Sunday, May 25, 2014

Track news for the week of May 25

That moment you've been waiting for: the final newsletter of the 2014 season!

Team Picnic and Awards, Saturday May 31, Pleasant Hill Park, 11:30-3:30

We'll get together one last time as a team to pass out any remaining ribbons from the season, and recognize athletes, coaches, and you, the hardworking volunteer families.

The picnic is potluck style, so please being a side dish or dessert to share with everyone else. Also bring something to grill for your own family if you like, and don't forget plates, napkins and utensils. There's usually no shortage of food, and the event is very informal and casual. Please, no alcohol.

We're at site #3, under the shady wooden structure next to the Teen Center and the main parking lot on Gregory:

The team will provide canned sodas and water, and the charcoal grills should be hot around lunchtime.

After lunch, we'll divide into practice groups, and then regather as a team for awards. All the lost and found will be at the picnic, and unclaimed items become our traditional team donation to Goodwill.

Volunteer deposit checks

It took us a little while to compile the final list, but if your volunteer deposit is in jeopardy, you should have received an email from me by now. Thanks to everyone for stepping up and helping this season.

If you did not receive an email from me, then your check will be run through a commercial shredder and turned into a fine confetti.

CYO cross country starts in August

Signups and practices for cross country season traditionally happen around mid-August. Coach Matt Milton heads this up. Keep your eye on the team web site and on the CC team's Twitter feed: @CYO_Xcountry 

Cross country is a great strength-building sport and a lot of fun!

That's all, folks

And that should be it for this season! I'm still looking into getting new uniforms for next season, so watch for updates on the web site about that. St. Stephen's will get a mascot as part of the makeover -- I'm leaning towards "Stallions" over "Stone Cutters," personally.

Signups for the team will be in January, practices in February, and meets will start up again in March. It'll be here before you know it, so please tell your friends and classmates about our program. I hope to see you all at the picnic, and at the track.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Reminder: Diocese meet Friday and Saturday

Just a quick reminder about this weekend's activities:

The 800m and 1600m events for the diocese championship meet run Friday night, May 9, at James Logan High School in Union City:

Please allow enough time to arrive. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to well over an hour to get there from the Pleasant Hill area, depending on traffic. It will very likely be cold there, and athletes are strongly encouraged to wear multiple layers, and even bring a blanket to stay under until your races. You can always peel off a layer if you get too warm.

# # #
On Saturday May 10, we're back at Granada High in Livermore for the parade and remainder of the events:
First shift volunteers need to check in with Gina or I next to the snack shack by 7:45 on Saturday so we know you're there and ready to start. Assignments are on the team site:
Backups need to check in too.

AM stands and staging marshals will begin at 8am, 4x100 judges at 8:15, and everybody else at 8:30. After the parade and opening ceremonies the meet will start in earnest.
Admission and spike check will be handled at the entrance gates to Granada. Our team will be set up in the away-side stands: look for the team banner.

* * *
Thank you all again for a great season, congratulations to the qualifiers, and good luck to all competitors!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Team qualifiers for the diocese meet posted

Hello again everyone,

Sorry about the hangups with the results. I have put together a list of athletes who qualified for this weekend's meet, with their marks from Friday and Saturday. I'm waiting for the final blessing from the league to publish the complete results.

Our team's qualifiers are:

There's sheets of qualifiers by athlete so you can see them all together, and in the order of events so you can schedule your weekend. I'm sure you just clicked that link right away and aren't even reading this part, so I'll wait here until you get back...

* * *

Welcome back!

I'm very pleased to see that our team has a qualifier in every event but one. That's a testament to the hard work the coaches and kids have put in all season.

If your athlete has a "1/2/3" in the "Place" column, they are a qualifier and will compete in their events on Friday or Saturday. If they are listed as "ALT" then they are an alternate. As was the case as sectionals, alternates are not guaranteed to compete.

The clerks use a pre-sorted list to rotate among alternates to fill open lanes. Please adjust your athlete's expectations accordingly. Alternates need to check in when the event is called and stay with the clerks until the race is walked out to the track or until dismissed by someone in charge in the clerk area.

Field events are run in parallel to races, and athletes must check in to the field events as soon as they are called. If they are pulled away to race, they need to inform the event judge (the person with the clipboard) before running off. This should be very familiar territory by now. Alternates should check in here, too, when the event opens.

Coaches, random athletes, and parents are not allowed in the clerk pen, or on the field for any reason unless you are conscripted, er, "volunteered" to work a job. No news yet on what we're scheduled to work.

