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 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 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, 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 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!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bonus newsletter: mini-meet edition

Hello families, here's a little mid-week bonus newsletter regarding this weekend's "mini" meet...
  • My favorite question: Which events will my kid run?
Athletes are free to participate in any events that they are eligible for, and we only register an athlete during the meet itself. Until that athlete is standing before someone with a clipboard, copying down their information, their participation is wide open.

That said, coaches do try to encourage athletes to try certain events, and to step outside of the comfort zone of always doing the short sprints and softball throw. Sooner or later, everyone seems to find an event that they're pretty good at, though it may take a season or two (or more) to find it.

* Athletes in 5th grade or younger may do the 50m (sorry, middle schoolers)

* Athletes in 5th grade or older may do the shot put and high jump (sorry, elementary schoolers)

Everything else is open to all ages.

Athletes may do two running events and one field event, or two field events and one running.
  • My second-favorite question: What about uniforms?
Our sorter has them, and I'm sure she's up to her elbows in shirts and sweatshirts right now. If for some reason we do not have them in time for Saturday, it's fine.

All registered athletes wear a sticker that identifies their parish, so we'll still be able to sort out who's who. If you want to be fashion-forward, you're welcome to wear red (CTK), blue (St. Catherine), or yellow (St. Stephen) but it's not required this week.
  • Saturday's events
In the interest of time -- and because I don't yet have all our equipment from the league -- we are going to drop all relays from this weekend's meet. There's a lot of moving parts to making relays happen, and I know we'll be busy enough without them. You'll get to experience the splendor in full next week.

That means this Saturday's event order is all the individual events:

50m (5th grade and under)

Girls always run in an event first, then boys, and we work from lowest to highest grade order. We combine heats for less-popular races, so pay attention to the calls!

We're planning to hold all four field events:

Softball throw
Long Jump
Shot put (5th grade and up only)
High jump (5th grade and up only)

There is no order to these events, though they should open to different grades throughout the day. Listen for the announcements.

Athletes must report to running events when their grade is called, which means they may have to leave a field event and come back later.
  •  Other differences
I don't have the timing system, so we're simply not going to worry about times this weekend. You may see coaches near the finish line this week -- and this week only -- timing their athletes, and if we can round up enough stopwatches, we'll arm our timer volunteers with them, too. The mini meet is about fun and learning. (In truth they all are, but this week especially.) We'll still do our finish-line ritual of placing athletes, and we'll still have timers and judges so you're familiar with the motions when we host the meet next week.

Please be patient with your fellow parents as they learn where to stand and what to do, and be understanding of the athletes, too, as they negotiate the complexity of the meet. We'll all be experts by the end of April, I promise.

We'll have a hard stop at 4:00pm, no matter where we are in the events. If that means that we have to sacrifice a late race, then so be it. I'm sure everyone will be eager to get home by that point.
  • Special guests
In addition to St. Perpetua, St. Ignatius is also planning to join us this Saturday. They provide an excellent lesson in humility for our sprinters. There will be a lot of new faces and lots of kids about on Saturday, so please help out with directions, and drive slowly and carefully through the parking lot.
  • Volunteers
The team volunteer reminders should be contacting you very soon if you've signed up to work a shift or two at the meet. There are always opportunities for families to sign up for a job at the meet; it's a rare day indeed when we can turn away able-bodied helpers.

Don't forget that you're trying to meet a minimum number of volunteer shifts this season: going above and beyond enters you in the team "super-helpful drawing" at the picnic for fabulous prizes.

If you are not working a shift or are a coach with a current CYO badge, you must stay in the stands  during the meet. For athletes' safety, only authorized adults may be "inside" the meet. Your kids will come find you when they're thirsty or hungry, so hunker down in the stands with a cooler full of snacks and enjoy the meet. Anyone wandering around the meet who isn't a coach or volunteer will be asked politely-yet-firmly to sit down.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Track news for the week of March 3

Here we go, everyone! The season is starting up...
  • Mini-meet this Saturday, March 9
This coming Saturday is our mini meet held at College Park High. Setup crew and volunteer signups person should plan to be on the field at 11:00am, and the first shift should be signed in and ready to go by 11:30. We're going to try for a noon start. Always check Twitter or the web site if the weather looks gloomy.

