Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cross-Country is Coming

CYO cross-country season is starting up. We don't have many details yet about meet locations or practices, but I've put a page up on our web site that we'll update in time.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

End-of-Season Business

* Awards

I've put up a page on the web site listing all the special team awards that were handed out at our picnic. You can see the full list here:

I also have a backlog of ribbons from the final meets, plus certificates for athletes who participated in the Sectional meet, and even a couple of medals. Some of these awards were handed to classmates or friends, but I still have quite a bit leftover for the following athletes:

Agna Placiakis
Aiden Hanken
Alexandra Dudziak
Alexis Nunes
Alyssa Gaigalas
Andrea Berger
Annie Vasquez
Ash Murthy
Avery Avina
Blake Maxon
Bradley Freitas
Caden Carpenter
Carely Campenchano
Carson Nagel-Holmes
Charley Stoudt
David Jang
Domas Placiakis
Dominick Konstan
Emerelga Delos Reyes
Emma Swanson
Gavin Williams
Grace Shughrou
Harmony Soffer
Ibis Pond
Isabella Scarpulla
Isabella Triana
Isabelle Ariana
Isabelle Rivas
Jackson Simmons
Jacquelin Amaya
Jeff DeBoer
Joey Ormeod
Jonathan Jang
Julia Tarter
Kamaria Soffer
Kosta Konstan
Kyle Crossman
Leander Legaspi
Madison Hartung
Michelle Kerfs
Pauline Akcam
Riley Sweet
Ryan Koeppe
Samuel Andersen
William Koeppe

If your athlete shows up on either list, please let me know and we can set their awards out on my front porch for you to pick up. I live in Pleasant Hill, in the Gregory Gardens area.

* Parent Business

I have deposited the checks from the few families who were unable to meet their volunteer commitments this year. I already notified you by email if you were on this list, and I know there were some extenuating circumstances in a couple of cases. Expect those checks to clear soon.

For everyone else, I have shredded your deposits. You can mark it appropriately in your register. I've also deposited any outstanding checks for YVHS student rentals and coach gifts. If anything does not resolve the way you expect it to, please let me know right away by email and we'll sort it out.

We have five families win a (new) drawing for a uniform next year. I've notified them by email, but they are:
  • Husion
  • Freitas
  • Wallahan
  • Nunes
  • Ormerod

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Track News for June 3, 2012

* Picnic

I think everyone had a good time on Saturday, basking in the sun and wind of the Martinez marina. Thanks to everyone who attended, and to the Armand family for securing the space, bringing drinks and supplies, and firing up the grills.

I still have handfuls of ribbons left over from the last meets of the season, plus some certificates and awards that we gave out at the picnic. I'll get a list up on the team web site this week.

We also had a drawing for a free uniform (shirt + sweatshirt) for next year, and I know that many of the winners weren't present. I'll get email out to all of you soon. You don't have to do anything to claim it beyond signing up next year. :-)

* Cross Country

CYO cross country season starts in August. I'll send a notice to this season's mailing list about it. Coaches Alice Burns & Kathleen Strange run that program, and we'll have information about practices and meets on the web site as we get closer to the start date.

* Summer

If you already miss track, and August seems too far away, you can always sign up for the Firecracker 5K that's run as part of the Pleasant Hill 4th of July celebrations. The run helps to support your choice of local schools, and you're sure to see a lot of familiar faces. Details are on the committee's web site:

* Next Season

We're always looking for assistant coaches to help out with our practice groups: if you like to run, or did track in school, or have a good loud voice and are a crowd-control ninja, please consider being an assistant next season. If you assisted this year, how about being a primary coach?

Signups for the 2013 season will be in January, and I'll send pestering reminders to this mailing list when I set the dates. Please tell your friends about track! Our team is open to all athletes living in our three parish areas, whether or not they are Catholic. I'm always happy to answer questions about eligibility or the team in general. Just send me an email:

* Final Thanks

One last word of thanks: to all the families, to the primary coaches and assistants, and especially to all the athletes who participated this season. It's been a genuine pleasure being your coordinator this year. I hope to see you again next year. (Except for the eighth graders: go to high school and be awesome! You've got a great start.)

Thanks everyone, and have a relaxing summer.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Track News for May 27, 2012

* Picnic
Our end-of-season picnic is this coming Saturday June 2 at Waterfront Park in Martinez. The picnic starts at 11:30, and we'll be setting up around 11:00 if you'd like to help. We'll have grills going and drinks provided: you bring something to cook for your family for lunch, and something to share with the other families. You're welcome to bring chairs, blankets, frisbees, soccer balls, kites, etc.. This is a pretty informal gathering.

We'll be recognizing a number of athletes with awards, handing out all the remaining ribbons, saying goodbye to our eighth graders, thanking our coaches, and trying very hard to reunite all the items in our Lost & Found with their original owners, or with new owners at the end of the picnic. It's a good time for all.

* Summer

CYO slows down for the summer, but don't forget about track...

The Summer Olympics are being held in London this year, so get your Tivo ready to record the track & field events. You'll see some events you recognize, and some new ones besides.

Cross-country starts up in mid-August: we'll talk about this at the picnic, too, but if you enjoyed track, and are maybe a little tired of soccer, why not come out for cross country? Practice is usually at Hidden Lakes Park in Martinez, and meets are on Friday evenings at local parks. It's a smaller, much more low-key program than track & field, and you'll see a lot of familiar faces. Plus: Popsicles on hot days. What's not to love about Popsicles?

* Thanks

I just wanted to say thanks (again) for all the help, support, and effort that each of you put in this season. Just being able to get an athlete to and from practice is often a challenge, to say nothing of working for a few hours at a meet. This was my first season acting as coordinator for our team, and I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without all of your help.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Track News for May 13, 2012

* Diocese Meet

Friday and Saturday marked the end of our competitive season with the Oakland diocese championships in Union City and Livermore. We had athletes from our team competing in nearly every event at the meet. Everyone did quite well: I saw a lot of medals and ribbons and heard about a lot of PRs being set.

Awards for the running events were passed out on the track after the races. Field event awards took much longer, and I stuck around until the very end of the meet to pick them up. I've got a heap to get to the coaches, and we'll bring them to the picnic.

* More Awards

Even if you didn't go to the diocese meet, our sorters have ribbons from the qualifying meet and some personal bests that they need to get back to me. I have the remaining awards from the sectional meet, and once he results come out I know we have some personal bests from this weekend, too. Athletes: make some room in your ribbon box. There will be some special team awards handed out at the picnic: the coaches and I are getting together soon to plan all of these out. And of course, our super-helpful family drawing for those who went above and beyond their volunteer assignments.

* Picnic

Saturday, June 2 at Waterfront Park in Martinez, 11:30-3:30ish: we'll set up around 11 and love extra help.

You should bring:
  • Something to grill for your family & barbeque tools (tongs, spatula)
  • Something to share with everyone else: salads, fruit, chips & dip, dessert -- whatever you like
  • Yourselves! Athletes and their families are welcome
The team will provide drinks and get the grills going. We'll hand out awards by the score, and try to reunite athletes with their belongings as the massive Lost & Found bin appears. Items left unclaimed at the end of the picnic are free to take, and anything left after that goes to charity.

I'll send a reminder email when we get closer.

* Thank You

The CYO Track & Field program is volunteer-run, and completely depends on the participation of the athletes' families to exist. We wouldn't have awards, photos, or meets without your help. And without the coaches, we wouldn't have a team at all. Thank you to everyone for making our team such a huge success this year and in every year.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Diocese meet information

* 800m/1600m tonight

Both the 800m and 1600m events are running tonight at James Logan High School in Union City starting at 6pm. Please give yourselves ample time to get there.

Athletes do not need stickers for the diocese meet. It's still nice to let a coach know that you made it.

* Parade and other events tomorrow

The rest of the meet is back at Granada High in Livermore on Saturday. First shift volunteers need to be signed in and ready to work at 8am, and I recommend that everyone else try to get there early to deal with parking and seating. There will be a small admission charge for everyone except athletes in uniform, and coaches/coordinators with badges. Remember to allow extra time for the spike-check at the gate, too, if you have a pair of running shoes with spikes.

Coaches, there's an 8am meeting on the field (see the program link below.)

We open the meet with the team parade, and we have an amazing new banner to show off. I'm very excited about it. Our team historically leads the parade onto the track, so don't be late!

Immediately after the parade and opening speeches (sorry) the events will open. I recommend printing off a copy of the event order from the Oakland CYO site:

This is also linked from the front page of our team web site.

Again, athletes do not need stickers for the diocese meet. The layout is the same as last week: the clerk area is next to the snack shack, and all athletes and alternates should report to the clerk when their grade and event is called. We won't know if alternates get to compete until the clerks take them onto the track.

