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.