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.