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, 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 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.