Tuesday, August 13, 2013

CYO cross country season

Our CYO cross-country program is starting up. Coaches Matt and Christi have a practice schedule worked out, and if you were in the program last year, chances are you've already received that message. If you missed it, I've posted the pertinent details on our team web site:
If you're a returning family, this should all be very familiar to you. If you're new this season, welcome to CYO! I hope you have a good time, and that we'll see you again for track & field in January.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Awards and summertime

I promise this is your last update for a while...

I've notified all the families with leftover ribbons and awards in my possession: if you think you're missing something and I didn't send you a note, please let me know.

We do have one APB: someone offered to take Jakob Stanton's awards to him at the picnic... and I don't remember who that was. If it was you, please get in touch!

I hope everyone has a good summer. If you're in Pleasant Hill for the 4th of July, expect to see some familiar faces running the 5K (though not me: I'm a Professional Spectator.) Cross country signups should be in August, and we'll start gearing up for track around January 2014.

Thanks again for all the kind words, for the volunteer hours, and for helping keep CYO fun for all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Season is Complete!

That's it everyone -- our 2013 season is done. Thanks to all who braved the heat and juggled busy schedules to come out to the park on Saturday.

I still have a number of awards which I'd like to get out of my living room and into the hands of the athletes. There's a handful of medals, plus ribbons from the season, and probably some ribbons from the championship meets, too.

I'll be sorting everything out into bundles, and then will have them available on my front porch for pickup for the next few weeks. If you find yourself in the Pleasant Hill area, I live close to College Park high and Sunvalley mall, and can give you driving directions in an email.

A full list of the athlete awards is now on our web site:


I'll send one last message around when the awards are ready for collection. If you're able to pick up for a teammate, I'm sure they'd be grateful.

Thank again for a great (and rain-free) season everyone. You'll hear from me again around late summer as cross-country season approaches, and I hope we'll see you again next January at signups.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Reminder: team picnic and awards Saturday June 1, Pleasant Hill Park @ 11:30

Hi all -- a last-minute reminder to come on out to Pleasant Hill park at Gregory & Cleaveland tomorrow for our end-of-season potluck picnic and awards.

This is very casual and fun for all. We'll reunite your athletes with leftover or unclaimed ribbons, marvel at the accumulated lost & found pile, and thank coaches and families for all their volunteer service, too.

If you're not able to make it, I'll post the full awards list on the team site afterward. If your athlete -- or you! -- won something, we'll arrange a pickup after that. If you are present and are able to pass an award on to an absent teammate, I'm happy to delegate the task.

Hope we'll see you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Track reminder: picnic this Saturday, June 1 at 11:30

Hello everyone, I hope you've been enjoying your down-time from track. I know I have!

Our final event of the season is the annual potluck picnic and awards ceremony this Saturday, June 1 at Pleasant Hill Park at the corner of Gregory Lane and Cleaveland Road.

We're at picnic area #3, next to the new teen center and right off the main parking lot.


We'll be setting up at about 11:00, and will try to have the grills hot and ready for cooking around 11:30-12:00. The team will provide cold drinks of the sodas-and-water variety. You should bring something for your family to eat, as well as a dish to share. Don't leave your utensils and bowls behind! I really don't want them.

At 1:00, athletes will break into groups with their coaches for parting words of wisdom and to collect any leftover ribbons that we have from the season. Around 1:30 we'll start presenting awards from the team.

We'll also have the prize drawing for the extra helpful families who exceeded the volunteer requirements. I have already emailed the families who forfeit their deposit this season, and have cashed their checks. If you did not hear from me, you may credit your deposit back into your account with my thanks.

Finally, the mighty Lost & Found collection will be out on the park lawn for your rummaging pleasure. Who knows? We might even have things you didn't know you were missing. Everything left unclaimed at the end of the picnic goes to Goodwill, another fine team tradition.

Thanks again for a great season, and I hope to see you on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Diocese meet results are up

The results from the Diocese meet just came in, and I've got them linked from the front page of our team site:


I've found at least one typo so far, and it looks like one of the events is under review at the moment. I'll work on massaging these to get them posted on Athletic.net for your data-crunching pleasure.

Congratulations to all competitors! Be sure to come to the picnic so we can mildly embarrass you by applauding your efforts.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Track news for the week of May 12

  • Diocese meet complete

Another successful CYO season is on the books. Congratulations to the athletes who made it all the way to competition on Friday or Saturday. Just getting that far is a big accomplishment. If you happened to place well in your event, so much the better. No matter what, I hope you'll remember the time spent with your friends more than your finish in an event.

I hear that the races on Friday went very well, and Saturday's events were exciting, despite the heat and being buzzed by the Goodyear blimp (no, really.) It's the best of the best at Diocese, and every mark is earned with a lot of effort. I'm looking forward to checking for personal bests.

I should have all the unclaimed awards from Saturday's field events, and we'll try to reunite them with the athletes at the picnic.

Results will come in whenever the results come in, and I'll post them on the web site as soon as they do. Keep your eye on the web site front page or on Twitter.

  • Team picnic, Saturday June 1, 11:30 at Pleasant Hill Park

The really, truly final team activity this season is our annual potluck picnic and awards ceremony. We'd love to have your athletes and your whole family there, no matter how your season worked out. Bring something to share and something to grill for yourself. The team provides drinks and we will have the charcoal grills going.

We're back at Pleasant Hill park on Gregory Lane, picnic area #3, next to the new teen center:


Setup is around 11am if you want to help. Athletes will break into groups around 1:00pm and we'll start the awards around 1:30.
  • Other end-of-season business

Volunteer deposits

Families who worked less than the minimum number of jobs this season should expect an email soon alerting you about your deposit check. We asked for five shifts plus the mini-meet at signups, though the actual required number worked out a bit lower. I never know the exact figure until the season is complete. Everyone else's checks will go into a large industrial shredder and turned into a fine, colorful confetti.

Coach gifts

A few people have asked about thank-you gifts for the coaches. You're welcome to contribute to the common fund if you like. The easiest thing to do is pay me at the picnic: checks should be made out to "CTK CYO Track" and I'll add it into the team account. This is not mandatory.


Thanks to the steady hand and fast reflexes of Paul Nuti, photos from this season are available on Shutterfly.com. All the email addresses that this newsletter goes to should have access to our team's albums:


You might need to register fully on the site for access. It's free, and you're under no obligation to purchase anything. Due to the logistics of having a large team, we don't do any official photo day, so we don't make you buy a fridge magnet just to get a 5x7 for the family room.

If you have an email address you'd like us to add, let me know and we'll get it configured.
  • Other upcoming events

CTK Parish Festival, May 17-19 (this coming weekend)

Fun, food, games, prizes, and the most holy of all sacraments: BINGO. Christ the King throws a big festival every year, with carnival games, carnival food, and a carnival atmosphere. All are welcome, regardless of affiliation. You'll see a lot of familiar faces there.

Parking is tight, so arrive early if you can, or find street parking that doesn't block a driveway.

Festival times are: Friday May 17, 6-10pm; Saturday May 18, 2-10pm; Sunday May 19, 10am-2pm

De La Salle summer track & field camp, June 10-13

Last time I looked, there were still a few openings for the day camp at De La Salle high school in Concord from June 10-13. It's available to next year's 4th-9th graders.


In years past, the kids have gotten to try some events that we don't have in CYO like pole vault and discus and (very low) hurdles. Cool!

Pleasant Hill Firecracker 5K Fun Run, July 4th

Have any plans for July 4th? Come on down to the 5K fun run held first thing in the morning. The course is a three lap walk/run around the downtown area. You'll see more than a few CYO athletes and coaches out that day.


Proceeds raised go to help local schools, and the parade starts right after the race concludes.
  • CYO cross country

CYO has a cross-country program starting in August, and runs through early autumn. I'll mention this again at the picnic, and send email as the season approaches.

If your athletes enjoy distance running, and would running with a mixed group in a low-key setting, consider joining cross-country this fall. Practices are at a local park, and meets are on Friday evenings at parks around the East Bay.

  • Next season
Track and field has lower visibility than other springtime sports, so good word-of-mouth can go a long way. Feel free to talk up the program to friends and classmates and direct them towards the web site or send me an email. I'll be in coordinator-withdrawal for a while and need to get my fix.


We'll get a preview of the 2014 schedule soon, but expect more of the same: signups in late January, practices start in February, meets start in March, with the Diocese meet around Mother's Day.

Team placement depends on parish school or RE program, or the athlete's home address.

I'm on the lookout for volunteers for next year, too, as we're losing many of our behind-the-scenes people as their kids go to high school. Returning families with complicated schedules get first priority for jobs like volunteer reminders, uniform organizing and distribution, ribbon assembly and sorting, and personal best ribbons.

