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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Three Track Things

Hello everyone, three quick notes:

1) Remember that we have a special field events practice scheduled for this Sunday, starting at 1:30pm. All athletes are welcome to participate, even if they came to the first clinic on the 18th.Remember to bring water and maybe slap on some sunscreen, too.

2) If you have not completed your paperwork or owe me a check or two,please take care of this right away. I need to get our roster into the league next week. I must have the following on file for every athlete:birth certificate (or other legal proof of age), health release,concussion form. All fees need to be paid up before the first meet. I have records of everything, and will be contacting you to settle. Katy Simpson will also be making sure you're set up with volunteer hours.

3) The Lost & Found is overflowing. I'm going to start leaving older items in the archives (a bin in my porch.) Email me if you recognize something, and expect to see the whole collection at the picnic.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Track News for Feb 19, 2012

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

* Sportsmanship

I'm getting some reports of athletes teasing one another, or making unkind comments. This is a good time to remind everyone that we follow the CYO Code of Conduct, which everyone needs to read and abide by:

These rules apply both at practice and at meets. Athletes and parents who are unable to follow these guidelines will be asked to leave the program.
* Volunteer Positions

If you're recently joined the team, you should have heard from Katy Simpson or one of her helpers about your volunteer responsibilities. Please find your family name on the meet schedules available from the "Volunteers" page, and make sure that agrees with your calendars.

Families of athletes receiving their First Communion this year should make extra sure they aren't signed up to work during their retreat weekend, or during the ceremony itself. Please attend your child's Communion: track will still be here next year.

* Calling All Experts

If you're brand new to track this year, you can skip this section. It's OK: you'll get to read it next year.

Our team numbers are down, and it shows in the volunteer signups. We're especially lacking in what I consider the "expert" meet jobs: head high jump, head shot put, head timer, finish line coordinator, head clerk, and starter. I always assume that we're going to act as the host team for a meet given our size and our history of being good at it. We really need these jobs to be filled. If you have worked in one of the areas before -- high jump, for example -- then you should be familiar with how it works.

Katy Simpson and I have a list of all the families, and the number of years of experience that you each have with the team, and we're fully prepared to do battlefield promotions as necessary to ensure that we have key jobs filled at meets. Some of the jobs may be filled by other parishes at a meet, but if we're hosting, then it's up to us to assign those as well.

I've heard that our former starter and former head timer are willing to come to the mini-meet to train people in the intricacies of these jobs, and I will do the same for the head clerk position (my former haunt.) That's what the mini-meet is for, after all: parent education. Better to learn at that meet than later in the season.

If you're able to take on a little extra responsibility in your volunteer shifts, please let Katy and I know and we'll adjust accordingly. Remember: this is not the Olympics, and these are all do-able jobs, even more so if you've been around for a season or two. When in doubt, just blame the meet director (yours truly.)

* Practices

The College Park track team has asked that we gather in the middle of the stands near the 50-yard line, as our enthusiastic pre-practice mob is blocking their athletes' access to water bottles and gear. Naturally, we're happy to oblige, so as you walk your athletes to the track -- you are doing this, right? -- have them keep going until they reach the middle of the stands.

Also, make sure that they are walking around the outside fence, and not cutting across the track area. I'm sure that I imagined seeing a few of our kids almost get mowed down by high school hurdlers at Thursday's practice.

Practice goes until 6:00pm this week as we enjoy more daylight. Pickups as usual at the track, and stragglers can be found waiting with a coach and myself at the gate in the large parking lot, not the loop in front of the school. Your promptness at pick-up is appreciated.

Always be sure to check the main page of the site or our Twitter feed (@ctktrack) to see if there is a weather-related cancellation.

* Field Clinics

Our first field-event clinic was on the 18th, and it was very well-attended. I'm especially grateful to the coaches and parents for coming out and running the various practice stations, even as the College Park track team raked, weeded, and swept up in our midst. The kids had a good time, and more importantly, went home looking tired and well-exercised.

Our second field event practice is in one week, Sunday the 26th from 1:30-3:30pm. All athletes on the team are welcome to come out and practice, even if you came to the first clinic. Hopefully there will be no schedule excitement this time.

* Photographers

This year we have two team photographers: David Grube and Paul Nuti. David and Paul will be down on the field and at the track doing their best to capture the athletes in action, as well as all the in-between times at the meet. They'll be choosing a photo-hosting site that will limit access based on your email address.