The mini-meet is a good time to experience the workings of a track meet before our regular season begins. It's also a chance for the athletes to try out some of the skills they've learned at practices.

Like last year, I've extended an invitation to the St. Perpetua/St. Monica/Santa Maria team from the Lamorinda area to come run with us. Please be welcoming and accommodating to their parents and athletes.

We'll conduct this meet like a regular-season one, with the following tweaks:

- The 50m and 100m races will all be on the home side, not split up
- We will probably not run the 4x400 and sprint medley relays at the end
- Since this is not a league meet, we don't have ribbons, but we are still recording all results
  •  Volunteer jobs
I've assigned volunteer jobs based on the sheets from the signup nights, and on emails since signups. This is posted on the web site:

I tried to mix in new families with more experienced ones as much as possible. Remember to keep perspective, bring your sense of humor and your patience, and keep in mind that we're doing all of this work for the athletes' enjoyment.

If you need a refresher on the jobs, there's a write up on the team site:

There are many gaps in Saturday's schedule. I've asked St. Perpetua's parents to try and help out where they can, and we always have tremendous gratitude for those families that can work extra shifts. Trust me: the meet goes faster when you're working a job.

We have many openings in the second shift at the mini meet, and for meets during the rest of the season. Even if you don't sign up in advance, you may come to the volunteer sign-in person before a shift and see if there are openings. There's usually plenty to go around.

If you haven't signed up to work at other meets, please check the team schedule and let me know which Saturdays you are available. We have more openings in the latter part of the season.
  • Meet locations
We have the locations for our first three league meets:

March 16 - Ygnacio Valley High
March 23 - Diablo Valley College
April 6 -  Ygnacio Valley High

We don't yet know the locations for meets after April 6. I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

Ygancio meets start at 9:30am, the DVC meet starts at 9:00am. The schedule page has all the details:
  • Rent-a-student at YVHS is back
Returning families are surely pleased to see those Ygnacio Valley High meets, because the "rent-a-student" program is back again in 2013. For $25 per shift, you may hire an eager high school athlete to work in your place at a YVH meet.

To hire a student, do the following at least one week in advance of the meet:
  1. Tell me the date and shift(s) you want to have a student work in your place
  2. Get me $25 per shift in cash or in a check made out to CTK CYO Track 
Please hand me the payments at practice in an envelope with:
  • Your name on it
  • The date of the meet and the shift(s) you are hiring
I gather all the fees and write a single check to YVH from the team. You must pay through our team in order to receive volunteer credit. Please don't wait until the day of the meet to do this -- we need to give a count in advance to YVH.
  • Uniforms
As I type this, there are several large boxes of shirts and sweatshirts in the middle of my living room. They're destined for our super-sorter, who will soon appear at practice with a van full of clothing to hand out. If you still owe money for a shirt, I have emailed you already. You can pay me at practice, or to one of the sorters when you pick them up. Make sure we know who you are so you can get credit and get your athlete's shirt.

Once the shirts and sweatshirts have been worn, they are yours to keep. Please put your name in the sweatshirts. Lost and found is big enough without orphaned team sweatshirts.

We can try to swap up or down a shirt size if you mis-judged or if your athlete grew (or shrunk?), but your selection is limited to whatever surplus we have on hand. We can only accept new, unworn shirts in exchange.

I ordered a few extra sweatshirts in youth and adult sizes, if you or your athlete is feeling the pangs of peer pressure. They are $30, and again, they'll be from our surplus inventory. You'll be glad you have them for those cool mornings at the track.
  • Practices this week
We use as much sunshine as we can get: practices go from 5:00 until 6:05pm this Tuesday and Thursday.

Please remember to meet in the middle section of the stands, out of the way of the high school team.
  • Full refund period is over
If your athlete is still unsure about track, be aware that withdrawing from the team will only net you a 50% refund of the enrollment fees until March 16. Uniforms and sweatshirts are non-refundable after they are handed out.

After March 16, there are no refunds. I will still need to know if you are leaving the team, though.


I think that's more than enough for this week -- see you at the track!