Expect overlong emails as we get closer to signups for next season.
  • Thank you!
I'll end on a note of gratitude:

Thank you to all the volunteers who gave their time to help the meets: we simply could not hold them without all 150+ jobs filled each weekend.

Thank you to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers who ensured we had uniforms and ribbons and who reminded everybody else where and when to show up.

Thank you to the coaches who put in so much work and time to guide each of the kids on our team to reach their own personal bests.

Thank you to the athletes, for trying hard, running fast, jumping far, and throwing well. You're the reason the coaches and I do all this, and we've had a lot of fun working with you this season. I hope you'll take away some good memories and will come back to us or join your high school track program next spring.

That's it, everyone -- see you at the picnic!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Diocese meet reminders

Just a few of quick reminders for the final meet this weekend:
  • 800m and 1600m, Friday evening, May 10
Both distance events are Friday evening at James Logan High School in Union City. According to the meet schedule, the 1600m will run first at 6:30, followed by the 800m. The schedule is on page 2 of this document:


Fourth place is considered "alternate" at this meet, and there's never a guarantee that alternates will be placed in a race.

I won't be at these races, but a couple of our coaches should be present.
  • All other events, Saturday, May 11
All other events are held on Saturday at Granada High in Livermore, just like Sectionals were last week.

Athletes do not need stickers at this meet. Please find me or a coach when you arrive so we know you're present. Once the events begin, I'll be camped out next to the away-side stands in a blue tent, near the light pole. Coaches will likely be peppered among the stands, near our team banner.

Volunteers: I'll be at the snack shack around 8:00am and 11:30am to sign you in if you're working for the team. If your athlete is flying solo, let us know so we can help them listen for their event and get them to the right place.

The order of events is different yet again -- pay attention to the grade order:


Like Sectionals, parents may not go into "working" areas of the meet unless they are signed-in volunteers. In the interest of fairness, coaches and coordinators aren't allowed to work at all.

You may escort your athlete over to the clerk area to sign in, but you may not pass through the gate. Don't risk a disqualification, please.
  • Parade at 8:30am on Saturday
All athletes on the team are welcome to walk with us in the parade, regardless of qualifying status. The more the merrier! The parade usually sets up in the softball field behind the away stands and then flows on to the track, past the home stands like a very slow 200m event. Before we get to the finish line, we'll turn onto the infield for the opening ceremonies.
  • Early is the word!
You can't go wrong if you plan to arrive early. There will be traffic to get to Union City, and Granada is always full until at least the 50m/100m events.

If you're a real early bird on Saturday, we're setting up at 6:30am, and would gladly appreciate help setting up the events for the day. We need lifters and luggers and people handy with pop-up tents. You'll get credit for the team if you catch me at setup and sign in -- yes, I'll be there, nice and early!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Track news for the week of May 5

  • Sectional meet complete
Those of you with qualifying athletes got to experience either the mellow low-key Friday night 1600m, or the sun-drenched events on Saturday. Some lucky families got to do both, and some really lucky families got to work as well. We'll see who gets to be equally lucky later in the week.

The Sectional meet is like the greatest hits of the practice season: all the teams you remember from March and April, gathered together again in one, danceable package.

But wait, there's more!
  • Diocese Championships May 10 and 11
Remember all those really fast kids you saw this weekend? Remember all those amazing jumpers and throwers? You'll get to see them again at the very last meet of the year, the diocese-wide championship. This past week was just the section one teams -- that's our section.

Coming up this week, the top athletes from sections one, two, and three all get together to compete. You'll see parishes that you've probably never heard of before, from all over the East Bay region.
  • 800m and 1600m events,  Friday May 10 with 6:30pm start, James Logan High
If your athlete placed in one of these events, they will run again on Friday night at James Logan High School in Union City. The first 1600m starts at 6:30pm sharp. Please allow for traffic if you're going.

If your athlete placed in both the 800m and the 1600m, he or she needs to choose one of these events to compete in before Friday. They may have already been asked at Saturday's finish if the league was prepared. Expect a call or email if they weren't.
  • All other events, Saturday May 11 with 8:30am parade, Granada High
On Saturday, we have the remainder of the events back at Granada High in Livermore. Starting at 8:30am, there's a parade of teams from all three sections. All athletes on the team may be in the parade regardless of qualifying status.

Since we're in section one and the first team alphabetically, we lead the parade on to the track.  Come get some great pictures and video for grandma. I know it's a drive, but if you're willing, we're glad to have you there.

We especially want eighth graders so they can lead our team around the track one last time before they go off to high school. Awwww. I'm getting a little misty just thinking about it.

After the parade and the obligatory speech-making midfield, the meet will begin in earnest with the 4x100m relays. The meet schedule is on our site:


Like the Sectional meet, some events go out of order from what we're used to. Please allow for that when making arrival plans. By the end of the day at Sectionals, we were almost an hour ahead of the published times. Be early, be flexible, and listen for the calls!

There will be an admission fee again on Saturday, and there are usually souvenir t-shirts available for sale just as you come in to the stadium, typically at a table near the main stands. These sell out fast. Seating and parking fill up incredibly fast at this meet, too.

The layout at Granada is the same as at Sectionals:


Sections two and three compete in an fifth field event event called the "tetherball toss," which is just exactly like what it sounds like. It's a kinder, gentler hammer throw. Section one does not practice this event, so we don't put any athletes forth to compete.

We do, however, have the Medley Relay. For the first time ever (?) it's on the program, albeit with the equivalent of the Barry Bonds asterisk. "Diablo Valley Medley Relay" is the Sprint Medley that you know and love.
  • Ribbons and awards
I have about 200 ribbons from the qualifying meet on the 27th, and I just sent out the personal best list on Saturday evening. The Sectional awards should show up at my house in the next day or two.

In short, there's a ton of ribbons to hand out, with more to follow. Please plan to send your athlete to the final practices and come to the picnic if only to relieve me of the burden of addressing and mailing eight gazillion envelopes over the summer.

Awards at the Diocese meet are prepared and handed out at the track. If your athlete places in their event, you can stick around to gather the award. At the end of the day, one of the coaches or I will get the remaining ones and bring them to the picnic.
  • Final practices this week
We're down to the last two, this Tuesday and Thursday, College Park Track, 5-6:30pm. Everybody on the team is welcome to come to practice. Running's more fun with a buddy, after all. I hope we'll see you there.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

More about the sectional meet

  • Final Qualifying results are up
They're linked from our team's "Schedule" page:


You can also try these links:

* Full meet results
* Full qualifiers list

I'm going to make a list of our team's qualifiers and get it online shortly. Thank you for your patience!
  • 1600m this Friday night: first call at 5:45 pm
The Sectional is done in two parts for time reasons. The mile is held this Friday at DVC. If you have a runner in the mile, please arrive in time to get them warmed up and signed in.

The running order is different than our usual -- we'll run girls 3-5, then boys 3-5, then girls 6-8. then finally boys 6-8. The event schedule for the weekend is on our web site's "Schedule" page and from the league site:


Athletes will sign in at the field. If your athlete wears track shoes (spikes) remember that they must be 1/4" pyramid style or 1/8" pyramids. No other spike designs are permitted. There's a photo of the allowed spikes on the last page of the diocese meet program if you're unsure:


There's a shoe check at both events, and athletes must wear shoes to compete.
  • All other events this Saturday: first call at 8:10am
The remaining events will start at 8:30am on Saturday at Granada High in Livermore. First call for the young girls' 4x100m relay is 8:10, and they mean it. DO NOT BE LATE.

There is a small admission fee for Saturday's meet, payable at the gate. Show up with exact change to make the volunteers' lives easier. There will be a line, and it will be slow.

Current CYO athletes - FREE
Current CYO coaches with cards - FREE
Adults & High School students - $3.00
Children age 6 thru 12 - $2.00

Seniors - FREE

Programs should be available at the gate for $1. You can also download the order of events page from our web site. The program will have pages of records and other trivia, but they'll sell out fast.

CTK typically hangs out on the away-side bleachers where the crowds are thinner and tensions are lower, but you're welcome to sit where you like in the stands. Athletes need to have stickers at this meet, so they should look for their coaches to check in. Relay athletes definitely need to find their coaches so we know that they are present.

The annual Section 1 Coaches Relay will be held immediately after the Sprint Medley. Athletes, come cheer on your coaches to glory and pulled hamstrings!
  • Meet Etiquette
The league wants us to remind everyone of some general meet etiquette tips:

- Umbrellas and pop-up tents are allowed in the back (top) row of the stands only, to ensure a clear view of the track for everyone. You'll be asked to take down anything that obstructs the view.