We do not have team photos, given the logistical nightmare of trying to organize 180+ athletes, and the unlikelihood that you'll be able to pick out your child from a sea of identical t-shirts.

* Lost & Found

The team lost and found collection is overflowing. Did your athlete come home without a sweatshirt? A water bottle? Pants? Please check the Lost & Found page to see if I have them. I bring a large purple shopping bag to practice for you to rummage through:

* Saturday June 2: Save the Date

The season may have just begun, but we're already planning the team picnic. Due to ongoing construction at our usual site, this year we're going to hold it at Waterfront Park in Martinez. There will be more details as the season winds down. This is a family picnic and many special athlete awards are passed out. We also recognize and reward those super-helpful families who worked extra shifts throughout the season with a prize drawing. That's right: we're not above bribery to get those jobs done.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Field Event Clinic is ON (but earlier)

After much juggling of schedules, I've managed to keep Saturday's field clinic going, albeit at an earlier time. The new time is 10:30-12:30 on Saturday the 18th. We'll be setting up at 10, and we must be off the field area by about 12:45 so the field can be prepped for a College Park girls' championship soccer game. The College Park track team is also scheduled to prepare the track area on Saturday for their season.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

* Athletes should treat this as a regular practice: bring a water bottle, dress in layers, use the bathroom at home. At this practice, parents are welcome to help. This is especially useful if you have signed up for a field job at a meet and don't have any idea what to do, or need a refresher on how to measure for an event.

* We always want to be good citizens, and if that means we can't practice something because it's being painted or raked or cleaned, then we will manage. We're fortunate to have access to such a nice facility for our practices, and I want to stay on good terms with College Park. Many former CYO athletes are on the CP teams and remember our program fondly. Let's keep it that way.

* Safety is very, very important. If all goes well, we will be able to spend at least some time with all four of our field events (softball throw, shot put, high jump, long jump.) Under no circumstances is an athlete to use any equipment without supervision from an adult associated with our team, and absolutely no using any of the high-school exclusive equipment. This includes trying to jump the hurdles and playing in the pole vault area, no matter how cool they are. Anyone acting unsafely will be asked sit in the stands until practice is over.

In addition, please take care crossing the field area (softballs in the air!) and do not play in the  long jump pits. The park has a nice big sandbox for that sort of thing.

* Only fifth graders and older may try shot put and high jump. Everyone may try softball throw and long jump. Athletes: please try everything that you're allowed to try! And please don't come just to hang out and goof off. If you want to do some conditioning laps, that's fine, too. We're holding this for your benefit, so make the most of it.

Thanks for your patience everyone, and we'll see you on Saturday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Field event clinic: up in the air

UPDATE: We may have the field on Saturday the 18th after all, but in the morning, not the afternoon. Don't make plans yet! Updates to follow.

Hi everyone,

Due to a very successful soccer season, the College Park girls' soccer team is hosting a championship game this Saturday at 2pm, right in the middle of our scheduled field event clinic. Obviously we want to be good citizens and not get in the way, so we take a deep breath, smile, and make do. This is the Zen of track.

I'm exchanging emails with all the other people who have field reservations this Saturday to see if we can work something in, or if we can possibly hold the clinic on Monday instead, since most (all?) of our athletes have the day off from school, and might need a little activity by then. This will impact some people who had made plans to attend, and if you've already told me you would help out, don't worry -- we'll figure something out.

I hope to not have to cancel this event, but please check email and the main page of the team web site for updates in that little magic Twitter box. I'll let you all know as soon as I find out something definitive. So: no clinic Saturday at 1:30pm, but maybe still a clinic at some point this weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Track reminders: Field clinic and more

Hi families, just a couple of quick reminders:

* New to the team?

All the past newsletters are available online:

The Parent Info page is a good place to start if you're just joining up

* Field clinic on Saturday from 1:30-3:30pm

We're holding a special practice on Saturday at College Park to practice field events. We're scheduled to have the whole track and field to ourselves.

We could use some parental help at this one: chasing down softballs, raking long-jump pits between jumpers, returning shots and resetting the high-jump bar. If you're working one of these events at a meet, you can consider this practice for you, too (but sorry: it doesn't count against your volunteer time.) If you're able to help, send me an email at and let me know. We'll be setting up around 1pm.