* Weather watch

The forecast for Livermore for tomorrow looks sunny and hot. Please pack lots of water, sunblock, floppy hats -- whatever it takes. Athletes: please make it a point to find shady spots tomorrow between your events, and stay hydrated. Spectators, that applies to you, too. If you're bringing some form of shade technology for the stands, show up extra early to stake out a spot in the top rows.

* Video feed

Granada High has a live stream of video over the Internet if you have family who can't make it to the meet.

Almost as good as being there! It's hard to see athlete's faces, but if you know the current event, you can usually pick out our red, blue, or yellow shirts on the track. (I text lane numbers to the grandparents so they know who to cheer for.) Track in the 21st century!

* For all the athletes

HAVE FUN! No matter what the results look like, if you had a good time this season, then you've won.
“Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
                                                              -- Jesse Owens

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Plum District discount coupon for DLS summer sport camps

I know I've mentioned it before, but De La Salle high school in Concord runs week-long sports camps, and devotes a couple of weeks to track and field. It's open to athletes who will be in grades 4-9 in the fall.

There's a coupon offer on Plum District right now that can save you some money on their sports camps. Here's a link right to the coupon:

More information about the camps is on the DLS web site:

My own kids have attended this camp over the past few years and have enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Awards from the Sectional meet... mostly

I have most of the awards from the Sectional meet ready to be passed out at practice tomorrow. We're short in third-place medals and a few other awards, but I've given the count to the league and will keep bothering them until it's resolved.

If your athlete knows they earned a ribbon and doesn't get it tomorrow, please don't freak out. We'll try to get it all settled by the picnic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Diocese meet qualifiers (relays)

We've gotten more updates from the league, so I've put together a draft list of the relay teams that will be competing at the diocese meet. We're waiting on the final, final, final seeding from the diocese, but here's a draft version, showing the names of the athletes who ran on these teams last week:

For the first time ever(?) the other two sections appear to have medley teams, so we're going to run the medley for all grades, just like the 4x100m relay (top three teams run, fourth place team is alternate.) Alternates in the medley might have a better-than-average chance of running, says the league. We'll see what happens. Maybe the event will even show up in the program this year!

The 4x400m is limited to the top three finishers overall by gender. Track is a sport of traditions, even when they don't always make sense -- this is one of those. Bad news for the younger teams that had little competition on the track. There's always next year.

We have CTK placed in all three relays, which is very impressive. If you know for certain that your athlete cannot run on Saturday and they belong to these teams, please let Mike Stone or Trish know immediately so they can make plans and find substitutes. Their contact information is on our coach page:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Diocese meet qualifiers (individual events)

The full results from the sectional meet are available:

I've gone through this list and pulled out the names of athletes who qualified in the individual running and field events:

Congratulations to everyone who competed, whether or not you placed. These meets are much more challenging, and our team is well-represented in the results. We should have a good group for Saturday's parade. Everyone on our team may be in the parade, whether or not you made it to the diocese meet. If you happen to find yourself in Livermore on Saturday morning dressed in your track t-shirt, come on by!

Remember that if you're running the 800m or 1600m, you race on Friday evening at James Logan High School in Union City. Please allow plenty of time to get there with weekday traffic.

The league officials are supposed to be getting together with the other sections by Wednesday. I'll send email when things are updated.

I've purposefully left out the relay seeding for now until I hear from the league. Based on previous years, though, we can make some educated guesses:


The top three teams in each grade and gender from our section will progress. The fourth place team is the alternate, and may not run. I see teams in the 7th and 8th grade girls, and the 8th grade boys here.


The top three teams overall per gender progress. I know this is hard news to the other teams that ran on Saturday. Based on times, it looks like the eighth grade boys and girls teams have the four fastest finishes from our section.


This is still up in the air at the moment. We know for certain that we will be running it, but I'm not sure if we're combining across grades or not yet. Reportedly the other sections have a few teams this year, which is excellent news -- our athletes will get to compete against some new faces. That always makes for exciting races.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Track News for May 6, 2012

* Sectional Meet

Well, we're almost done. The sectional meet was Friday night (for the mile) and Saturday (for everything else.) I got to attend both, and saw a lot of great running, throwing, and jumping on display. I know a lot of our athletes set personal bests, and a few even qualified to move on to next week.

Great job, everyone. Thanks to the parents who helped out on Saturday. You kept things running smoothly, and I was very pleased to not hear our team being scolded over the PA system to provide missing volunteers. I like feeling smug.

* Diocese Meet

That's this coming weekend. The 800m and 1600m are held at James Logan High in Union Cit. Athletes that placed in the top in either event will race on Friday night, starting promptly at 6pm. Given the distance from our home turf, please give yourselves lots of extra time to get there. Remember: athletes may only compete in one of the 800m or 1600m at the final meet. If you happened to place in both, you need to choose one.

Saturday we're back at Granada High in Livermore for another 8:30am start. There is a parade with all the teams in the diocese -- think "opening ceremonies of the Olympics" -- and is really something special. All athletes from our team are welcome to participate. Since we're in Section 1 and the first team alphabetically, we historically have lead the parade.

Again, get there extra early to avoid the huge line at the gate, and having to park far from the school. The diocese meet is very popular and well-attended.

There are usually souvenir T-shirts available as you come in the gate. I don't know if they'll be offered again this year, but it can't hurt to slip a little extra in your wallet, just in case.

* Results

Old-timers will notice that we didn't hand out ribbons at the sectional: this is a new decision this year to keep the coordinators from having to play "pass the ribbon" around as team results are settled. We'll get the results posted and available as soon as possible. The waiting is the worst part.

I know for certain that a number of relay teams disqualified on Saturday. Passing outside the allowed zone is often the worst offense, though I know there were some other problems. If your athlete ran on a team that was DQ'd, please try to take it as a "teaching moment." A relay team is four people trying very hard to work together to move a baton around a track very quickly. Things often go wrong, but these are children involved. It's especially painful when it's your own child affected, but they will grow, and learn, and be fine for the experience. One bad relay will not stop them from being a happy, well-adjusted adult.

The best races I saw Saturday were the ones where it was obvious that the team was coming nowhere near the top three places... and they were smiling anyhow. "Flat last but smiling all the way" isn't a bad philosophy for CYO.

* Special Results

The 4x400 event is handled differently after the sectional meet. To be fairer to the other two sections in the diocese, it is only the fastest overall boys and overall girls teams that progress in the 4x400. Section 1 is lucky to have as many athletes as we do. You'll see a lot of teams in the parade from sections 2 and 3 that are lucky to have a dozen athletes among them, and can maybe scrape up a single 4x400 team or two. Rather than simply dominate at most grade levels, section 1 takes only our fastest teams forward. Happily, our team is almost always well-placed.

Also, the Sprint Medley is always treated as a second-class event by the diocese. You may not see it on the official programs, but we will run the medley at the diocese meet. I believe the same top-times-only rule applies to the medley teams as with the 4x400.

When the results come out, I'll publish them online, taking extra care to show which athletes and teams progress to next week.

* Alternates

I also know there was some confusion and disappointments about fourth-place finishers and their chances of competing last week.

Alternates are never guaranteed to run a race. Fourth-place finishers swap in only if an athlete or relay team can't make it. The odds of an alternate making it into a race are hard to guess, and it's especially frustrating when an athlete or team shows up at the last moment, bumping the alternates back out of a race. As coaches and coordinators, we can't predict who will or won't be able to make a race, so I advise alternates to try and show up anyway, but don't be crushed if you don't get to run: it's not the end of the world, really. (See the "well-adjusted adult" comment, above.)

* Practice

Two more to go: Tuesday and Thursday, same time, same place. The whole team is welcome. If you ask really nice, the coaches might relive their relay race from Saturday.

* Picnic

June 2! Martinez! Waterfront Park! Awards! Speeches! Potluck!

If you have a donation towards coaches' gifts, look for someone at practice, or me on Thursday or next Saturday. Our coaches been working hard since February to build our team. They deserve to be spoiled a little.

* And More Fun Still...

The Christ the King Parish Festival starts next Friday night May 18 and runs through May 20. This is the social event of the year for the CTK parish kids, and everyone is invited. Many of our own team families are working the festival, and your kids are bound to see someone they know from track hanging around. There's games, live entertainment, bingo (of course), books and goods for sale, and other amusements. Come on by, and tell everyone how awesome the track program is.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sectional Update

* Updated Qualifier List

I've updated the qualifiers list to account for scratches that have come in from other teams.

At a suggestion from the coaches, I've also listed lane assignments and alternates in the running event sheets.

Alternates are the 4th place finishers from the meet on April 28th, and they are not guaranteed to run on Saturday. "Alt 1" means an athlete is the first alternate, and will be the first one chosen if a regular athlete is a no-show in that event. "Alt 2" is placed next, and then "Alt 3."

I apologize if this catches you by surprise and changes your weekend plans. If you're attending the meet and your athlete is an alternate, they should sign in as usual, but they (and you) won't know if they're running until the race is taken to the start line.