- No setting up chairs, tents, blankets or other obstructions between the finish line and the gate where the athletes enter/exit the field (end zone near long jump.)

- No explicatives at the meet. Do not threaten or berate meet officials, parents, coaches, athletes... anyone, really. You'll get evicted from the meet and your athlete will be disqualified.

- No coming on to the track or field area, unless you are a signed-in volunteer working a job. Volunteers are specially identified at these meets. The same eviction/disqualification penalty applies here, too.
  • Working at Sectionals 
I've sent a friendly, pleading email to families who look like they will be at the meet a while. I'll put out a call for volunteers if we need any last-second help.
  • Meet survival tips at Granada High
Like most tracks, Granada is very exposed without much shade. Remember to take care of yourselves as well as your athletes. Pack plenty of water and sun protection. Label every article of clothing and water bottle that you hope to ever see again. If you're working a job, wear a hat, good walking shoes, and have water that you can carry easily. Bring some binoculars for easier spotting if your athlete has a field event.

Every track is laid out a little differently: at Granada, all field events will run in parallel: boys and girls compete at the same time. Athletes are staged for their races in an very out-of-the way place.

Here's a blimp's-eye view:


Don't miss the a second shot put area tucked way up by the tennis courts. Last year, this was the girls' shot ring. High jump will have two sets of equipment in the end zone near the gate to the track. Softball and long jump will run in parallel like we did during our meets. Long jump is along the north end of the field, just like College Park.

If you park in the main lot, you'll come to the stadium through the main gate/spike check station. Past the gate, you'll find yourself at the south end of the main stands. To your right is the snack shack and a large concrete water fountain. Volunteer sign-in will be next to the snack shack. Look for me to get signed in.

  • During the meet

When athletes sign in for a race, they'll do it in the area marked "Clerks" on the diagram. Access is through a gate near the snack shack. Only athletes, clerks, and shepherds may be in this area -- no parents, coaches, or coordinators allowed. Once inside, athletes may not leave until they run their race, or are dismissed if they are alternates who didn't get moved into a lane. Athletes need to get water and use the bathroom before their race is called.

Running events happen as usual: athletes will be brought out onto the field by shepherds only. You may hug/praise/console them after their race is over, once they have left the field.

Be especially careful not to crowd along the track during the 50m and 100m races, tempting though it may be. We've had a whole season to practice, and your kids know what to do. ("Run fast!")

Field event check-in is at the event itself, when the athlete's grade is called. Athletes won't be accepted early, and will compete in the order assigned. If they miss their calls, they're out of luck -- field events close when the last athlete in the grade has completed their jumps or throws.

Just like practice meets, athletes are allowed to leave a field event to run a race. They must notify the volunteer working the event, and return right after their race completes.

The best thing you can do for your athletes is find someplace where you can hear the announcements, and nudge them when it's time for their event. I'm sure they'll do fine. Keep them hydrated: offer light, healthy snacks, find shade and wear sunscreen.

Oh, and have fun, too!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Preliminary qualifiers list is online

I'm still waiting on the official list from the league, but I do have enough information to post a preliminary version for our team. This is built from the initial results, with my notes from the seeding meeting incorporated.


This is also linked from the "Schedule" page on our web site.

  • Are these all the meet results?

No -- just the top finishers in the events from our team. The full and final results are on their way. The delay is driving me crazy, too.

I'm 99.44% sure that this is an accurate list of qualifiers from our team, subject to the standard disclaimers about how CYO is all-volunteer, supposed to be fun, and not the Olympics.

  • What does "Alt 1", "Alt 2" and "Alt 3" mean?

This indicates the first, second, and third alternate in an event. If one of the scheduled athletes or relay teams is not able to make the event, we will fill their lane with the first alternate (Alt 1). If there are two openings, then first and second alternates will be placed, and so on.

Assignment of first, second, or third alternate is done by a complex algorithm that juggles openings among the three meets that were held on Saturday. It's not a reflection of your athlete's performance, their character, their families, or coaches. A fourth-place finisher at our meet may still be the third alternate for the Sectionals.

Alternates are not guaranteed to compete.

At the seeding meeting, we moved some alternates up into regular competition already. Some of our relay teams benefited from this move.

Per league rules, athletes who competed in more than three individual events got cut from their last event, which also affected the list of qualifiers.

Athletes may drop from an event over the course of the week for a variety of reasons. If we know about this in advance, an alternate may find themselves slotted in to a race before Saturday. Keep checking when we get the full results up. Otherwise, alternates will get placed in a race (or not) at the meet.

  • Wait! I still have a million questions!

And I have a novel-length newsletter waiting in the wings to answer them. The immediate things to think about are:

* If your athlete qualified in the 1600m, I'll see you Friday evening at DVC

* If they are in another event, I'll see you early Saturday at Granada High in Livermore

* Relay team members should alert your coach at once if you can't make it on Saturday

The meet schedule is linked from the team site if you want to start planning your weekend:


Coaches contacts are available through the web site:


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Track news for the week of April 28

  • Qualifying meet complete

That's it, everyone!  The Qualifying meet was the end of our regular meet schedule, and the start of the championships. I think things went amazingly smoothly. We had a few nervous stomachs, and one shoulder injury that I'm going to follow up on. Thanks to all the parents who jumped in to calm the nerves of the athletes. It's somebody's kid out there, and they needed -- and received -- comfort and aid.

However, let's not talk about how a 4th grade girl humiliated me during the 4x400 relay, OK?

  • Thank you!

I know many of you are done with track after this past Saturday, so I want to extend a big thank you from me and from the coaches for giving us the chance to work with your children this season. Thank you for hauling them to practice and getting them to meets. Thank you for giving up your Saturdays to volunteer and for sticking around for extra shifts. Thank you for supporting Ygnacio Valley High, and thank you for putting up with these long newsletters! CYO track simply could not happen without your participation.

  • Volunteers for the season

Now that the regular season is complete, I'm adding up the family volunteer time, and comparing the shifts worked to the number of shifts our team was responsible for this season. If your family fell short, I'll be sending an email to you about cashing the deposit check you left with the team at signups.

  • Practice

Practice is open to everyone, no matter what. The coaches get lonely after the qualifying meet, so come on out to practice! Don't make us finish the Starbursts by ourselves.

Lacrosse will bump us to the grassy field yet again on Tuesday the 30th, and then we should be back on the track on Thursday the 2nd.

  • Team Picnic, Saturday June 1 at Pleasant Hill Park, 11:30-3:30ish

Our team picnic and awards ceremony at Pleasant Hill Park is Saturday, June 1. The whole family is
welcome to attend. It's potluck style, so bring something for yourself to cook and something to share. The team will provide sodas and water and we'll have the charcoal grills warmed up and ready to go.

This is a chance for the coaches to see the athletes one last time before summer and to pass out unclaimed ribbons. We'll recognize our helpful parents, thank the coaches, and hand out special team awards to some of the athletes. The plentiful lost & found collection will be on display for your rummaging pleasure, too. It's fun for all!


No matter how your season worked out, bring the family to the picnic if you can.

  • Did my athlete qualify?

The results from Saturday's meet are reviewed very carefully. I'm attending a meeting on Monday that determines the entrants for the Sectional meet. Once all the team coordinators have gone through the results, we'll publish them online. I know it's hard to wait for these results since they may impact your plans for the next week or two.

There will be fewer ribbons from the qualifying meet since we place overall in the events. Personal bests will be awarded as usual once I have time to scrub through all the results.

Qualifiers for the 1600m event will run on Friday evening at DVC, and all other events will be held on Saturday at Granada High School in Livermore. If your athlete did well and you're going to miss the Sectional meet: please tell me right away. If a qualifier can't make it, we'll move an alternate into their place before the meet. You'll be making another child somewhere in the league very happy.

  • What about alternates?

Fourth place in most events is considered "alternate." They are fill-in athletes in case a qualifier isn't present at the event to compete. There's never a guarantee that an alternate will participate.

If your athlete is an alternate, I generally recommend going to the meet if you can, because, hey, you never know. Alternates in individual running events tend to have better odds than relay teams, since coaches can swap around athletes into relays as needed.

Always be prompt to the meet, have the alternate check in with the clerk, and stay put until their event is held. Alternates usually get placed into competition only at the very last moment so you won't know if they're competing until the race is lined up.

  • Sectional 1600m on Friday May 3 at DVC, 6pm

The 1600m event is held Friday evening at DVC at 6pm. Please show up early enough to get signed in and warmed up. This is a pretty low-key evening, with only the families of qualifiers, coaches, and myself in attendance. There's going to be a bit of sitting around, so athletes need to keep warm while they wait for their race.