* Special helpers

We could still use another person or two to work the first-aid station at meets. We're also still looking for help with the 4th-5th grade boys at practice.

* Forms

Remember that to be fully enrolled, I must have the following on file for every athlete -- even returning athletes:

- CYO permission/health release form
- CYO concussion information sheet
- A copy of the athlete's birth certificate (photocopy is fine)

All forms are on the team site:

You can always hand me paperwork at practice, and I try to send around mail about missing forms. I hang on to the birth certificates until the athletes age out of the program, and then shred the copies.

Thanks everyone, and I'll see you at practice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Track News for Feb 12, 2012

Hello again, track families, here's your weekly team news update.

* Parent Meeting

Thanks to everyone who came out to our meeting last week and who tolerated my froggy voice. If you missed the meeting, or just want to relive the joy, you can read through the "Parent Info" page on the site. If there's a question I haven't answered, let me know and I'll write it in.

* Practice

Please remind your athletes and other affiliated children not to play on the hillsides on the way to and from practice. The cross-country team signups are in August if they enjoy that sort of thing. Let's keep the College Park staff happy to let us use their space.

Practices end at 5:50 starting this week, as we make the most of the available daylight. Always check the team schedule page for times and a quick overview of upcoming workouts:

Remember that we're also having a special practice this Saturday the 18th to work on field events: all ages may compete in the softball throw and long jump, and athletes in grade 5 and above may also compete in high jump and shot put. The practice time is from 1:30-3:30. As an added incentive, I will bring our small collection of  "loaner spikes" to the practice, if any parents want to rummage through them, or if returning families have old pairs in usable condition that they'd like out of the house.

* Lost and Found

We have a variety of fresh-picked clothing and accessories that were left behind at practice on Thursday. Check the web site for this week's harvest. I'll bring a large shopping bag to practice if you want to go through it and see if anything looks familiar. Items left unclaimed by the end of the season will make their final appearance at the team picnic in June, and then the remainder will go to Goodwill.

* Uniforms

The order for team t-shirts and sweatshirts is ready to go to the printer. We hope to have them before the mini-meet.

All athletes must wear a team t-shirt to participate in a meet. Used shirts from last year, or from a sibling or friend are fine, as long as they are for the correct parish.

Please review the uniform list online, and let me know of any corrections or additions right away:

There's still time to order a sweatshirt if you didn't already. Just let me know and I'll put you down.

When they arrive, our super-friendly shirt-sorters will make them available at practice. If you find that the size you ordered no longer fits your athlete, please let me know at once. If the uniform is unused, we can arrange an exchange. 

* Signups and Drops

Yes, we're still taking late signups. Yes, we're also accepting drops. See me either way so we can sort out the paperwork, fees or refunds, and volunteer details. February 29 is the last day to join the team or drop with a refund.

* Volunteer Shifts

I've added a new "Volunteers" link to the web site where you can check the shift assignments for each of the meets. I copied these from the large signup sheets, and have undoubtedly butchered some of the names, so please look them over and send corrections to me or Katy Simpson, our veteran volunteer coordinator.

If you signed up late and somehow missed your chance to get added to these sheets, don't worry! We have openings for you. This season, we're asking families to sign up for:
  • One shift at the "mini-meet" on March 10
  • A total of five shifts in the other regular-season meets (Meet #1 through the Qualifying meet)
Remember that you may work two shifts at one meet to fulfill your responsibilities, or rope in another adult to cover multiple shifts. Without family help, we can't hold meets. Expect an email from me or the volunteer coordinator if you haven't signed up for meet jobs.

* Team Jobs

There are still a few special "team jobs" available for your consideration. Working these jobs fulfills your volunteer commitment. If you've already signed up for meet jobs, we will transfer you off the sheets.
  • First Aid: At the meets where our team acts as the host, we provide someone working at the first aid tent down near the finish line. The majority of cases are cuts and scrapes and maybe a blister. Sometimes you'll be comforting an athlete with an ice pack or just giving them a cool, shady spot to sit and drink some water and stretch out a cramp. If you've got basic first-aid skills and can commit to working a couple of meets, please let me know. Medical professionals, we're especially looking at you.
  • 4th-5th Grade Boys Assistant: We're a little short-staffed with this group. We need another adult or two who can commit to practices and help manage this very energetic and enthusiastic bunch. Moms and dads are equally welcome to help out. You'll need to complete the diocese form and attend the certification meeting as spelled out on the "Coaches" page on our team site.
  • Picnic Boss/Queen/King: We have our team potluck picnic and awards ceremony scheduled for early June, and I need someone to handle it. The main job is to do almost nothing for a couple of months, and then make sure that we have supplies at the site: tablecloths, ice, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, and sodas. This year, we have the added wrinkle of our usual location at Pleasant Hill Park being taken over by construction, so we may have to move. I've got two others picked out, and need our boss/queen/king to do the leg work in making reservations. The team covers all costs for permits and picnic supplies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Track News for Feb 5, 2012