Athletes do not need stickers at the diocese meet, but you do need to be in uniform. No look-alike t-shirts this week. Contact me if you never picked yours up for some reason, and I'll bring it to practice this week. A warm under-layer is fine, but an athlete's uniform needs to be clearly visible when they are competing.

Friday distance events at James Logan High, 6:30pm start:

The 1600m event starts at 6:30, followed by the 800m.  Athletes waiting for their events need to keep warm. One or more of the coaches should be present that evening.

Saturday remaining events at Granada High, 8:30am start:

Coaches have a meeting on the field at 8:00am sharp. Early arrival is key for everyone this week.

Again, no stickers are required, but we especially want to know if our relay teams are complete. Look for me or the coaches in the away-side stands.

The parade will hopefully get started by 8:30am -- don't miss it! -- and then the calls for the 4x100m relays will begin with the eighth grade girls race.

Please run off a copy of the program for yourself:

The order of events on page 4 is close-but-not-really to our own practice meets, and if the diocese has their usual head clerk in charge this week, I promise you she runs a tight ship down there.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Track news for the week of May 4

Sectionals complete

We're almost at the finish now. Our section 1 championship meet is complete for the season, and there's just one more to go. It was a pleasure to work with the mile runners on Friday night, and to see everyone try their best on Saturday. Like any track meet, there are disappointments and there are pleasant surprises. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day at Granada.

Preliminary results are up in spreadsheet form now and linked from our schedule page:

We're working to fill in the gaps from the mile event and get final times on the one of the races. Thank you for your patience! Once I get the final updates, I'll put these on and look for personal bests.

The top three places per gender and grade at this meet will qualify for the final meet, with fourth place as an alternate. This is true for all events except the 4x400m relay. An official list of qualifiers will come out soon.

In the 4x400m relay, the top three fastest teams overall by gender will progress -- 3 girls teams, and 3 boys teams, regardless of grade. Only two heats of the 4x400m are run at diocese: one for girls, and one for boys.

Qualifying relay teams are under the same rules as sectionals: if an athlete on a relay will be absent, tell me and their coach so we can find a substitute to run in their place.

Final practices this week

I've given up trying to predict lacrosse. They weren't on the schedule last Thursday but we got bumped anyway. They aren't on the schedule this week... so who knows?
  • Tuesday, meet on the blacktop until we determine if lacrosse is playing
  • Thursday, do the same -- and it's our final practice!
Please continue to send your athletes to practice with a full water bottle. There's only one working fountain that I know of over by the track. That's a long way away if we're practicing at Valley View or the back field.

Staying hydrated is vital as summery temperatures roll in. Sports drinks are popular but sugary: lots of plain water is always best.

Ribbons from the qualifying meet and personal best details from that meet are out to the sorters, so I would expect that we'll pass them out at practice. Ribbons and medals (!) from Sectionals should arrive at my house soon, too.

Oakland diocese championships, May 9 and 10

The final CYO meet of the season is this week, split over two days:
  • Friday is both the 800m and 1600m events at James Logan High in Union City/Fremont
  • Saturday is a parade and the balance of the events, again at Granada High in Livermore
Please give yourselves enough time to arrive at James Logan if you have a distance runner competing. Friday traffic can be challenging.

In my experience, all times posted for events are optimistic, but the meet start times are very real, so please don't arrive late and miss your event while you hunt for parking or wait in line at the gate.
  • 6:00pm start on Friday
  • 8:30am start on Saturday
Download the program from the diocese web site here:

Please pay extra attention to the order of events, as they get switched around. Athletes must report to their field events to check in when they are called so it doesn't close without them. They can leave when their race is called but must tell the field event judge they are doing so. They are supposed to write down the event and look for the athlete when that race is over.

"Tetherball toss" is the one field event that our section does not practice during the season. It's like a kindler, gentler hammer throw. You'll see it happening off to the side of the track near the long-jump end.

Saturday's meet will be busier than the sectional, and you will see many new-to-you parishes from around the Bay. A "parade of champions" opens this event where all the teams stroll past the home stands, just like the Olympics. The parade lines up alphabetically by section, so our team will lead it off.

All team athletes are welcome to participate in the parade, not just qualifiers. If you find yourself in Livermore early on Saturday morning and your athlete happens to be in their track uniform, come on by. Eighth graders will continue the tradition of carrying the team banner and leading the parade. Great photo op!

There's a little speech-making after the parade, and then the meet starts in earnest. Cross your fingers for a smooth(er) start this weekend. It's surprisingly difficult to get hundreds of children and adults to all move in the same direction on time.

Families of qualifying athletes will again be required to fill volunteer positions at the meet. I may not know our responsibilities until late in the week, so expect to be assigned to a job as needed and last-minute.