  • Sectional meet on Saturday May 4 at Granada, 8:30am

All other events will be held on Saturday at Granada High School in Livermore, with the first event starting promptly 8:30am. That means arriving no later than 8:00am, and honestly, I'd be there sooner than that. Parking fills up quickly at Granada.

The track at Livermore is notorious for its variable climate. It can be windy and freezing, or still and boiling, often on the same day. Pack appropriately, and always keep your athletes warm and hydrated.

I'll talk about the Sectional meet more after we get the qualifying results online.

  • Volunteers at the Sectional meet

Families with qualifying athletes should expect a special email about working at the Sectional meet. To the best of my knowledge, our team is handling the softball throw event and the head clerk position on Saturday. The latter is pretty easy since we're working from a pre-set list of athletes.

Families enlisted into working should show up to the meet nice and early as there's usually a special sign-in process. Lucky you!

Volunteer time done at this meet and the Diocese count as bonus shifts towards your family's overall helpfulness for the season. We'll see how this all shakes out when I have the list of qualifiers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Qualifying meet Saturday, April 27 at 9:00am

Just a reminder that the Qualifying meet is this Saturday, April 27th at Diablo Valley College. Setup starts at 8:00am, and the first shift needs to be signed in and ready to work by 8:30am. Athletes should be at the track warming up no later than 8:30 as well. Please don't be late, since we'll need to start event calls right away to finish on time.

The volunteer schedule is on the web site. Even if you don't get a reminder call or email, please check the assignments:


If you are assigned to a job, you'll need to stay there until relieved by another volunteer, or until the event closes. Don't wander off, and especially don't interfere with any other part of the meet. This is a sure way to get your athlete disqualified.

We'll do our best to keep things moving on Saturday, but this will likely take longer than the practice meets. It's unavoidable.

Whether you're working or watching from the stands, wear comfortable clothing, sunscreen and a hat. Bring water! Most importantly, approach the day with patience and good humor. Tensions are sure to be high at times as championships and drama go hand in hand. This meet and the next two after are excellent times to practice the Golden Rule.

See you on Saturday!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Track news for the week of April 21

The Qualifying meet is the last chance for families to complete their volunteer commitments to the team. It's going to be a long meet -- why not work a double shift and watch the hours slip by?

I'll get the volunteer schedule published as soon as possible. Check the Twitter feed or main page of the web site for updates, and look for the link on the "Volunteers" page:


  • Life after April 27
If your athletes qualify on the 27th: congratulations! We hope to see them at practice.

If your athletes don't qualify on the 27th: darn! We still hope to see them at practice. Practice is always open to everyone on the team.

We're sure to be given jobs to fill at the Sectional meet at Granada High in Livermore. It's a nice facility, but a bit of a drive, so please plan accordingly if you will be making the trip.

Double check that your GPS shows you the correct route, too, since an exit from 580 was removed a little while back, forcing a strange, winding trip to the school. A scenic drive past the regional airport is in your future...

There is an 8:30am start time for the sectional and diocese meets.


The sectional meet is May 3 and 4, and the diocese championship is May 10 and 11. Distance events are run in the evenings on Friday, just to keep life interesting.

You'll hear more about these weekends after we get past the 27th, but the program for the final meet is available now from our web site:


Yes, the order of events is different, and yes, there is such a thing as the "tetherball toss."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Qualifying Meet

The CYO track and field season ends with a series of three championship meets, beginning with the Qualifying meet, then the Sectional, and then the Diocese championship. There are all sorts of rules that we follow for these meets -- here's an overview.

  • Second graders are promoted

Starting with the Qualifying meet, all second graders are magically blessed into third graders for the remainder of the season. They usually find this very exciting. They will line up with and compete as third graders from Saturday's meet forward.

  • Home-side 50m/100m only

After a season of dividing up the 50m/100m races, we're back to holding them all on the home side. This gives the athletes a chance to rest between races, and makes sure that all the timing is handled consistently. It also makes the day go longer, alas.

  • Everyone in the stands

We're normally pretty tolerant of athletes -- and the occasional stray parent -- being on the field during the meets. Starting with the Qualifying meet, though, we insist on parents and athletes waiting in the stands. This is the norm at the Sectional and Diocese meets as well. Penalties range from being asked firmly to sit down, to being asked to leave the meet, to disqualification of the athlete.

Only volunteers who are signed in to a job by their parishes are allowed to be on the field, and must remain at their assigned job for their shift. Even if that means having to miss seeing your child compete somewhere else at the meet, you need to stay put. Track meets ebb and flow, and we're doing our best to keep you busy the whole time.

Athletes not in line for a field event or for the next race have to get back in the stands to wait for their calls. No athletes may pace (run alongside) another athlete. No coaches or family members may do this, either.

Don't risk it. Sit in the stands unless you're assigned to a job, and stay at your job once appointed. Keep your athletes with you in the stands by tempting them with water, snacks, and a comfortable place for them and their friends to hang out.

If you plan to bring some portable shade, set up in the back row of the stadium, or camp out on the away-side, which is lightly occupied at best. You can always walk over to the main side to watch a finish as long as you're not on the track or blocking someone else's view. I like to pack a pair of small sport binoculars for these meets.
  • General seriousness

This meet is where we have to crack down on all sorts of details:

- Baton handoffs inside the zone
- Softball throwers stay behind the line
- Long jumpers not stepping beyond the take-off board (taped area)
- High jump and shot put run by the book

Field events are called by grade, and will close when that grade is done. Athletes who miss their calls may not participate in an event once it's closed. Please help your athletes listen for their field events, and make sure they register when their grade opens up. We can keep a grade open for a little while if we have a signed-in athlete who left to race, but we won't hold it open all day.

Races also close, so we can't squeeze in late runners. For races, "closed" means "the paperwork has left the clerk's hands." Once signed in to a race, an athlete must stay at the clerk area. They can't wander off to finish long jump or go to the bathroom.

If you want to play Announcement Bingo, here's the call sheet we'll be using on Saturday:


Read the sheet from top to bottom to see how the calls will be made. I cannot give estimates of when a particular event will take place, sorry.

Judges and timers will be working very carefully to get good results, and disputes typically involve a quick coordinator confab so we can settle things on the track. Discrepancies in the results have to be resolved at the meet.

After the meet, the results will take extra time to post as all the coordinators gather for a seeding meeting for our Sectional meet. I'll post them when we're cleared by the league.

It's a level of seriousness that we have avoided during the practice meets, but is the best way we know of trying to keep everything fair. Please bear with us as we bring extra scrutiny to the events.

  • Relay teams are "parish pure" and "gender pure"

Starting with the Qualifying meet, all the athletes on a relay team must be enrolled in the same parish, and the entire team needs to be made up of boys or girls. No more mixed-parish or co-ed teams allowed.

This is bad news for the smaller parishes, including St. Catherine and St. Stephen. Even though CTK/SC/SS practices and runs as one team, CYO divides up by parish. These are the same rules the CYO basketball teams follow -- you can't have a mixed-parish basketball team, either. Sorry, you may not wear a different shirt.

4x100 teams must also be grade-pure. All athletes on the team in the same grade, remembering that 2nd graders are now treated as 3rd graders.

4x400 teams may be mixed grade, with the team running up as the oldest athlete.

This year, the Medley relay is going to be run at the diocese final as an actual, official event. According to the program, teams from each grade in boys and girls will compete. We're in uncharted waters here, but it's a good argument for families to stick around to the end of the qualifying meet so we can try to get as many Medley teams qualified as we can. I think Medley teams may also contain mixed grades: I'll get confirmation before Saturday.

One more relay item: it is the team that qualifies, not the four runners. Coaches may, at their discretion, swap in a different athlete into a qualifying team.

If your athlete has the good fortune to have run on such a team but can't make it to Sectionals, please notify the primary coach and me so we can arrange for an alternate to step in. Substitutions are usually only done in cases of unavoidable conflicts, be it First Communion, Comstock soccer, or a visit from Great Aunt Marge.

Arguing with a coach about a relay team is a guaranteed way to keep your athlete off the team. The coaches have been working with your children for months, and I trust their judgment and stand by their decisions. (See the section on keeping perspective, below.)

  • Results combined across heats for all events

During the practice meets, we give ribbons to the top finishers in each heat. However, during the Qualifying meet and beyond, placement is overall for the whole event. We will run as many heats as necessary, but only the top fastest times in the events will progress to next week.

This change is the hardest one to explain to new athletes. ("How could I be fifth? I came in first!") It's the nature of the championships: we need to narrow the field for the sectional and the diocese meets.