* Sectional Volunteers

Thank you to all the families who have stepped up to cover volunteer jobs. We need two people (or one dedicated person) to be the "stands marshal" during the meet: there is a morning and afternoon shift open. Please let me know if you can do this job.

There will be an official sign-in table near the snack shack. Volunteers working on the track area will be given wristbands. I will try to position myself near the table first thing after setup to get you signed in and stickered.

* Practice

Our last two practices are next week. Ribbons have been passed out for the meet on the 21st as well as personal bests for the 21st and 28th. Ribbons for the 28th should be coming out soon. Practice is always open to everyone.

Unclaimed ribbons will come to the picnic: I hope you'll be there, too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Families going to the sectional: we need your help!

The work schedule has been put out for the meet this Saturday, and CTK has been assigned some (but not many!) meet positions. The assignment breakdown is on the league site:

You must have a sticker to work at the meet, which I'll have with me. I will be there to set up, and then will hang out near the large concrete water fountain near the snack shack with the volunteer stickers before the first and second shifts. Look for me with the brown cowboy hat, and if it's cold and windy, inside a team sweatshirt, too.

All first shift volunteers need to be there and ready to work by 8am. Not a problem, though, since you'll be coming early for parking, right? Right.

Please let both Katy and me know if you're able to step up and help out with these jobs.

Setup and Cleanup

If you come early, we could use your help. I'll be there with tents to make the clerk area for the athletes, and will be staying to the very end for the meet. I'd love company if you can help on either side of the meet. If you're really early, your admission might even be waived. I plan to be there by 7am, in case you need a definition of "really early."

Cleanup crews start taking down and bagging tents during the 4x400 relay, which is the next-to-last event. If you're there for a 4x400 or medley team, by all means stick around a little and help out.

Clerk of the Course, second shift (noon to close)

This is pretty easy since all the sheets should be run off in advance. You will be verifying that athletes check in to the events by finding their names on a sheet and checking them off. All the races and lane assignments are settled.

Medley Judges at turn #1 (3 openings, near end of meet)

Stand at the first corner during the medley relays and watch the baton passes: they need to occur inside triangles printed on the track, and athletes cannot impede each other (no stepping out of lanes, tripping, etc.) Disqualifications (DQs) happen here.

Relay "Runner" for DQs

Monitor the corner flags during the relays, and if one of the judges reports a problem by putting up a flag, you go out to the corner and find out what the issue was: which lane and team had the issue. There are officials ready to handle the disputes, but we need someone to watch the corner judges and see what issue was raised. This applies very much to the 4x100 relay at the start of the meet: we need to resolve DQs quickly to keep the meet moving.

Judge, first shift

Just like the practice meets, and mainly in case there's an issue with the timing system. Absolutely the best place to be in the meet: you'll see every race finish.

First Aid

If any of our regular First Aid people are attending, please let me know. Otherwise, someone who is comfortable helping kids cool down & calm down, maybe bandaging a scrape or cut. I'll bring our kit and ice packs to the meet.

Stand Marshal
(2 openings: 1 in morning, 1 in afternoon)

Make sure that the railings are clear in the front of the stands (kids like to hang on them, which obstructs traffic and views.) Make sure views are open to spectators: nobody should set up a tent or umbrella in the middle, but only up at the top, out of the way. Sometimes parents get upset at this meet -- see DQs, above. We need to remind everyone to use CYO-appropriate language and behavior. There are marshals from many teams in each shift, in case there's issue with other parishes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Qualifying results are up, Sectional meet information

Our coordinator's meeting was last night, and we reviewed all the results from the meet on the 28th. The results are up as a Google spreadsheet and are linked from our team website and from the league's page:

Congratulations to the athletes who qualified and will be representing Christ the King, St. Catherine, and St. Stephen on Friday and Saturday.

If your athlete qualified, then they should absolutely plan to attend the meet. If your athlete is an "alternate" then they should also plan to attend. Alternates are placed when a regular athlete is a no-show, and I have seen many alternates moved up at the last moment to compete over the years. The 800m and 1600m do not have alternates because those events do not run in lanes -- all listed athletes may compete.

* Showing Up

The 1600m (mile) event will start at 6pm this Friday at DVC. Athletes running this event should plan to be there no later than 5:30pm. You need to find parking, get through the gate, and locate your coaches before you run.

All other events are run on Saturday at Granada High in Livermore. First gun on Saturday is at 8:30am, and based on my experience trying to find parking in the past, you should be walking in the gate by 8:00am or before. There is a small attendance fee that will be collected at the gate on Saturday to defray the league's costs.  It's usually a couple of dollars for adults, and a bit less for children. Competing athletes, coaches with badges and coordinators with badges do not need to pay admission. It's a small perk, but we'll take it.

All athletes competing on Saturday and Sunday will need to wear a sticker with their number and team as usual, which the coaches or I will have. Show up and find your coach right away.

I can't say this enough: please do not be late. The 4x100m relay is the very first event on Saturday, and coaches need to have teams prepared and in the clerk area right away. Late athletes and relay teams are scratched from competition.

Athletes bringing track shoes (spikes) will need to have them inspected at the gate. Only one-quarter inch pyramid spikes are permitted in CYO. I have spare spikes and wrenches if you lose one. Please allow time to get through the gate, and have your shoes ready for inspection.

* Settling In

The Sectional and Diocese meets are very, very popular. Parking is always at a premium, and seating in the home stands doubly so. If you plan to bring a tent or umbrella for the stands, you need to be there extra early to stake out a place in the back (top) of the stands. Don't block someone else's view, please: you'll be asked to take your portable shade down if you do. Granada can be very windy, so plan to bring bungee cords to lash down everything, too.

The visitor-side stands are usually sparsely populated, by comparison. If you are coming for a few events, you can always set up on the away-side and walk around to watch the finish of the race from outside the fence. I like to pack a pair of binoculars for these meets.

* Out of Bounds

Absolutely no one is allowed on the track or field at any time during the Sectional meets except for signed-in athletes being directed by the meet staff. Everyone must sit in the stands, no exceptions. The clerk area is typically closed to anyone besides athletes: not even coaches or coordinators may violate the holy sanctity of the E-Z Up tents. In years past, the clerk area at DVC has been outside the track fence on the north side, near the snack shack and restroom buildings, and at Granada it is tucked away behind a fence between the stands and snack shack. Show up early and orient yourselves to the facility.

Athletes should use the bathroom before going into the clerk area, because they're usually not allowed to leave once signed in.

* Following Along

The event order at the Sectional is different than practice meets, and sometimes grade orders are reversed. The order of events is on our web site:

I recommend printing it off and keeping it handy, and helping your athletes pay attention to the calls.

Athletes and alternates need to report to events when called, and at the Sectional, every field event will be running both a boys and girls area, so they will close promptly. Don't wait for the final call: get over to the event and check in, even if you're an alternate.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Track News for April 29, 2012

* Qualifying Meet

Well, we survived. I know that took a long time to run, but we had to be extra careful with the results, and we're not allowed to take our usual shortcuts. It looks like everyone had a good time, and got properly sunburned. Thanks to all the volunteers who did bonus shifts, and to those who watched their "short" afternoon shift carry on... and on... and on...

The results will take a little bit more time to come out because we're into championships now. Please remember that placement is done overall in an event, regardless of the number of heats. That is, all the heats in a grade are scored together. I'm attending a meeting Monday night to go over the preliminary results with the other coordinators in our section, and to plan for next Saturday. If you've notified me that you won't be able to make the Sectional, we'll take this into account -- another athlete may get to move up and compete.

* Sectional Meet

This Friday night, May 4th, we'll have the the 800m and 1600m events at DVC. If your athlete happened to qualify in both, then they need to pick one of the events for competition. This is a diocese rule, and out of my hands. We had a lot of milers on Saturday, and not so many in the 800m. It's going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Update:  I have this incorrect: only the 1600m runs the night before at DVC. The 800m is run as usual on Saturday. Athletes who place in both will choose after the Sectional.

All other events run the next day, Saturday the 5th, down at Granada High in Livermore. Yes, Livermore. We've been spoiled this year by being rained out of nice, close locations. Granada is special, though, because they have a "FAT" system (Fully Automated Timing) which theoretically speeds a meet along by eliminating the finish-line dance of sticks, timers, judges, magic markers, misfires, and other excitement. When it's working smoothly, it's a spectacle to behold: your athlete's times show up on the scoreboard and everything. I'll write up a special Sectional meet letter for later in the week.

Parents who are fortunate enough to see their athlete place into the Sectional should expect a polite tap on the shoulder from our volunteer coordinators about doing up a volunteer job. The league handles most of the big jobs, and they mostly need bodies to help shuffle kids to their proper places, or to read measuring tapes. Don't worry: you can do it.