All volunteers jobs are wonderful, as you know, and the people who fill them doubly so.

Picnic, May 31 at 11:30

Sometime late this coming Saturday afternoon, all the coordinators from all the teams in the diocese will let out a collective sigh of relief. We're done! Woo hoo!

Well, nearly done...

We still have our team picnic, May 31 at Pleasant Hill Park. Awards, food, fun, and digging through lost and found -- my favorite part. Bring something to share and something to grill, and we'll have cold drinks and hot charcoal grills.

I'll send a reminder mail as we get close.

Final business

I'll review the volunteer totals with Gina and will contact you if the deposit check is in peril. Otherwise, it will be shredded into a fine mulch. The rest should be cashed this week or early next week. Our team is planning to help College Park update their bedraggled high jump equipment, and get a new surface on the track, too. Rest assured that your deposit will be put to good use.

If your athlete has unclaimed awards, the coaches will have them at the picnic. If you miss the picnic, however, we pass awards to friends and classmates who claim that they'll see your athlete. The remainder will sit on my front porch in Pleasant Hill, near College Park. I'll email those families directions so you can come get them at your leisure.

Next season

I know, we just wrapped up, but while track is still on your mind...

CYO cross country starts up in August, and the program is growing each season. Great for athletes who want to try distance, or who enjoy clambering around on the hillsides after practice. Email and web site updates will come this summer

Signups for track will roll around again in January. Practices will begin in February, and meets start in March. Please help promote our program! Talk to classmates, swim team friends, neighbors, cousins, etc.. There's bound to be a team in their home area, and hopefully it's ours. Next year, though, I think I'll schedule practice around lacrosse.

The St. Stephen Horses?

I've been advised that our plain T-shirt uniforms are neither particularly comfortable to run in nor fashion-forward. I'm considering a uniform upgrade next season into a performance-wear-style top. Old uniforms will still be honored, and we'll have a clearance sale of the leftovers. And if we're going to change the shirt, I think it's time to reconsider the art as well.

Here's the issue: St. Stephen's doesn't have a mascot! CTK is the Crusaders, St. Catherine is the Vikings, and St. Stephen is... a winged foot. A classic design, sure, but maybe not as inspirational as an actual mascot. Our poor runners in gold just get no respect.

St. Stephen families and athletes, here is your homework for the next two weeks: help think up something that can represent your parish's team. Five minutes on Wikipedia was not particularly inspiring. Evidently he's the patron saint of masons, horses, and casket makers, and I am not making any of those up. I bet you can do better, as the "St. Stephen Rocks" doesn't exactly make me think of speed. Unless we write "St. Stephen ROCKS!" which will look more like a tour t-shirt than a track uniform.

Let me know your ideas, and let's see if we can get something worked up for next season that I can add to the uniform, and demote the winged foot into a supporting role.

The St. Stephen Stallions? St. Stephen's Avalanche? The St. Stephen Speedy Deacons? Help me out here, everyone. I got nothin'.

Thank you!

I'm going to give your inbox a break for the next few weeks except for the occasional results update and volunteer assignment. Before I go into running-silent mode, I want to again say thank you to all the families, to the coaches, and to the athletes for trying hard and having fun.

I know I have asked you to sit in freezing cold, baking sun, and driving rain. I know that you worked a double shift when you thought it was going to be a single, and worked a single when you thought you could finally relax in the stands. It's a huge amount of trouble, week after week, just to watch some children run for a minute or two.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sectional meet details, part 2

Qualifying meet results are up

The raw results from the qualifying meet are posted online now, and linked from our team's schedule page:

Results for our team are posted on

Remember that athletes at this meet were placed overall in their event by combining times for all the heats run in that grade. We had many personal bests set this weekend, which is always the main goal. Qualifying is nice, but improving is better.

Volunteers for Saturday needed

I've sent out an email to families with athletes who qualified to compete on Saturday. Please help out if you can. All volunteers earn credits toward their end-of-season total, and the gratitude of myself and the league. We'll start assigning open jobs to qualifying families soon so I can get a list of names to the league.

Volunteers must checked in by 8am on Saturday. Be early! Our team gets fined for every no-show volunteer.

If you're working, please dress for the weather conditions in Livermore and the prospect of wind.

Sectional meet details

There's no fee on Friday, but there is an admission fee on Saturday. Exact change will make the gate volunteers very happy.
  • $3 for adults and high school students
  • $2 for children ages 6-12
  • Seniors are free
  • Athletes in uniform are free
  • Coaches with current CYO cards are free
Track shoes need to be out and ready for a spike check at the entrance gate.