  • Progression to the next meet

Typically, it's the top three finishers plus the fourth-place alternate that progress. The 800m and 1600m races and the field events may offer a few more opportunities since they are not limited by lanes, but it's still a very small number overall who move on.

The 4x400 relay is handled differently: the four fastest teams overall will move ahead. This is usually the realm of seventh- and eighth-grade teams, but it's not a guarantee. We will still run all takers in the 4x400 at the Qualifying meet, but the seeding meeting will determine the final qualifiers based on league rules.

Again, I think the Medley is being handled the same as the 4x100 relay, which is determined by top finishing teams per grade and gender.
  • As always, keep perspective!

We try to be as fair as possible with these final meets, but the championships are another one of those "keep perspective" opportunities.

If your athlete was on the cusp of being an alternate but didn't make the cut, please don't take this as a slight against you, your family, or your athlete. Remember the all-volunteer nature of CYO, and breathe! Ditto for relay teams -- not making it on a relay team does not doom your child to a life of unending sadness.

Our team's focus is fun and personal achievement. CYO is a program for children, not adults. Kids are surprisingly resilient, and are far more likely to remember a season of hanging out with track friends than where they ranked in the 400m or whether or not they made it in the 4x100m team.

Always congratulate them on their efforts, and encourage them to come back next season if they had a good time, no matter how their actual marks come out.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lacrosse Tuesdays

I have an updated schedule from the College Park lacrosse team, and it appears that there are home games slated for the next three Tuesdays, including today the 16th. I've marked these on our schedule page:


Please do not go to the stadium/track area when lacrosse is playing: we won't meet there.
Instead, gather on the blacktop area at the bottom of the steps, and then when enough coaches have arrived, we'll move back to the grassy field behind the baseball field. Go down the steps and keep walking straight, taking care around the baseball and soccer teams who may also be using the field.

There's not much I can do about these conflicts since I set up our permits at the end of last year. Next season, however, I'm planning on adding an alternate "fallback day" to our practice schedule.

So, I'll see you on the grass today, and for the next few Tuesdays.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Track news for the week of April 14

  • Meet #3 is in the bag
Our penultimate practice meet is complete with a gloriously sunny day at Ygnacio Valley: much better for running than the chill of the relay meet.  Results will be up in a day or two.

If you hired a high school student and have not paid me yet, please settle up so I can write a check to the YVH boosters. You can pay at practice with cash or  check in an envelope handed to me. Please make sure your name goes on the envelope so I know which family to credit.
  • I goofed!
Many of you noticed a shortfall of helpers on Saturday. It appears that yours truly mixed up "STM" (St. Mary) with "STMA" (Santa Maria) on the schedule, and so assigned jobs to a team that wasn't supposed to run with us.

I'd like to apologize to all those who got drafted into a position last-minute and wound up spending an unexpected day in the sun. I'll be crediting appropriately, especially where I placed our phantom team.

Coincidentally, need a volunteer coordinator on our team for next season. We're OK for this year, but having someone dedicated is the norm for a team our size. You'll spend time in the care and feeding of spreadsheets, and juggling names around on the same. Families who work team jobs -- such as volunteer coordinator -- are excused from the requirement to work at meets.
  • Final practice meet April 20 at DVC
We have one more practice meet to go, this weekend at DVC. We're running with St. Isidore/St. Joan of Arc, which is a very large team. They also host meets, and so are very familiar with the running of the same (they created the away-side 50m/100m strategy, for example.) This is good news for me.

They also have a lot of jobs pre-assigned to their parish, which is good news for you, the lucky volunteers! Many of you many find yourselves shuffled around if St. I/St. J has already filled the positions that you requested. It'll all be fine.
  • Qualifying meet April 27 at DVC
After our upcoming meet begins the championship season. There are three meets here, starting with the Qualifying Meet on April 27, again at DVC. There are a number of things that make the final meets special, and I've got another post spelling them out in detail. Athletes must compete and place at the Qualifying Meet to progress to the next meet. There are no exceptions: if you cannot attend the meet, the athlete does not qualify.

That last part typically means the end of the competitive season for many of our athletes, either because of schedule conflicts (hello, First Communion families!) or because the athletes do not place high enough in the results. There's more about this in the other post, which I'll send around soon.
  • Ribbons
We should be caught up for the first two meets, plus the relay meet. I've heard reports that there are a handful of athletes without them. There's three possibilities for missing ribbons. (Four, if you count "I lost it in the parking lot!")

1) The primary coach has them

Did your athlete miss a practice? Murphy's Law says that was the day when they were handed out. Please check with your primary coaches first.


2) A different coach has them

This often happens for relays: a younger athlete's ribbon is in the group with the older kids they ran with, or a girl's ribbon wound up with the boys. We might have it, and the coaches just need to sift through their leftover pile and the roster.

3) Nobody has them

If you've exhausted the other options, then it's perfectly possible that for one reason or another a ribbon didn't get printed. I've requested blanks from the league, and can run off a new label so we can add it to your athlete's collection.

I have a short list going already. If your athlete's heartsick over a ribbon they never received, send me their name, the meet date, and the event where they placed. I'll look up the results and run off the appropriate ribbon for them. If it's a Personal Best, then I'll do the same.

We like handing out awards, no matter how long it takes to actually get them to their rightful owners.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Scholarship opportunity for 8th grade CYO athletes

From the Diocese CYO office:

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 2013 Marty Mart Scholarship Award, one $500 scholarship. An application is attached. Also, the application form will be posted on the CYO website, www.oaklandcyo.org. On the homepage is a link to a special page with information and past recipients of the award.

Over the past ten years, we have interviewed and awarded scholarships to many outstanding young people in our CYO program … thank you for what you do in helping to form and inspire these fine, young athletes!

The scholarship application and list of past recipients is available from the diocese web site.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet #3 at YVHS, Saturday April 13

Just a reminder that meet #3 is scheduled for Ygnacio Valley High this Saturday. Setup crew should be there and ready to work at 8:30, we can admit athletes onto the field at 9:00, and we'll try for a 9:30 start.

This week we're running with familiar faces: St. Mary, St. John Vianney, Queen of All Saints, and St. Perpetua/St. Monica/Santa Maria, who we last saw back at the mini-meet.

We're in need of some expertise this week in critical jobs. If you're able to step up and help, you'll have the appreciation of everyone there for keeping the meet moving.


This is also the last meet where you may hire a YVHS student to cover your shift(s). The cost is $25 per shift, but you must let me know right away. I have to get a final head count to YVH. So far I have been notified and paid by two families. I can't guarantee that last-minute help will be available on Saturday.
You can let me know of your intent-to-hire by email and I'll mark my master sheet, and then seal the deal by paying me in person at practice.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Track news for the week of April 7

  • Volunteer time
How's your family doing on their volunteer time? By my records, some are done already, and some have barely begun. I ran a report this morning of the totals so far per family:


Coaches and families working special team jobs should be omitted from the list. I'm happy to go back to the meet sign-in sheets to confirm names.

Remember, per league rules, families must meet their team's volunteer requirements for their athletes to compete in the championships. I spelled this out in the newsletter two weeks ago:


It's also on our team site:


We're short of volunteers for the remaining meets, so there's still time to get into the league's good graces. Let me know the meets and shifts you can work and I'll add you to the master list. You can even do this online:

Job assignments are based on availability, but if you have your heart set on something ("Golly, I love shot put") make a note of it and I'll do my best to place you there.

We also gladly accept walk-up volunteers at meets, though I can't always guarantee that we'll find a job for you. It's better to be safe and sign up in advance.

  • Relay meet complete
I hope everyone who was able to attend this year's relay meet had a good time. The drizzle held off until just as I was driving away: perfect timing! Results should be up in a few days, though getting relays loaded into Athletic.net is something of an art. I'll do my best to match up all the names, especially from the mix-and-match teams.

  • Practice resumes this week

Practice as usual, 5:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday at College Park. There is a lacrosse game scheduled for Tuesday the 9th, so please do not head to the stadium if that's going on. (If the scoreboard is lit up, there's a game going.) Watch for me or the coaches on the blacktop basketball courts to direct you if we have to surrender the track for the day.

I have the ribbons from the meet on March 23, and plan to get those to the coaches on Tuesday to hand out at the end of practice.
  • Two practice meets left: April 13 (YVHS) and April 20 (DVC)
If the weather continues to cooperate, we have two practice meets left. Athletes must have participated in two such meets this season to be eligible to run in the Qualifying meet, and their families must be working their volunteer time as above. After that, the championships get started.