Hello again everyone,

We kicked off our season in style with our first practice on Thursday. If you signed up late, please make sure to get in touch with me about signing up for volunteer shifts. We'll be publishing the signup schedules soon. We need about 100 volunteers to run each track meet, and I can honestly say that working a shift or two will make your day go faster. It's a lot of fun, too.

Experienced families: there are a lot of gaps in our signups around the key jobs like head clerk, head high jump, head shot put, starter, and finish line coordinator. You know how important these jobs are, and if we don't get volunteers, I have authorized our volunteer coordinator to give you a battle promotion and move you upwards.

Please review the "meet jobs" page on the web site to reacquaint yourself with the fundamentals:

Remember that in track, "experienced" means "have been to a couple of meets." You can do this!


Practice always starts at 5:00pm at College Park High School track. Initially, we end at 5:45pm because of darkness, but we extend that over the season as the days get longer and the athletes get stronger. Always check the schedule page on the team web site to see the end times for practice.

If you happen to show up early, feel free to come down and wait in the stands. As you may have noticed on Thursday, we are sharing the field with other groups: the high school soccer teams are finishing their season now, and the high school track team will be starting up soon. Make sure you're going around the outside of the fence to get to practice: it's safer for everyone.

You may have also noticed that it gets cold down at the track. Wear layers and long pants! You can always peel off a pair of sweats if you're wearing shorts underneath, but if you're only wearing shorts, you'll freeze. Hydrate before and after practice, and lightly during practice.


The forecast says we might get rain on Tuesday: if it's coming down, I will cancel practice by posting a note to the team Twitter feed by 4:00pm. Check @ctktrack from your nearest electronic gadget. Updates magically appear on the front page of the team web site as well.


Remember to wear good running shoes to practice -- not spikes, cross-trainers, basketball or skate shoes. This is the most expensive piece of equipment you need, but they are very important. See the last newsletter for discounts from local shoe stores. You don't need spikes at practice; leave them at home.


We love your kids, and we're sure that you love them, too. Please make sure to come to pick-ups on time to retrieve your loved ones, otherwise another coach and I have to stay until the bitter end. Expect to find your kids in the large parking lot, typically at the gate at the top of the stairs leading down to the baseball field.

Parent Meeting

All parents -- especially new ones -- are encouraged to attend, Monday, February 6 starting at 6:45pm in the Christ the King Parish Hall (next to the main parking lot.) I'll have all the signup paraphernalia with me if you need to complete anything or if you have an athlete you want to add to the program. We'll be done by 8:00pm. Bring your trickiest questions.

Shirts and Sweatshirts

I'm going to put together an order for shirts and sweats after I handle any paperwork from the parent meeting. We'll send the order off to the printer, and then to our superb shirt-disbursement-persons. Expect to see them at practices by early March. Shirts are only required to be worn at meets. If you are having second thoughts about sizes, let me know right away. We have a couple extra shirts from CTK and Saint Catherine around, but the St. Stephen order is usually exact without any spares.

Looking at my extra shirt collection, the youth sizes are:

YS: 6-8
YM: 10-12
YL: 14-16


I took a handful of late signups at the track on Thursday, and we'll do it again at the parent meeting. I'll take signups through February 29. You can add siblings as long as they are within the age range (grade 2-8) without adding additional volunteer time.

If your child decides that track simply isn't for them after a few practices, you may drop from the team. Please make sure you contact me if you're planning on dropping so I can process your refund. Don't just vanish! I'll do full refunds through February. If you drop before we pass out the shirts/sweats, you'll get a full refund and I'll shred your deposit check. If you drop after the shirts are handed out, I'll deduct their costs from your total and shred your deposit.