If you're heading to Granada, be aware that the Portola Ave exit no longer exists. Please check directions in advance, and make sure your GPS systems are up to date. We have directions on the team site as well:

* Practices

Even if you didn't qualify, please feel free to keep coming to practice. The attendance numbers historically drop off after the Qualifying as athletes hang up their running shoes and drift off into other commitments, but we're still at College Park twice a week right up through May 10th. And as an added enticement...

* Ribbons

We were late in getting them from last week's meet, but they're now in the sorter's hands, and should be back to me soon. Also, I've got personal best ribbons figured out from the 21st which need to go to our other sorter, and I'm sure I'll have more personal bests for this Saturday's results. We track personal bests for individual events all the way through the season, and times set this season are used for comparison for next year's first meet.

* Results

I've gotten all the results up online except for the relay meet, which I'll do this week. Everything is posted online with links from our schedule page:

I see lots of improvements even in this weird, wet season. Qualifying is nice, but growth is better. That's what we're about.

* Picnic

Have you got it marked on the calendar? The annual team awards picnic potluck is Saturday, June 2nd at Waterfront Park in Martinez. Numerous awards are handed out to athletes and volunteers, we say farewell to the eighth graders, thank-you to the coaches, and most importantly, try to reunite your kids with all their lost stuff. I have one of those big black meet boxes literally overflowing with clothes and shoes (!) left over from practices and meets. Come for the picnic, stay for the free clothes -- anything unclaimed at the end of the picnic is fair game, and trust me, there's a lot of nice stuff in the pile. I have dressed my kids in warmup gear for years thanks to the mighty CTK Lost & Found.

The team will supply drinks, charcoal, grills, and a place to eat. You bring something to share, something to grill for your family, and any utensils, plates, napkins etc. that you'll need. The last time I was at Waterfront park it was gusty and bright, so please plan accordingly.

* Thanks

Since this may be the end of the season for many of you (but not the end of my emails!) I just wanted to say thanks to everyone: to the parent volunteers who jumped in to do an unfamiliar job because they looked unoccupied, to the coaches and assistants for devoting their weeknights and weekends to trying to wrangle nearly 200 children into some sort of order, and to the athletes themselves for trying hard and having fun. I had some big shoes to fill this year as coordinator, and it has been a genuine pleasure. I won't be sad to turn in all the meet gear that's piled on my porch, but I'm already looking forward to next season. Thanks, everyone.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Track News for April 22, 2012

* Practice Meet #4

Wow, what a great day. After all the rain this year, I didn't think we'd see a meet like Saturday's. Abundant sunshine, occasional breezes, blue skies. That's what I signed on for.  This was our last meet at Ygnacio Valley this season, and it was a great sendoff. We certainly appreciate their hospitality and especially their students-for-hire.

If you have an outstanding payment to make for a YVH student, please get it to me as soon as possible. Checks should be made out to "CTK CYO" to reimburse the team, since I've already paid for the athletes. The YVH boosters appreciate your support!

* Relay Meet Results

It seems like there were a lot of hiccups in the results from the relay meet on 21st. I'm having the coaches look over the results from the data-entry people. If your athlete competed at the relay meet and is missing a ribbon, please let me know their name and what event they ran and I'll mark it on the sheet. The spreadsheet of results is online, and I've already made some corrections. I appreciate your patience as we try to get these sorted out.

* Volunteers

We need you at the Qualifying meet! Please drop Katy a note and let her know if you can take a shift or two. Don't forget the "super-helpful family" drawing at the end of the season...

We could especially use help with relay judging, backup timer (using a stopwatch), and cleanup crew at the end of the meet. Trust me: working a job makes the meet go faster.

* Qualifying Meet

Our next meet is at DVC, and is the beginning of the "championship" meets for the league. There are a number of different things that happen starting with this meet:

- Participation

Athletes must participate in the Qualifying meet to be eligible to proceed to the Sectional meet the following week. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even for athletes or siblings attending a first communion ceremony. Our league officials want me to remind you that participating in a holy sacrament is much more significant than running a relay race. I know that this affects a few families on our team -- I'm sorry. Please try to enjoy your child's first communion anyway.

If you think it is likely that your athlete will finish in the top of their events at the Qualifying meet but are certain that you will not be able to go to Sectionals, let me and the athlete's primary coach know. This may open up a chance for another athlete to attend in their place.

- Promotions

Second-grade athletes (and younger) now compete as third-graders. Coaches will do their best to remind the athletes of their new grown-up status. This means that their finish times and field events will also be measured against third graders.

- Place

Only the top three finishers in an event -- plus one alternate -- are eligible to continue to the next week's meet. Place is determined overall for an event, not within the heat. So, in events of more than one heat, it is only the top three finishers (and one alternate) who may progress. Even if your athlete finished first in her 100m heat, she may still have come in fifth overall across all the 100m heats in her age group. You'll need to wait for the final results to be posted before making plans to attend the Sectional meet.

Results from the Qualifying meet are a little more particular and gone over more carefully than those from a practice meet: I'll let you know when they're available.

- Pure Relays

Starting with the qualifying meet, all relay teams must be gender-, grade-, and parish-pure. So, we can no longer form a single team assembled from CTK, SC, and SS athletes. Instead, everyone in a relay team needs to be wearing the same shirt, and be the same age group, and use the same restroom. This affects the smallest parishes the most, since they are unlikely to have four-of-a-kind to make up many teams.

The only modification to this rule is for the Medley relay, which is allowed to consist of same-parish, same-gender athletes of multiple grades. The team runs as the grade of the oldest member of the team. The diocese does not yet recognize the Medley as an event -- a sore point for many of the coordinators in our league! -- so we are given a little leeway.

- And More...

Unlike individual events, whole relay teams are given a berth in the Sectional, subject to the limits above. So, a top-finishing St. Catherine relay team would qualify -- as a team -- to run the next week, though the roster or order of athletes on that team may be changed in times of need. This is rare, and is mostly something that the coaches worry about. Coaches' decisions about members of a relay team and their order are final. I will be happy to listen to you if you feel that your athlete has been slighted, but I am very likely to side with the coach. If your athlete is on a qualifying relay team and can't make the Sectional, then you definitely need to let me and their primary coach know at once so we can place an alternate.

These meets are also when relay judging gets much more particular, especially regarding baton hand-offs. There are judges stationed at the corners to watch the passes and to ensure that they are taking place within the boundaries. There's usually at least one team disqualification during these meets because of passes outside of the zone or crossing over lanes. DQs can be very upsetting to the athletes and their families, but please do not take a disqualification as an invitation to harass, berate, insult, or yell at judges, timers, or any other volunteer at the meet. That's a good way to get evicted from the meet and get your athlete -- or even the whole track team -- disqualified.

This is where that "keep perspective" speech I gave back in the parent's meeting really applies. Comfort the team as best you can, remember that everyone on the track is a volunteer who gave up their weekend to stand in the hot sun and watch children hand a piece of aluminum to each other, then search for "relay baton drop" on YouTube and remember that it even happens in the Olympics. CYO is a recreational, church-affiliated youth track league; we're a long way from the Olympics. Perspective!

- Event Limits

As always, athletes must follow the "2-and-1" plan for events: participate in a maximum of two individual running events and one field event, or two field events and one individual running event. There are no limits to the number of relay teams an athlete may belong to, as long as it is a legal team. Athletes doing more than the allowed number of individual events may be disqualified from all of their events.

One extra wrinkle: starting with the Sectional meet, distance runners must choose to either compete in the 800m or the 1600m, but not both. Normally this isn't a problem, but there's usually a few die-hards that love to run both. Sorry, die-hards: you need to pick one. The 800m/1600m are run on the Friday evening before the remainder of the Sectional meet, and this pattern is repeated the following week at the Diocese final. To recap: you may qualify in both, but you have to choose one for the Sectional meet, and let me and your primary coach know so we can promote an alternate for the other event.

- Boy, That's Harsh

This may seem unnecessarily severe for a sport (and team) that prides itself on inclusiveness and "everybody tries" but remember: every weekend there are three league meets held of about 450 athletes each. From those we need to focus down to the top athletes in our section (Section 1) to compete against the top athletes in the other two sections of the Oakland diocese.  It's quite a production. If anything, the meets from here on out get bigger.

If your athletes are discouraged to have their season end this week or next because of schedule conflicts, religious ceremonies, injury, or whatever other reason, I completely empathize, and take that as a good sign -- they like track and their track friends, and will miss it. We'll miss them, too. But don't put those shoes away yet!

* Practices

Regardless of any athlete's results, whether they qualified or not, practice goes on as usual at College Park. Even if an athlete's competitive season is over for the year, we'd love to see them at practice. We practice right up to the bitter end, to the Thursday before the Diocese.

There's only six practices left! Please come out and help me use up my remaining Starburst stockpile and give the coaches something to do in the evenings.