CORRECTION: I had said both meets were at DVC. I had that wrong -- we're back at Ygnacio Valley on the 13th and DVC on the 20th.
  • Qualifying meet April 27
The end of the month marks the start of the championship season: starting with the Qualifying meet, only athletes who place in the top three overall -- plus alternates -- may progress to the next week's meet. I'll be talking more about this in the weeks to come, and I'm happy to answer questions during practice, too.

Even if your athlete doesn't place in the championships, they are still encouraged to come to practice.
  • Saturday June 1: save the date!
Mark your calendars now; our end-of-season potluck picnic and awards extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday June 1 from 11:30am to 3:30pm-ish at Pleasant Hill Park on Gregory Lane. We're back at picnic area #3, which is next to the new teen center.


This is always a lot of fun, and a chance for the athletes to see their track friends again before summer.  We draw for prizes for the super-helpful families, thank the coaches, and say one last farewell to the massive Lost & Found pile.

More details to come as we get closer to the date, but if you're able to make it, we'd love to see your family there.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Track news for the week of March 31

Happy Easter, everyone. Hope your kids haven't consumed as much sugar as mine have.
  • Meet awards and results
The coaches handed out the first batch of awards at practice on the 26th, giving out ribbons for those who placed in their events or set personal bests at Meet #1 on the 16th.

Ribbons from the next meet are in and off to the sorter, and the next round of personal bests are, too. We usually get all caught up by the end of the season.

Results are linked from our Schedule page after I get them from the league:

  • Practice on Thursday only this week: no practice on Tuesday
There's no practice on Tuesday, April 2. Enjoy your break from the bleachers.

Practice will resume this Thursday, April 4 at the usual time, 5:00-6:30pm, weather permitting.

Because College Park is on spring break, there's a very good chance that the gates to the large student lot will be closed and locked. You should still be able to pull into the loop in front of the school, and maybe even wrangle a parking space.

Please drive extra carefully and watch for athletes moving between parked cars no matter where you're driving.
  • Relay meet Saturday, April 6, 9:00am at YVHS
This is my favorite meet of the season, though it's often banished to the end of spring break. There are neither field events nor individual running events at this meet: just relays.

The event order is:

Medley (200m, 200m, 400m, 800m)

You would think that with only four events on the schedule, we'd be in and out quickly. You would be wrong! This meet typically lasts just as long as a regular practice meet, thanks to the added complexity of staging and running relays. If you're working, you will be kept plenty busy. If you're spectating, prepare for some down time between heats.

Distance runners take note! This week's medley relay is twice as long as our usual sprint medley event.
  • Relay team rules
There are a couple of rules that we follow when we assemble relay teams for practice meets:

- A team runs as the grade of its oldest athlete (the "run up" rule)

A group of third-graders with a fifth-grade bonus athlete on the team runs as a fifth-grade team and should line up with the fifth-graders.

- Girls' teams may only contain girls; co-ed teams run as boys

Self-explanatory, I think. As soon as a boy joins a team, the entire team runs with the boys' races.

So, here's your track brain-teaser: If you have a team of three seventh-grade girls and one third-grade boy, how should they run?

If you answered "as a seventh-grade boys' team" then you are wise indeed and should volunteer as a clerk!

Coaches are always the final authority on the members of a team, and are free to arrange runners and teams as they see fit. Please trust their judgement and respect their decisions -- it's always hard for the fifth runner without a team, or that group of three that can't find a fourth, but the kids will bounce back quickly.

There are no limits to the number of relays an athlete may participate in at this meet. All grades may run all events, and some athletes learn that they can game the system and run the same event twice...
  • St. Mix-and-Match of Hodgepodge, patron saint of free agency
A little math will tell you that it's very hard to form relay teams when many of your athletes are on vacation. Enter the magic of the "free agent" zone.

For this meet only, athletes not assigned to a relay team may come to a special location on the field to be placed, subject to the above rules but regardless of parish. This often results in at least one ad-hoc team per race made from four totally disconnected parishes, formed seconds before the athletes were sent off to their start positions. Baton handoffs in these improvised teams are a wonder to behold.

We'll make announcements about this special area on the field and I'm going to invent a couple of volunteer positions to help out here. If we have four otherwise unattached athletes hanging around, we'll transform them into a team and get them running.
  • Volunteers this week, and YVH students-for-hire
There are fewer positions this week, but we still need volunteers, and if you signed up this week, expect a notice from our tireless reminders. If you signed up but are unavailable, please reply back so we're not surprised Saturday morning.

Since we're back at Ygnacio Valley, you may opt to hire a YVH student for your shift for $25, paid in cash or a check made out to CTK CYO Track. Hand your payment to me in an envelope with your name and the meet date on it. Since we only have one practice this week, you can email your intent-to-hire to me now so I can pass it along to YVH:


Please reserve early. YVH is also on break this week, and student helpers are limited. Do not wait until the morning of the meet to hire a student.
  • Special jobs this week
Since this meet is so different, there are a couple of volunteer positions that I'm opening up/inventing for Saturday:

- Extra shepherds

There's a lot of walking and guiding this week, so we'll toss a couple more shepherd/runner positions in the mix to give folks a break

- Dedicated corner judges

You'll stand at the corners during the events and watch the handoffs, and help usher athletes on and off the track between races

- 4x200m handoff coordinator

This relay is unusual enough to warrant an extra person out on the far corner to help the final baton pass in the 4x200 (probably a coach)

- Free agent advocate

Athletes in the free-agent waiting area don't always speak up, and coaches can forget they are there: adult supervision can help get these athletes placed on teams and on the track


That's all for today: please reply if you intend to hire a student for this Saturday -- the sooner I can get a count in to YVH, the more likely it is we'll have extra help. Have a good Easter, and I'll see you Thursday at the track.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Practice today, Easter, and a summer camp opportunity

Hi all, a couple of quick notes...

  • College Park is hosting a lacrosse game at 5pm today
Please watch for me or the coaches around the blacktop area as you come down from the parking lot. Please advise your athletes not to run off to the stadium when they arrive. We'll still finish by 6:30 and pickup as usual.
  • There is no practice this Thursday
All CYO activities are suspended for the Easter weekend. Enjoy the time off, no matter how you celebrate spring.
  • DLS track camp in June
If your athletes are enjoying track, they might be interested in the day camp run at De La Salle High in Concord (just around the corner from Ygnacio Valley High.) There's an offer now on Plum District that can save you some money:

My own kids have attended this camp for a couple of years, and they had a lot of fun.

It looks like it's open to athletes who will be in grade 4-9 next year (so grades 3 and up right now.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Track news for the week of March 24

Time once again for your track news of the week...
  • Practice conflicts
 College Park's lacrosse teams are hosting games, and we've already felt the sting of losing our practice field to them once this season. They have some more home games overlapping our practice times this spring. Keep checking the Schedule page, or follow @ctktrack on Twitter on your smartphone for from-the-field updates.


Our backup meeting location is the large grassy area behind the baseball fields. If there's a game going in the stadium, look for me or the coaches around the College Park blacktop area/basketball courts, directing traffic.
  • Meet #2 complete
Hope everyone who attended our second league meet had a good time and appreciated the fantastic weather out at the track. I ordered that special, just for you.

The league properly calls these "practice" meets since they are a chance for the various teams in our section to run against each other, and for parents to practice volunteer jobs. The real purpose of the meets is to get the kids together for fun and athleticism, not to count ribbons or stress about finishing first. I think there were fewer glitches overall this week as everyone settled in to the meet routine.
  •  Ribbons from Meet #1
I have them in my possession, and I'll get them to the coaches to pass out after practice. Personal best ribbons are due back in shortly, and may show up at the same practice. If I get ambitious, unclaimed ribbons from last season will also make an appearance at an upcoming practice.

Out of the 300+ results from the first meets (ours and two others), there were a couple of issues as the data-entry staff valiantly tried to decipher names, times, and places. If your athlete receives the wrong (or no) ribbon from an event, please don't take it as a personal slight. I can guarantee that after a season or two, the actual physical award will be forgotten in a shoe box in the back of a closet or jammed into a dresser drawer.

I don't have a lot of control over the regular meet ribbons -- they're delivered to me pre-printed and counted into bundles. I do figure out the personal bests, though, so if I've goofed, please let me know.

Results are linked on the Schedule page, next to the meets. There's the raw spreadsheets as a Google document, and a link to Athletic.net where you can check how your athlete has progressed over the season on their own individual pages:

  •  Easter, spring break, and the relay meet
There are no CYO activities over the Easter weekend, so:

- No practice this Thursday, March 28, and
- No meet on this Saturday, March 30

Many families are heading out for spring break. There's no need to notify me or the coaches -- have a great time and we'll see you when you return.

If you are still around, we're deciding what the practices will look like next week. I'll send an email around about it, and will keep the schedule page on the web site updated.

