (6-7-8 boys), Karen Sandri (2-3 girls), Paul Hollidge (4-5 girls), and Sharon White (6-7-8 girls).

Each group will have a spot on the track where the kids will wind up after their lap (or lap and a half, depending the group). We do this warm-up lap before we begin stretching since it's best to stretch warm muscles.

In the past, we usually did static stretching first followed by running drills/dynamic stretching. This season, for my group at least, we're going to change that around since many of the kids don't actually warm up much as they lazily walk the warm-up lap or show up late.

-- Running drills/Dynamic stretching. Again, the primary coaches will lead this to begin with and you'll quickly get the idea. We encourage the kids to skip higher, lunge farther, and lift those knees higher, claiming all the while that it will improve their performance. Maybe it will.

5:25pm --
-- Static stretching. The primary coaches will lead this at first and then assistants can take it over once you know the program. I like to let different kids lead the stretches though it can be challenging to keep them from being excessively silly about it.

This will take about all of our time for the first couple of weeks as darkness will descend.

After the first couple of weeks, you'll be treated to me blowing a whistle as hard as I can as a signal to break into workout groups. Each primary group will have different options on different days and you will help your primary coach distribute your group. This is naturally harder for the younger groups than the older kids, but on the other hand the younger kids actually take suggestions more readily so it's a wash.

Depending on who is available for field events, we will have shot put, high jump, long jump, relay practice, road runs, and both sprint and middle-distance workouts.

As we approach the end of practice, I'll blow the whistle again to send everyone back to their groups. They are supposed to do another lap (we call it the "cool down lap") and then stretch with their groups until they are dismissed.

At College Park, we will then walk the kids to the parking lot and at least one coach of each gender will wait with the kids until all are picked up. I often am happy to wait out the inevitable late parent, but occasionally have to leave right away for another event so I hope you'll all take a turn every few weeks.

See you soon!


Welcome 2008 Track Coaches

Hi Coaches,

Thank you very much for volunteering to coach track this season.

Our first practice will take place one week from tomorrow, at 5pm on Tuesday,
February 5, at College Park High School track.

I will fill you in on our little ways over the next week so that all of the new folks
have some idea what to expect over the coming season. Retired head coach
Chris Walsh designed our practices over the past three years and I'm open
to suggestions on improving what we've done in the past. More on that later.

But first, there are three preliminaries to take care of first. Please read
the following carefully:

Besides the actual practices, every organization has its share of requirements
when working with kids and the Oakland Diocese is no exception.

1. Every coach is required to complete an online program called Shield the Vulnerable.

The Diocese of Oakland requires that all NEW volunteers complete safe environment training. To take the course on line:
  • Log on to
  • Select "Oakland Diocese"
  • Fill in registration form and indicate "CYO."
  • Complete registration and begin course.
  • Complete the training and print out the certificate.
  • Bring the certificate to the workshop (see next item)
2. There is a mandatory CYO Philosophy meeting for all of the coaches in the league coming up on Thursday, March 13th. There is a flyer describing the meeting here:
As usual, the meeting will take place at CTK though in the Parish Hall this
year. Note that this meeting is mandatory, though you may attend another section's meeting instead.

By attending this meeting, you will become a "certified coach" which is theoretically required for all of our coaches. During the season, only coaches wearing the certified coaches badge will be allowed on the track at meets. Please mark your calendar and attend hustle over to CTK right after our practice on March 13th.

3. All coaches must turn in a completed Volunteer Application. I handed out the form
during sign-ups, but it's also available for download from the team web site (on the Handouts page).

Thanks again for your help!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Welcome to CTK Track 2008

Welcome to the 2008 CYO Track & Field Season!

This being the 21st century, I'm going to publish the weekly (at least) team newsletter as a blog this season and see how it goes. This means that previous postings will be archived so you don't need to save them yourself (as I know you all do) and even that I can go back and fix mistakes. More than once since I started coordinating the track program have wished I could retract an email already sent out.

I've entered the kids signed up so far and those who I am certain are still to sign up and we have 186 athletes already, divided roughly between girls and boys and pretty evenly spread through the grades. (We are actually rather short of 2nd and 3rd grade boys, which also happened last season, so please spread the word!)

Meanwhile, here are some important tidbits:
  • I will make the team roster available shortly just to team families, and post more news about our team at least weekly during the season.
  • Our first practice will be Tuesday, February 5, at 5pm at College Park High School track
  • We will accept late sign-ups at practice through February 21.
Rain Info
  • We will practice in light rain, but cancel practice for a real rainstorm, especially if there is any danger of lightning. Rain earlier in the day won't affect our practices because College Park has an all-weather track.
  • Check the front page of the team web site ( for a decision about rain cancellations if the weather is bad.