* The Future

What's next? The Sectional meet and the Diocese championship are coming up fast, and our end-of-season potluck picnic and awards ceremony happens in June. And if you really want to plan ahead, the cross-country team starts up in August. More on all these exciting things in future newsletters. If your athletes are doing very well in these meets, expect Katy and I to come knocking on your email asking which jobs we can sign you up for at these additional meets. Yes, this counts as being super-helpful.

I have a Diocese meet flyer that I just received in email, I'll post it on the site and send the details around when it's online. And that's more than enough reading for this week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Track News for April 15, 2012

* Relay Meet

Those who were able to make it to the relay meet yesterday were treated with a gorgeous day, possibly the nicest I can remember at Ygnacio Valley in a very long time. The threat of a lacrosse tournament made us rearrange a few things at the last moment, but we were able to get everything done after all.

* Practice

Speaking of lacrosse, the College Park team has a game scheduled for this Tuesday the 17th right during our practice window. For safety, we cannot practice on the track that day. Stay tuned to email to find out what the alternate plan will be. Maybe a trail run?

The College Park team is also planning on  moving their regular lacrosse practice times to later in the day during our practice. It's not clear yet if this impacts us, or even if it's an issue -- we've coexisted before -- but we're trying to get it settled.

* Rent-a-Student

Now that we've successfully managed to actually hold a meet, I'll be cashing the checks for those of you who hired an Ygnacio Valley High student for one or more shifts. We are scheduled to run at YVHS again next week, and George Francis with YVH says that he can even make a small group of students available for the Qualifying Meet on the 28th at DVC. Katy and I will carry forward anyone who has hired a student but not actually had a chance to use them yet.

* Volunteer Shifts

Normally at this point in the season, families are well on their way to earning the "super helpful" status by doing extra shifts during meets, either out of the goodness of their hearts, or because a replacement never showed up, or both. Thanks to Mother Nature, this year has been a little different, to say the least.

Our standard procedure for rainouts is to give everyone credit as if they worked the shifts they volunteered for, and we're sticking with that this year. But we're not done yet! There's still meet #4 next week, the Qualifying Meet on the 28th, and then the meets beyond...

* Meets Beyond

Yes, there are meets after April 28. Athletes who place in events on the 28th will progress to the Sectional Meet on May 4 and 5 (the 800m and 1600m are run on the 4th, all others on the 5th.) Top finishers at the Sectional Meet go on to compete in the Diocese Championship on May 11 and 12. So don't worry! If your athlete runs fast or jumps well or throws far, we'll very likely be calling upon you to help out at one of these final meets.

The drawing for "super helpful" families might wind up being smaller this year, since there haven't been as many chances to volunteer above-and-beyond the normal. Returning families are realizing this also means better odds at the picnic prize drawing. We're still always glad for any extra help that you can give in this weird, wet season. Please make sure that we get your name down on the volunteer sheets if you work any extra jobs. This program can't exist without help from all of you, and we're all grateful for the effort and time that each of you put into it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Relay Meet details

Due to the especially soggy season that we've had this year -- and all the cancellations -- the league has decided to allow the relay meet to count as a "practice" meet for purposes of athletes competing in the Qualifying Meet at the end of the month. As you may remember, athletes are required to compete in two practice meets to be allowed to run in the Qualifier (our mini-meet doesn't count.) This decision gives us a little extra breathing room. If you're able to attend, I hope we'll see you on Saturday.

Since we're at YVHS again, we have a limited number of high school students for rent who can cover your shifts. Many of you have pad me for one or more shifts over the past few weeks: please let me know if you would like to apply it to this week. Let me know which job you were scheduled to work so we can update our volunteer sheets.

Just to recap the events and order that we'll be running on Saturday:

4x100m relay (all grades)
Medley (all grades)
4x200m (only grades 2-4)
4x400m (only grades 5-8)

The "Medley" is a special relay run only at the meet -- the legs are 200m, 200m, 400m, 800m. Even though this is a long event, we're going to go ahead and hold it early on so our younger athletes don't all disappear. Remember that we can form teams across grades and parishes, so it's not unusual to see younger athletes take the shorter legs and have older ones run the longer distances. This is for fun, after all.

The other unusual relay is the 4x200m. I have in my notes that we were planning to open this up to only grades 2-4, and leave the 4x400m open for grades 5-8. This is different from last year when everyone could run the 4x200. I'm double checking with the other coordinators that this is what we agreed on. Personally, I'd rather see the older athletes save their strength for the 4x400, but we'll be consistent with the other relay meet.

Update: This is the confirmed list of events and the order. We will not run the 4x200m for older grades.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mini-news for Easter week 2012

Hello everyone,

Just a couple of quick items for those of you around this week:  

* Practices

If Mother Nature cooperates, we'll have practice this week. Check the web site by 4pm on practice days to be sure.

Remember that the main College Park parking lot is probably locked up, so do pickup/dropoff in front of the school.  

* Relay Meet April 14

We're back for another try at Ygnacio Valley High this Saturday for the relay meet. I won't attempt to predict the weather this early in the week, but know that we will run a meet in showers... just not a hurricane like the one at the end of March. Sigh.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Track News for April 1, 2012

Hello track families, here's your news of the week.

* Meet #3

Mother Nature played an early April Fool's trick on us yesterday, and if you braved the wind and rain, you were treated to the sight of a bunch of coordinators having a weather debate while we tried to keep the pop-up tent from blowing over into Walnut Creek. I'm sure this is some kind of karmic payback for having so many nice days for practice.

There are no facilities available for us for a meet today, so we're going to have to again pass on a meet this week. This also means that you need to make sure that you can attend practice meet #4 on the 21st. There's a minimum number of practice meets athletes need to attend to compete at the end of the season, and we're running out of weeks!

I'm still hoping for a make-up meet sometime this month, which will take some of the pressure off.

* Practice

We only have one practice this week because of Easter (see below). The coaches have something special planned for Tuesday, so please try to be a little early so we can do announcements.

We might also need some extra adult help on Tuesday. If you're able to stay and do a very easy job, we'd appreciate it.

* Easter Break

CYO rules state that we may not have any activities in the days leading up to Easter, and over Easter weekend. So, there is no practice on Thursday, April 5 and no meet on Saturday, April 7. Have a good Easter, and save a Reese's egg for me.

Many families may be going on vacation during spring break, but if you're still in town, practice will resume on Tuesday, April 10. Do not move mountains to attend; if you can make it, great. We're happy to have you there.

Because College Park High is also on spring break, the large parking lot gate is typically locked up, a fact that I have forgotten every year now when I nearly plow into it with my car. The loop in front of the school should be practically empty, so you can look for parking there. Please be extra careful at drop-off and pickup as athletes dodge in and out of cars.

* 8th Graders and Families

While you're missing track over Easter, please take a look at this scholarship opportunity from CYO:
Each year, the Oakland Diocese CYO awards the Marty Mart Scholarship Award to an outstanding 8th grade CYO player. The award is named in honor of Marty Mart, longtime CYO associate director. The scholarship is funded entirely by private donations and is open to any 8th grade player who participated in a CYO sport this school year.  (Players who participated only in Girls' CYO Volleyball are not eligible since there is a separate scholarship for them that was previously awarded.)

The scholarship committee is now inviting applications for this year's 2012 Marty Mart Scholarship Award, one $500 scholarship. An application is on the team web site. Also, the application form is posted on the CYO website, On the homepage is a link to a special page with information and past recipients of the award.

Over the years, we have interviewed and awarded scholarships to outstanding young people in our CYO program.
Bill and Grace and the Marty Mart Scholarship Committee
I plan to get my eighth grader to do this: how about you?

* Relay Meet

Right at the end of break is our annual Mary Chatterton Memorial Relay meet, which features -- you might have guessed -- nothing but relays. There are no individual events of any kind at this meet, but you will see a lot of teams running together, some formed just moments before the start of the race. This meet is a lot of fun and only a little bit of chaos.

The events are:
  • 4x100m relay (all ages)
  • 4x200m relay (grades 2-4 only)
  • Distance Medley Relay (200m, 200m, 400m, 800m) (all ages)
  • 4x400m relay (grades 5-8 only)
There are no limits to the number of relay teams an athlete may participate on beyond the grade limits, and it's guaranteed that you will see several teams of "Saint Mix-and-Match" and "Our Lady of Hodgepodge" take the track. Because these are all team events, we do not award personal best ribbons for this meet, but the league usually gives out ribbons beyond just the normal top three finishers. Even if your athlete doesn't earn a ribbon, I know they'll have a good time.

Because there are only four events, you might think that this meet will take very little time. You would be wrong! Somehow, this takes just as long as a regular meet to conduct. We've got quite a backlog of rent-a-student hires out there: I hope we'll actually be able to make use of them this time.

Coaches: remember that we have the "free agent" program at this meet to form ad-hoc teams as needed: I've even got a giant red sign just for the occasion. Please be prepared to help form teams on the field at the meet, especially if you see someone from another parish looking lost.