I also hope that you'll come to the relay meet on April 6, which is my favorite meet of the season. I'll talk more about that next week. If you're in town, it's not to be missed.
  • Eligibility for the Qualifying Meet on April 27
Saturday was the second of our four practice meets, and on April 27 we start the championship meets, starting with the Qualifying Meet. All eligible athletes may compete in that meet, to try and earn a spot in the Sectionals the week following.

How is an athlete eligible? By competing at least two of the practice meets during the season. (The relay meet does not count.) That means that to be allowed to compete on April 27, your athlete must have attended and competed in two of the meets held March 16, March 23, April 13, and April 20.

Athletes who compete and place in the Qualifying meet will move on to the Sectional the week following. Athletes who don't place are still welcome and encouraged to come to practice. I'll talk more about the championships after Easter.
  • First Communion conflicts
Inevitably, many of our second-graders will have schedule conflicts as they prepare for their First Communion. Although it should go without saying, please prioritize holy sacraments above track meets. If your second-grader enjoyed track that much this year, then by all means sign him or her up again next season. The world will not end because they didn't throw a softball on Saturday or had to miss being on a relay team. (This applies to older siblings, too, though they may be harder to convince.)
  • League policy on volunteering
I gather through the CYO grapevine that some parishes are having trouble getting volunteers to work at meets. Not ours, I'm happy to report, but it's been enough of an issue that the league coordinators sent out an email with the official policy about parent volunteers. I've posted it on our site's "Volunteers" page:


Please read this over. If you have not volunteered for any jobs this season, not only will you lose your $50 deposit, but you are also preventing your athlete from competing in the Qualifying meet and the championships. Yikes.

You should not think of the $50 deposit as a volunteer "buy-out" amount: our team doesn't offer buy-outs. A full meet has about 160 jobs to fill every Saturday, including the away-side 50m/100m races. As hosts we should never be short of someone willing to help. To date we've gone over our team commitments for both meets, but we only have three to go, and the late-season meets are looking short on CTK/SC/SS families. I really, really don't want to disqualify any of our athletes over this. Please come help out at meets.
  • Lost and Found
I think Saturday's meet easily doubled the amount of left-behind clothing and gear that I already have in my possession. Does any of it belong to your family? I will not be sad at all to remove it from my living room.


Please tell me if something looks familiar and I can pack it for practice. The CTK Lost & Found Spring 2013 Collection is now too large for me to bring in its entirety, but I can assure you it contains the latest in youth athletic fashions and water-toting accessories, in a variety of sizes and styles.

I'll keep harvesting the leftovers after meets, and you'll get to see the entire line at the end-of-season picnic in June. Anything unclaimed after the picnic goes off to Goodwill to find new owners.


That's all for this shortened week. I'll see you at the track.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meet #2 and College Park "Spike Night"

Hello all, a quick update...
  • Meet #2 volunteer list is up
I've done a pass at the volunteer assignments for this Saturday's meet, you can get it directly here:


Alternately, you can download it from our team site's "Schedule" or "Volunteers" pages. I know there are some families that I need to add in which I haven't accounted for yet.

If you have not yet signed up to work this season, you have a few meets left. Your family must make your minimum shifts by the Qualifying Meet on April 27 or forfeit your volunteer deposit. I don't enjoy cashing those checks, so please, help us out! We especially need volunteers in the later end of the season.

The meet is at DVC this weekend, and we can setup at 8:00am. First shift and athletes should arrive at 8:30, and we'll try for a 9:00am start. Remember to come in on the Viking Drive side of DVC, just like you're going to practice.
  • College Park "Spike Night" this Thursday at Road Runner in Concord
Road Runner Sports in Concord is hosting a "spike night" to support the College Park high track team. CYO has fed many athletes into College Park's program over the years, and of course we're using their facilities for our practices. Events like this are a good way to help support their program and help to ensure the future of high school athletics.

I've posted their flyer on the web site:


Even if you or your kids aren't looking for track shoes, they have lots of other running-related gear in the store. You can head over after practice and have dinner out, too.
  • Lost & Found (& found & found)
It always fills up after meets, and I grabbed more than a few things from the field today after practice. Don't forget to check out Lost & Found page to see if your athletes need to be reunited with their missing clothing and water bottles.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Track news for the week of March 17

  • Meet #1: Run and done!
I hope everyone had a good time at our first real meet of the season on Saturday. As the season progresses, the athletes get faster and the parent volunteers get a little more polished at their jobs. We usually get a little faster overall by the end of the season, but it's still a long day if you get all the way to that final relay. By my reckoning, we were all done by 1:45pm, which is pretty good for a 9:30am (or 9:45ish) start.

My special thanks as always to the parent volunteers who stayed until the very end to help out, and those who got pressed into an unfamiliar job with five seconds of trackside training. The kids especially appreciate all that you do, even if it's largely invisible to them.

It does look like many of our own second-shift volunteers didn't check in. There's many gaps on our sign-in sheet from the 16th, and I know we were scrambling in the second half to fill jobs. You must sign in to get credit: please don't rely on my terrible memory for names and faces.
  • Results
Initial results should be back within a couple of days from the league's data-entry ninja squad. They do their best to key in the results from all those hundreds of sheets of paper that flow through the track meet. I'll work on getting them online soon after.

I know there were a couple of hiccups on Saturday: the older-kids' mile didn't get placed quite right, at least one of each of the girls' and boys' short sprints didn't have times, and there was some creative measuring techniques in a few of the field events. These things happen, especially at the first meet.

If the final numbers don't 100% match your athlete's memory or your own ("But I'm sure my Susie finished that race in first place!") don't stress out. One ribbon, or the lack thereof, won't matter to the athletes in about a week, and next season they won't remember it at all.

One of my favorite activities is to wander around near the end of a meet and ask the athletes, "Did you have fun?" If they say "Yes!" then that's the best result of all. Ribbons are just a bonus.
  • Meet #2 at DVC, Saturday March 23, 9:00am start
Our second meet is this Saturday at DVC. Stadium parking is just across the street from our practice location, off Viking Drive. Don't come to the main campus entrance, no matter what your GPS says.

Setup crew and volunteer sign-in should arrive at 8:00am, and athletes and first shift volunteers should arrive by 8:30am.

We'll be running with teams from St. Michael's, St. Agnes, St. Francis of Assisi, and Queen of All Saints. If you're ever curious about where all these parishes are based, the diocese has a handy map on their web site:

  • Schedule for the rest of the season
We now have the locations of the rest of our meets, but not all the teams we're running with (yet):


It's DVC and Ygnacio Valley High for the remainder of the practice meets and relay meet, plus our usual excursions to Union City and Livermore for the championships (or as my kids call them: "The stop-at-In-N-Out-on-the-way-home meets.")
  • Rent-a-student at YVH
Don't forget that you may hire an Ygnacio Valley High student to work a shift or two for you at any YVH-located meets, thus earning your family credit and helping the YVH students earn league fees. Please get your payment to me in advance at practice by handing me an envelope with your name on it containing $25 per shift in either cash or a check made out to "CTK CYO Track"

Future YVH meets are April 6 and April 13. If you're going to miss the relay meet on April 6, why not hire a student to round out your family's shift responsibilities? You may do this even if you did not originally sign up for that meet.

YVH actually ran out of available students on Saturday's meet because of last-second hires by all four teams, so reserve early!
  • Volunteer shifts, or "When did I sign up to work?"
After the parent meeting back in February, I keyed in all the volunteer sign up sheets, and now maintain these as a spreadsheet when it's time to assign meet jobs. Here's the state of that spreadsheet as of Saturday afternoon:


It's sorted by the meet date, family names and the shift within the meet. Please make sure this lines up with your calendar, taking into account family vacations and First Communion-related activities that might conflict.

I do assignments for the next meet a week in advance so I can give the other parishes time to fill their responsibilities, so the sooner I'm told of an absence, the better. If you're using the online form to handle signups, I check that regularly, but again -- I need to know sooner rather than later.


Emergencies and unplanned outages happen, of course. I understand the chaos that a sudden fever can unleash on well-laid plans.


That's all for now. It's practice as usual this week, from 5:00-6:30 on Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting. I'll see you at the track!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Meet #1, Saturday March 16

Just a quick email to remind everyone that our first league meet is this Saturday, March 16 at Ygnacio Valley High in Concord.
- Setup shift and volunteer sign-in should be at YVH and ready to work at 8:30
- Athletes and first-shift volunteers may come onto the field at 9:00

This week we are running with the teams from St. Francis, St. John Vianney, and St. Mary.
  • When you arrive
On arrival, athletes should find their coach and check in. First-shift volunteers should come to the tents near the finish line and check in for their jobs and get their mandatory sticker that allows them on the field.