That's all I have for this week -- see you at practice on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


If you didn't get the news yet, typhoon-like conditions shut down the meet at YVH this morning in very short order, though that didn't stop some of our coaches from getting the real die-hard kids to run a lap or two ("Hey, it's not like you're going to get any wetter.")

Today didn't work out quite as I'd hoped. I did expect the weather to turn, just not 15 minutes before we were supposed to start. CYO rules do allow for make-up meets, and I've emailed out league coordinator to see if there's a facility that we can use on Sunday. He's probably being rained out of his meet as I type this...

Also by CYO rules, a Sunday meet may not start before 12pm, and this will surely conflict with plans that many people have made, but if we are able to find a location and reschedule, we'll be happy for anyone who can attend.

No, this is not an elaborate April Fool's joke. I'll keep you posted as I find out more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Track News for March 25, 2012

* Meet #2

Despite our best guesses, the weather held out after all. In hindsight, I'm disappointed that we didn't hold the meet, but honestly, if I saw another day where the weather forecast looked as bad as it was on Saturday morning, I'd be very skeptical about getting everyone out onto the track. Last year we got rained out of a meet on what was supposed to be only a cloudy day, so it is always an imperfect science. I appreciate your patience as we navigate the surprises of spring!

* Results

I've managed to stumble over a problem with the website which was muddling up our results, but I've now finally uploaded both the mini-meet and meet #1 results online.


Meet #1:

You may see doubled relay results for a little while as the folks sort out the upload problem.

If you notice that your athlete is missing a result, or that I have a name spelled wrong, or some other issue, please let me know and I can track down the issue.

* Practice

Ribbons from our first meet were handed out this past Thursday at the end of practice: if your athlete is due a ribbon, they can pick it up from their coach.

We will be starting to hand out "Personal Best" ribbons as soon as they are ready. Remember that athletes earn these by setting a faster time or throwing or jumping a greater distance than the last time they competed in an event. Returning athletes earn personal bests against their previous seasons' records. Rookie athletes will be eligible to start earning these after the next meet.

* Lost and Found

Our lost and found runneth over! There are now so many items that it's beginning to overflow the box on my porch. Please look over the list and let me know if one of those things belongs to your athlete.

There are also a couple of items that our athletes are missing, and that I do not have. Please check through your belongings and make sure that they didn't come home with you by accident.

* Easter

Easter is coming up, and by CYO rules, we take a break. Be sure to check the schedule page on the web site to see when we do (and don't) have practice. We may not hold practice on Hold Thursday or any CYO activities over Easter weekend.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I've consulted with the other coordinators and our magic CYO crystal ball (the Weather Channel web site) and we've decided to cancel today's meet: the risk of getting wet plus the cold air temperatures increases the threat of our athletes getting injuries, and that's no fun for anyone. Please stay home today and we'll see you at practice.

If you were scheduled to work a volunteer shift, don't worry: you will not be penalized. We move right on to planning next week's meet as usual. Anyone who signed up for the rent-a-student program can get a refund from me at practice or just let it stand for one of our other meets at Ygnacio Valley.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Leftover shirts and sweats

Hello everyone: this is what I have left in the shirts-and-sweats department:

Pre-ordered and ready to be taken home:

* Sweatshirt for Natalie Meyer
* Sweatshirt for Quinn Patterson: Izzy Triana or Josie Thomas, please pick it up for her
* Shirts for Cassie, Courtney, and Caleigh Silva
* Shirt for Marcy Morse
* Shirt for William Wygal
* Shirt for Oliver Armand

Available for purchase:

* Youth sweatshirts: 1 small, 2 large
* Adult sweatshirts: 1 small, 1 medium, 2 large

These are available on a first-come, first-served basis at practice. Exact change ($30) required, cash or checks to "CTK CYO." Once they're gone, they're gone! If you miss out, let me know and if there's enough interest, I can get another order together.  We're at Ygnacio Valley a lot this year (windy) and at Livermore for the diocese championship meet (windier!)

If your athlete is already growing out of their shirt, I also have extras for all three parishes in selected sizes. Let me know if you need to get a larger size, and I can look through the supplies to see what's available.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Track News for March 18, 2012

* Meet #1

Wow! I'm not sure how we managed it, but I think I only felt two or three sprinkles the entire time at Saturday's meet. I think the secret was holding a meet on St. Patrick's Day with St. Agnes and their shamrock-green uniforms. Special thanks to all the parents that worked extra or "surprise" shifts, the coaches I press-ganged into jobs, and the field event people that saw their simple single-shift jobs stretch well beyond. As the season progresses, everyone gets faster -- athletes, parents, and coordinators! -- and we see the meets run a little more smoothly.

 * Stormy Weather

Hopefully the heavy rain is behind us, or at least will fall on days when we're not out running. I check the forecasts carefully on the days of our events, but my prognostication powers sometimes let me down, and athletes and their families get a sample of the local liquid sunshine. If you feel the weather is too unpleasant/cold/wet for your athlete, you may make the choice to keep them home from practice, but we'd like advance notice if you plan to do the same for a meet -- especially if you are signed up to work a job! Thursday turned out to be surprisingly nice, with a glimpse of both a full rainbow and the high-school team returning from a trail run covered in mud. Track is a magical sport.

I can all but guarantee you that your athletes will fondly remember the meets where they got a little wet (or a lot!) "Remember that time we did relays and Jimmy ran through the puddle and lost his shoe? That was awesome!"

* Practices

Practice times are 5-6:30pm for the remainder of the season. While we wait for the track to clear at 5:00, please be sure to assemble in the central section of the stands. Now that we're in our meet season, there may be pre-practice announcements from the coaches or yours truly, and you certainly don't want to miss those.

With the longer practice, the coaches are starting to pass out "Starburst awards" to their athletes for a variety of reasons: good sportsmanship, trying a challenging event at a meet, showing extra hustle at practice... sometimes even just for showing up and running when it's less-than-ideal conditions outside.

We use the cool-down time at practice to hand out ribbons earned from prior meets and Starbursts. We'll start passing out ribbons once we get results back from the league's data-entry team.

* Personal Bests

I've ordered a huge stack of gold ribbons from the trophy store, and nothing would make me happier than to run out and have to order more. Returning athletes will start earning these based on their performance at Saturday's meet by comparing to prior seasons' results, and new athletes will be able to start earning them after next week's meet.

* Meet Life

A friendly reminder that adults who are not actively working a shift at any meet need to observe from the stands. Meet volunteers must be signed in and wearing one of our fashionable stickers. Everyone else needs to be off the field. We were pretty loose about this at early meets, but when we get to the diocese-run events, it's cause for athletes or even whole teams to be disqualified. The same applies to athletes: between events, they should clear the field area and head for the stands.

The league wants me to remind all athletes and coaches that pacing an athlete is not permitted: no running alongside your athlete or friend while they are competing. Coaches may certainly encourage athletes who are looking a little faded (or who stop!) but please don't run with them. Thanks.

Please keep all food and drink in the stands. You're sitting there anyway, right? Of course you are. The only edibles allowed on any turf and track surface is plain water. Sugary drinks and snack crumbs will ruin the surface of the field and our relationship with the people who own the facility.

* Meet Results

Results from the mini-meet are linked from our team schedule page as a multi-page Google document. You may need to download it to see all the events.

My next task is to get them posted to

Results for all future meets will be linked from this page when they are available.

* Upcoming Meets at YVHS

Our next round of meets are scheduled for Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord. This facility is a little more exposed than College Park and DVC, so please make sure your athletes dress appropriately, anticipating windy conditions or bright sunshine, and often, both. Wearing outer layers is strongly encouraged. I was pleased to see so many of our new sweatshirts at DVC on Saturday, keeping everyone warm and looking stylish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainy-Day Reading

Hello all -- a little rainy-day reading for you as we wait for the sun to come back.

* Practice

I am hoping for practice tomorrow, but I'm keeping an eye on the weather channel, too. Check the web site or Twitter for practice status.

My kids were bonkers last night, how about yours?

* Saturday's Meet

Right now, I am cautiously pessimistic that we will be having a meet on Saturday. I am preparing as if it's going to take place, and I will be up early Saturday morning to check the forecast and consult with the other coordinators who are attending. Please check the web site first thing on Saturday for updates.

With damp weather, our options are:
  • Hold the meet anyway and do as much as we can
  • Delay the start of the meet
  • Reschedule the meet if possible
  • Cancel entirely
Stay tuned to figure out what we've chosen.

Based on conditions at the track, we may not hold certain field events if we determine they are unsafe.

All of the track surfaces that we run on are synthetic and tend to drain well, so it's very rare that we cancel a running event, though we may drop some later events if we're conducting a meet and the weather turns bad.
* Mini-Meet Results

I have them all typed in, but I have a question for the folks who worked shot put. If you worked the shot area, could you please send me an email right away? I want to make sure I understand how you recorded the distances. Nobody's in trouble, honest.