Meet jobs for this week are on the website on the "Volunteers" page and also linked from the "Schedule" page:


If you've hired a YVH student to cover your shift, then enjoy the meet from the comfort of the stands. We have more meets at YVH scheduled this season, so you'll have other chances to enlist child labor in your name.
  • Events
 It's the full slate this week. In order, the running events are:

1600m (a.k.a. "the mile")
4x100m relay
50m (grades 2-5 only)
Sprint Medley relay (100m, 100m, 200m, 400m)
4x400m relay

Field events are:

Softball throw
Long Jump
Shot put (grades 5-8 only)
High jump (grades 5-8 only)

Here's a printable cheat sheet with the same information:


All running events will check in at the end zone behind the first aid tent this year, to keep athletes from wandering over the sidelines. Athletes check-in by the giant signs corresponding to their grade on the field: there's someone there with a clipboard ready to help.

With the exception of the 1600m, running events are called the same way: girls run first lowest grade to highest grade, then boys follow from the lowest grade to the highest. Listen to the announcements! They will get you through.

This week, the boys will run their 50m and 100m along the away side of the track at the same time that the girls run their races down the home side. (At the next meet we'll reverse that and let the boys run for the big audience.) Again, listen for the announcements.

Field events check in at the event itself. Take a few moments to orient yourself when you arrive, and be sure to ask experienced families where everything is. Shot put at YVH is tucked off by a building on the away-side of the track -- it's out there, honest.
  • Survival
Whether you are working or watching or running, everyone should bring water, sun protection, dress in layers, and (for the stands) bring something comfy to sit on. Healthy, light snacks are a good idea for athletes -- orange wedges, grapes, carrot sticks, pretzels or popcorn. Save the jumbo hot dogs and pizza for after the meet. Running hard on a full stomach never ends well.

Eat all food and drinks in the stands -- water only on the track and turf. And no alcohol or smoking at all is permitted on the school grounds.
  • Results, ribbons, and philosophy
This is the first meet when athletes will have a chance to earn ribbons for placing in the top three positions in their heat or within their grade at their field event. All the result sheets will be sent off for data entry after the meet, and I'll get results back in a few days, and will post them on our team page on Athletic.net after that.


Remember that our goal with any athlete is improvement during their CYO career. To that end, our team recognizes when athletes set a personal best time or distance in an event with a special gold ribbon handed out at practice. I'm always happy to see our athletes place in their events, but I'm happier still to see them grow week to week and season to season.

Returning athletes on our team have the advantage here as they'll be able to earn personal best ribbons based on their results from prior seasons. New athletes will have their chance after they participate in a second meet. We don't hand out personal bests for relays -- only for individual events. I have a huge box full of these at my house, and nothing would make me happier than to use them all up.


That's it. First-timers, don't panic! It all comes together in the end. 

See you on Saturday,
// Mike

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Track news for the week of March 10

Hello again everyone, here's your news of the week...
  • Mini-meet, the aftermath
I hope those of you who were able to attend Saturday's mini-meet had a good time, and feel more comfortable about how our meets work. With relays added back in and more athletes on the track, things won't move quite as fast as they did on Saturday, but the layout and operation is the same.

We do add in an "away-side" shift for the 50m and 100m races, so we can utilize both sides of the track and cut about an hour from our end time. Announcements at the meet will let you know which group (girls or boys) will run their short sprints on the home side of the track that day, and which group gets to run the away-side.

Special thanks to all the unintentional double-shifters and the bonus volunteers that stepped up to fill in. We quite honestly could not have done it without you. And my everlasting gratitude goes to all the families new and returning who were thrust into an unfamiliar job and handled it with grace and good humor.
  • For next time...
 A few things I noticed on Saturday (because I forgot to remind everyone)...

- Absolutely no food or drinks are allowed on the turf or track at any of our meets. This is to protect the surfaces from the sort of damage that only a stomped-on fruit roll-up can cause. The school booster parents thank you in advance.

Plain, unadulterated water is the only thing allowed on the track or turf. This applies to both athletes and adults, even to coordinators desperate for a refreshing mid-meet iced coffee. All food and drink has to be consumed in the stands, with trash and recycling going into the appropriate cans afterward.

- It was plenty warm on the field, and doing a job is thirsty work. Don't forget to pack water for yourself as well as for your athletes. I went through three full bottles myself. Wear sunscreen and a good hat, and dress in layers. Ygnacio Valley High can be very windy and you may experience a full range of climates at a single meet.

- If you bring an umbrella or a pop-up tent to a meet, you're welcome to set it up in the stands, provided that you do this securely -- lots of bungee cords -- and so that it doesn't block anyone's view. The back rows of the stands usually get claimed quickly for exactly this reason.

- If you're working a field event job, make sure that you complete the sheets before you close for the day. This typically means making sure that you've written each athlete's best mark on the sheet (highest jump or farthest throw) and ranked the athletes within their grade. One of our proofreaders stayed well past the end of Saturday's meet to fill in the gaps one some of the field event sheets.
  • Results from the Mini Meet
For league meets, there's a swarm of data-entry people that spin all those colorful pieces of paper into data gold. Results go online at athletic.net, and parents and coaches pore over them in detail.

For the mini meet... it's just me. I'm planning on scanning the result sheets and placing them online sometime early this week for your perusal. If anyone wants to key them in, I won't stop you, but this meet was for fun and experience, and not for results or ribbons.
  •  Phantom athletes
That is, runners from our team not appearing on the official roster. If you have such an athlete -- they didn't have a pre-printed sticker on Saturday, for instance -- then you need to contact me at once at info@ctktrack.org and complete your registration. I have already supplied a roster to the league, and this is used for all record keeping and for handing out awards. I have to get updates to them in quickly.

Our full team roster as of March 10 is on the web site:


(Firefox users: you may need to download the file to your computer to read it.)

Please look this over for spelling of names, and especially for any athletes who may have slipped through the administrative cracks. If I don't notify the league about them, then those athletes don't effectively exist.
  • Practice end-time time change
With the switch to Daylight Savings Time, we can extend practice to our full allotted time. Starting this week and continuing through the end of the season, practices are every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00-6:30pm.
  • Need a uniform?
Our super-sorter Denise Burkhart still has lots of uniform shirts and team sweatshirts to hand out: she's planning to be at practice on Tuesday if we have good weather. Look for her at a table right at the base of the steps down from the parking lot. You should recognize the familiar red, blue, and yellow colors of our three parishes among the heaps of t-shirts.

Pre-ordered shirts and sweats should all be ready to go to their new owners, and we've got some extras for sale, too. Please make Denise happy by picking up your things so she doesn't have to haul them back home!
  • Meet #1 at Ygnacio Valley High, Saturday March 16
Out first real league meet is this Saturday at Ygnacio Valley High. The first event should start 9:30am, and due to an agreement with the neighborhood around YVH, no athletes may be in the stadium prior to 9:00am.

We have a 9:30 start time, so:

* Setup crew and volunteer sign-in should be on site and ready to start at 8:30am
* First shift and athletes should arrive by 9:00am

I know that the setup crew will very likely have their own athletes with them. I will be there at setup, so let's plan to meet in the parking lot near the stadium gate and we'll figure out what we're going to do.

I am working on getting the volunteer assignments together for this meet.
  • Rent-a-student at Ygnacio Valley
Remember that you may hire a high school student from YVH to work your shift(s) for you at this meet, for $25 per shift. All money collected helps the YVH students pay their own league fees, which are significant.

If you want to take advantage of it, please hand me an envelope at practice with your name on it, the date of the meet, and the fees inside in either cash or a check made out to "CTK CYO Track" and I'll give you credit for the shift. Please do this as soon as possible. I need to give a count to Ygnacio Valley High.
  • Need to sign up for volunteer time?
If you joined the team after February 11, you probably have not signed up for volunteer time.

I'm trying an experiment: there's a new form up on the team site on the "Volunteers" page that you can complete to request jobs at meets:


Remember that we're asking families to work at least five times during the regular season. Working less than the minimum forfeits your deposit, but working more earns you a chance in our end-of-season prize drawing. You can always double up at a meet with a spouse or other adult -- each working a shift -- or power through the day by working both first and second shifts.

You may also come to the volunteer sign-in table at the meets and see if there are any openings that day. We had many such standby volunteers at the mini meet, and I believe we found jobs for all of them in the end.

If you do volunteer, you must sign in with the volunteer check-in person to get credit for a shift, and you must wear one of the volunteer stickers to prevent being ushered off the track. Sign-ins are at the tables at the finish line.


That's more than enough for this week -- see you on the track!