One piece of track trivia this week: did you know that all the running events are measured in metric units (meters), but all the field events are measured in English units (feet and inches)? It's true! And strange. So, if you're working a field event, take extra care that you are using the proper side of the measuring tapes, and that you're measuring to the correct precision: usually this is to the nearest 1/4". We were not super precise about this at the Mini Meet, but starting with out first actual meet -- whenever that may be -- we all need to be careful about correct measurements, which means bending down and reading off the tape. Please don't "eyeball" results starting with the next meet. The clipboards at each event explain how to run them in excruciating detail.

You can also read each of the clipboard sheets from our web site:

* Meet Hosts and Jobs

Starting with the first meet, you'll also notice a lot of additional strangers on the field. Because CTK/SS/SC is one of the largest teams in the league, we act as the "host" team for many meets -- all of ours this year, including the relay meet. We have a reputation for running efficient, fun meets, and that's a good reputation to have.

Starting with the first meet, we farm out volunteer slots to other parishes based on the total number of athletes on each team. It's very likely you'll find yourself working with someone from another parish. Introduce yourself, and find out about their kids.

For the first meet, the teams running with us are:

Christ the King, St. Stephen, St. Catherine (hosts)
Holy Rosary (HR)
Immaculate Heart of Mary (IMH)
St. Anthony (SANT)
St. Mary (SM)
St. Francis (SF)
St. Agnes (SA)
Queen of All Saints (QAS)

Katy has gone through the volunteer sheet and assigned empty slots to these parishes to fill. If you worked a key job at the mini-meet (head timer, starter, head clerk) please make sure that we have your name in that position. I have made some Executive Decisions and moved a few of you without warning. :-) Before you show up at my door with pitchforks, remember that you're doing this for the athletes, and that having experienced people in key jobs means we all go home sooner. I've never heard anyone complain about a meet ending too quickly.

* Away-Side Short Sprints

Starting with this meet, we begin our away-side short sprints (say that five times fast!) We learned this trick a few years ago from another team: during the 50m/100m event, either the girls or the boys run on the opposite side of the track. We alternate who gets the honor of running across the regular finish line, and who gets to run on the opposite side.

This week, it's the boys running on the away side. Families of the boys are welcome to walk around the outer fence to the away side for these events and watch the finishes. Running sprints this way can shave an hour off the total running time of the meet, but it does mean that boys need to pay attention for the calls so they know when and where to line up. Parents who volunteered for this shift will be called during the girls' 400m event.

* Stickers and Badges

With the extra people at meets, it's doubly important that all parents who are not working a volunteer shift be up in the stands. There are safety issues (softballs in the air!) and it's harder to conduct the meet if there are extra folks hanging around. Unless you're wearing a volunteer sticker and working a shift at that moment, please stay off the track and field areas during the meet.

All the coaches and coordinators from our league had a mandatory certification meeting on Monday night so we should all be wearing our new 2012 badges on a CYO lanyard at every meet. The only people who should be on the track and field at any time are adult volunteers with stickers, coaches and coordinators with badges, and athletes waiting in the clerk area for the next running event or waiting at a field event after their grade has been called. At full strength, we expect over 400 athletes at this meet, so please help us maintain the illusion of control and wait in the stands.

Thanks all, and think sunny thoughts.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Track News for March 11, 2012

Hello track families, here's the news of the week.

* Mini Meet

I think Saturday's meet went very, very well: we ended on time, had very few problems, and got a lot of kids tired and sunburned. That's a job well done in my book. A huge thanks to all the volunteers -- scheduled, drop-in, and accidental second-shifters -- and to the coaches for helping the circus run so smoothly.

I am getting all the results from the meet keyed in to the computer. During the season, this is handed off to a crack team of data-entry wizards, but for the mini-meet, you're going to have to
be satisfied with me. Two items about the results:

* Only compare your athlete's times or distance to other athletes in the same gender and grade. Yesterday was a small meet -- if you can believe that -- and we ran many "combined" heats of multiple grades to make best use of the track. Your athlete's results only counts against their peers, no matter who else they were sharing the track with at the time.

* There are the usual amount of glitches and surprises in the results, so please remember again that this meet was just for our own practice. Do not make plans for the 2020 Olympics based on your child's numbers from Saturday.

If you're new this season, you can visit our team's page on to see past results and records for all the athletes dating all the way back to the 2007 season, when we first started using the site.

Due to the way works, all our athletes are reported as "CTK" regardless of their actual parish. Once I learn how to massage our mini-meet results, they will appear on this site as well.

* Radio Missing

I think one of our volunteers walked off with a Motorola family radio after the meet on Saturday, though I haven't checked every meet box to see if it's hiding somewhere. Please make sure that it gets back to me or to a coach at practice so I can put it back in our kit. Otherwise, some field event crew will be reduced to using polite hand signals to communicate next Saturday.

* Uniforms

I still have some t-shirts earmarked for our athletes. I will go through the box and send email around about them. We also unearthed a cache of new, extra shirts in case you have a desire to buy a second one, or in case your kids suddenly grow a foot.

The sweatshirts are almost completely sold out! This is fantastic news: I'm happy that everyone likes them so much. I think I have a couple that belong to athletes as well. If you missed your chance to get one, I am willing to place another order with our printer, as long as we can make a minimum number. Printing and delivery time was about two weeks, and we're keeping the price at $30.

* Practices

We make the most of the switch to Daylight Savings time by extending all future practices until 6:30pm. This is the schedule for the remainder of the season.

* Swim Meet?

The weather forecast looks menacing this week. Remember to check the web site for weather-related cancellations on practice days and meet days, too. Think sunny thoughts for Saturday.

* Meet #1

This Saturday's meet is at Diablo Valley College, right across the street from our practice field. Come in on the Viking Drive side of DVC, as if you're going to practice, but turn into the DVC lots instead.

Setup volunteers need to be at the track and ready to work at 8am, everyone else arrives by 8:30am for the first gun at 9:00am. If you are working the first shift at the meet, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to arrive, find parking, and get down to the field: there will be a crowd at the signup table.

Athletes will be competing for ribbons at this meet, and returning athletes will try to earn some of the coveted gold "Personal Best" ribbons. All ribbons will be handed out at practices, and results will be posted in the same way as the mini-meet.

* Rent-a-Student

Now that you're all veterans of a track meet ("I survived mini-meet 2012!") I'm going to tell you how you can skip out on future jobs without penalty! A few years ago, my predecessor and the track coach at Ygnacio Valley High worked out a "rent-a-student" program, where families could hire a high school athlete to work their assigned shift at a meet. Proceeds go right to the track team, primarily to pay for their many league fees.

A quick peek at the College Park flyer for this year shows that each athlete must pay $200 just to be on the team, plus $50 transportation fees, plus $130-$205 for "participation fees" (uniform and team fees.) Other schools have a similar fee structure, and so, Rent-a-Student was born.

For $25 per shift, you may hire a student to work for you at a meet. This does not come out of your volunteer deposit. You can think of it as a donation that gives you a chance to sit in the stands and help out our struggling school athletics programs at the same time.

We are still seeing if we can arrange this with the College Park athletes for our DVC-based meet, but this program is established at Ygnacio Valley High, which clever families will notice is our meet location many times this season. Very clever families can even choose to rent-a-student for a meet that they themselves won't be able to attend (like the relay meet, during spring break.)

The one restriction I put on this is that you do not buy out if you are in a "head" job -- head timer, head clerk, head high-jump, starter, etc.. We need your expertise on the field. But students make excellent long-jump helpers, softball throw workers, shepherds, and more.

If this is appealing to you, you need to do the following:
  1. Send a note to me or Katy Simpson informing us of the meet date and job that you are scheduled to work: we will mark it on the master sheet. Do this soon so we can try to reserve a replacement for you.
  2. If we can arrange it, then get $25 to me in cash or check made out to "CTK CYO" before the meet date. Handing it to me at practice is fine, though make sure I know who you are (envelopes with your name on them are appreciated.)
  3. On Saturday, sit back and enjoy the meet from the stands.

You are not at all required to participate in this program, but I know the schools appreciate your support.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hi all -- never let it be said that I under-communicate...

It looks like we're going to have good meet weather for tomorrow. Please be on time to sign up for your shifts, especially if you are working setup (be at the field at noon) or a first-shift job (be at the field at 12:30pm.) Athletes should also report by 12:30 to locate their coaches, get signed in, and warm up. We will try very hard to start promptly at 1pm, and I plan to finish by 4:30. The second shift positions are still looking a little thin -- we always appreciate it when families are willing to step up and take on another shift. You'll learn a lot, your day will pass quickly, and you'll be one step closer to the coveted "Super Helpful" status.

Even though this is our parent practice meet, we will still conduct it like the others this season, just a little more slowly. Only coaches and signed-in volunteers should be on the track and field during the meet. We're expecting the St. Monica/St. Perpetua team to join us tomorrow as well, so please be gracious hosts and recognize the efforts of all the athletes, regardless of which t-shirt they are wearing.

For those of you new to track, or who are a little rusty since last spring, I've made up a small "event order" card that you can print out and keep in your pocket to help you follow along:

Girls run events first, starting with grade 2 and working up to grade 8, then boys run from grade 2 working up to grade 8.

Some events are grade-limited (like the 50m) and we will combine grades for some events (the 1600m, the 800m), so please pay attention to the announcements on the PA system. It's a good idea to sit near a coach or make friends with a veteran track family if you're feeling lost. You'll be able to recognize them: they're the ones wearing sunscreen under a heavy sweater.

Finally, remember that athletes must follow the "2 and 1" rule: they may participate in at most 2 individual running events and 1 field event, OR 2 field events and 1 individual running event. Relays are unlimited, though we will probably only run the 4x100m tomorrow.

Looking forward to our season -- see you tomorrow at College Park.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mini-meet: Are you super-helpful?

Hello again families,

So far, it looks like the weather will hold for the mini-meet on Saturday. I know a few of you have other commitments -- baseball opening day, the CTK auction, etc. -- but I hope you're able to make it. If you are *not* going to attend for some reason, and you have signed up for a volunteer shift, please let Katy Simpson know *immediately.* Otherwise, your name will appear on the signup sheet at the meet, and we will assume that you have flaked out on us. Not a good start to the season!

Katy's contact details and a link to the volunteer assignments can be found on the team web site:

Also, you may notice that there are (still!) gaps in the schedule. This is where the Super-Helpful Family Program comes in.

We have asked that everyone work six total shifts over the course of the regular season: one this Saturday, and five more beyond. If you are willing to do more, however, and sign up for an extra shift here and there, you will be entered into our end-of-season Super-Helpful Family Super-Awesome Super Drawing. (I hear it's super.) Each additional shift that you work beyond your minimum will earn you one entry in the drawing, which we hold at the picnic -- need not be present to win. If you work three extra times, for example, then you're entered into the drawing three times. Prizes include gift certificates to restaurants, movies, and other local businesses (maybe shoes for next year?) plus the adulation and envy of your fellow track families.

The conditions are:

- Open to adults in CTK/SC/SS families only, not coaches or (sadly) the team coordinator
- You must sign in at the meet at either the volunteer table or with me: don't just show up at a job
- If you work a double shift when you only were supposed to work one -- it happens -- then sign in for that second shift, or we won't know about it

We truly depend on adult volunteers to conduct the meets, and I speak from experience when I say that working a meet job will make the day go *much* faster.

Thanks again everyone: see you at practice, and weather-willing, at the mini meet.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Uniforms and sweatshirts

Those of you who braved the chill winds of practice tonight saw our crack team of uniform sorters taking names and digging through boxes to hand you the pre-ordered shirts and sweatshirts. Just a couple of quick notes: * It was *freezing* tonight at College Park. Those sweatshirts sure are toasty! Athletes: if someone bought you a sweatshirt, please be nice and wear it. You'll keep your muscles warm and look awesome at the same time. * Why is my athlete's shirt red/blue/yellow? Because we're made up of three different parishes, that's why. We all practice together and run meets together, and except for the Qualifying meet and beyond, parish affiliation really doesn't matter. Coaches will usually try to form relay teams from within a parish, but it's perfectly normal to see a team of "St. Hodgepodge" running at a meet. Athletes only need to wear the t-shirts to meets, though they're welcome to wear it to practice... under something warm (see above.) * Wrong size? Want an extra? We're happy to oblige you. Once we're able to get all the pre-ordered uniforms and sweats passed out, I'll take stock of the leftovers. Adults: you can speed this process along by making sure to stop by the table on the way to practice on Thursday. You may swap a *new, unworn, unwashed* t-shirt for another size if I have one to trade. There are more spares in the CTK (red) shirts than the others, but I did order a little bit extra. And parents, siblings, and family are all welcome to buy & wear the fantastic hoodies. Thanks all, and stay warm!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Track News for March 4, 2012

Hello track families, here's your news for the week:

* Practices

Checking the forecast looks like we're back to "track weather": sunny days interrupted by menacing clouds, rain, and cool temperatures. Shockingly, some of the athletes believe that this is the perfect time of year to wear t-shirts and shorts, no matter what the thermometer says. It's not. Long pants and sweatshirts are perfectly appropriate and encouraged, especially at College Park when the evening breeze comes blowing down over the hillsides. If you need a way to motivate your reluctant athlete, please have them take a look at how the high school athletes are dressed when they arrive at practice. If running pants are good enough for the high school, then they're good enough for us, too.

Anything worn to practice should have a name on it so it can be reunited with your family afterward. Just because it comes to practice doesn't mean it will make it home.

* Uniforms

Pre-ordered shirts and sweatshirts are in the hands of our highly-skilled sorting team: expect their appearance at practice very soon. I was sure to order some extra sweatshirts if your athlete had a change of heart or has $30 burning a hole in their pocket.

Note that any drops that take place after uniforms are handed out will have the relevant charges deducted: once that shirt or sweatshirt is in your athlete's hands, it's theirs.

* Mini-Meet

Our first meet is this Saturday, March 10th. Setup crews arrive at noon, everybody else shows up at 12:30, and the first event begins at 1:00. As in years past, we have invited other parishes to come and run with us. It's a lot of fun.

We do not award ribbons at this meet since it's not an official league-run operation, but we do record times and distances. Since this is a parent's practice meet (shhh, don't tell the athletes), we complete as many events as possible, but generally stop before the final two relays. This is the only meet this season with a guaranteed stop time!

If you're brand new this year, or just need a refresher, you can go through the "How a Meet Works" page on the web site:

Read the "Meet Tips" page, too:

For an overview of every volunteer job at the meet, see this page:

It seems like a lot, but you'll catch on quickly.

Please remember that meets are for the enjoyment of the athletes, and not for the spectators. Everyone competing is someone's child, grandchild, niece or nephew. This is an excellent time to remember and use the Golden Rule.

The College Park team is planning to run a Snack Shack at the meet. Please remember that food and drinks must be eaten in the stands. The only thing allowed on the track and turf areas is plain water. You may bring coolers of snacks from home, but no alcohol is permitted at all. Please be kind and pick up your litter afterwards, and an extra piece or two besides.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Track News for Feb 26, 2012

Hello track families, here's your news of the week.

* Adds/Drops

Final day to drop from the team with a full refund is this Wednesday, February 29. I need to get our roster to the league so they can start assigning meet locations to the teams. If your athlete isn't feeling the love, or if they have a friend/classmate/neighbor who would like to join, please try to handle this before Wednesday.

If you're leaving the team, please let me know at once so I can remove you from the volunteer sheets and issue a refund. Don't just disappear.

* Uniforms

The team t-shirts and sweatshirts are in! And by "in" I mean "in a huge stack of boxes at my house." They will be distributed at practice once they are all sorted out.

While you wait, please invest in a laundry marker so you can write your athlete's name in a findable place on the sweatshirt. Past experience tells me that a few will be left behind on the very day they are handed out.

* Lost and Found

We're averaging 2-3 new additions to the team Lost & Found per practice. I've left some of the older unclaimed items at home to make room for the new finds. Everything will make their appearance at the team picnic. If you see something you recognize on the list, send me an email and I'll bring it to practice just for you.

* Practices

The College Park track team is starting their practice season, and is using the track area and equipment before our practice starts. Very often College Park has hurdles set up. None of our athletes should be running in lanes with a hurdle, or should attempt to jump them. They'll get their chance in high school. If you must cross the track, do it quickly, and only when it is safe.

Starting this week, various soccer clubs may also practicing on the field area at the same time that we're running. This is a good time to remind your athletes about the importance of listening to their coaches and not wandering away from their practice groups. Please make sure that they know to pay attention and to keep an eye out for stray soccer balls from the infield area that might roll onto the track.

We are scheduled to start high jump practice this week: if there are parents or older athletes that are willing to hang around at the very end of practice and help us put the jump bags back into the shed, we would greatly appreciate it. There's a system to it, and helping hands make the job easier.

* Field Clinic #2

Barring any last-second schedule surprises, our second field clinic is scheduled for today, from 1:30pm-3:30pm. We will set up around 1:00pm, and gather around the base of the goalpost on the north side of the field near the long jump pits. All athletes are welcome to attend, and parents can stay and help, too, especially with softball throw. I hope to practice all of our field events:
  • Long jump (all ages)
  • Softball throw (all ages)
  • High jump (grades 5 and up only)
  • Shot put (grades 5 and up only)
At the first clinic, we also had some relay practice and conditioning drills. This is a very informal practice, and we'd like athletes to sample everything that they're eligible to try.