Programs will be $1 on Saturday, for as long as they last. They tend to go fast. Inside you'll find the order of events and lists of league records in various events.

Approximate start times for the events are also included, but these are guesses at best. Last year we got behind, and then swung way ahead of schedule. Once you are at the meet, I'd stay there. Meets are unpredictable animals.

Order of events

It's a little different than what you're used to. This is done mostly to make sure athletes can get to their field events and to see if you're paying attention.

Friday night, 6:00pm start:

1600m is run: girls grades 3-5, then boys 3-5, girls 6-8, boys 6-8

Saturday morning, 8:30am start:

Run-offs, to settle some ties (none from our meet)
4x100: girls 3, boys 3, girls 4-8, boys 4-8
400: girls 3-8, boys 3-8 as usual
50: girls 3-5, boys 3-5 as usual
100: girls 8-3 (downward), boys 3-8
800: girls 3-8, boys 3-8 as usual
200: girls 3-8, boys 3-8 as usual
4x400: girls 5/6/7/8, boys 5/6/7/8 (see below)
Medley: girls 3-8, boys 3-8 as usual
Coaches' 4x100: always unusual!

The 4x400 relay is special: the top three fastest teams overall by gender will progress to the diocese meet next week, regardless of grade. This year, the girl's field is pretty thin, and we may combine all 4x400 in the girls at once. The boys' 4x400 is fuller, and will probably be split up, but again, progression goes to the three fastest boys' teams overall.

The Medley is even more special this year, as I now hear that it's an official diocese event. To the best of my knowledge, this will be run in gender and grade order.

After the Medley, the coaches from all teams come out to run a highly competitive 4x100 relay. It's like the running of the bulls in Spain, with a slightly lower chance of someone being gored. Slightly. It's not to be missed!

Field events have their own calling order, and they will close as soon as they have run through the athletes in a grade. There are parallel venue for every event, so these move more quickly than our practice meets.
Long jump (short pit): girls 3, boys 3, girls 4, boys 4, girls 5, boys 5
Long jump (long pit): girls 6, boys 6, girls 7, boys 7, girls 8, boys 8
High jump venue #1: boys 5 & 6, boys 7 & 8
High jump venue #2: girls 5 & 6, girls 7 & 8
Shot put venue #1: girls 7 & 8, girls 5 & 6
Shot put venue #2: boys 5 & 6, boys 7 & 8
Softball venue #1: girls 8-3 (downward)
Softball venue #2: boys 8-3 (downward)

Granada High is high tech

Results on Saturday will be electronically timed, and are usually posted on the big scoreboard by lane number. Do not hang out around the finish line area, as it upsets the finish-line camera and its caretakers. Final results will come later, along with awards.

If you have out-of-town friends and relations, a live streaming webcam should capture the day:

You may not be able to pick out faces, but the red, blue, and yellow shirts of our three parish teams are pretty easy to spot at a distance.

Granada is a very nice facility, and we're fortunate to be able to use it for our championships. Please show your gratitude by picking up your litter after the meet, and some extra besides.

Sectional meet details

Hello everyone -- thank you for your patience. The list of qualifying athletes for this weekend's Sectional championships is up and posted on the league's web site:

A direct link to the Google docs spreadsheet is:

A team-specific document and the full results will follow. Our priority right now in the league is getting the lists settled for Friday and Saturday but I do have the full results from our meet.

A few frequently-asked questions:

What the heck am I looking at? Who are all these kids?

This past weekend, there were three qualifying meets designated A, B, and C. By luck of the draw, we were meet "A."

The top finishers from each meet in each event are listed on these results. These are the athletes who will compete again this weekend against one another.

Lane assignments are done according to finish times and if we moved an alternate up to fill a space. Don't worry too much about what lane someone is in or why we have gaps in some races. I'll be happy to bore you with those details in person if you like.

If your athlete qualified: congratulations!

If your athlete did not qualify: darn!

If you have some who did and some who did not: good luck with child-care this weekend!

I see "Lane 10/11/12 or Alt1/Alt2/Alt3" next to my athlete: is that a lane? Are we going?

This means your athlete came in fourth at our meet, and is an "alternate" for the event. In case one of the regular athletes cannot compete, alternates are moved up at the meet. To be an alternate is to exist in a state of not-knowing. It's very Zen.

Alternates are never guaranteed to compete, but if they are able to attend the meet, they should check in at the event when called and stay there. The "Alt 1" athlete is first alternate, and will be the first to be assigned into an open lane. "Alt 2" is the second alternate, and so on.

Alternates will not know if they are placed in the event until the meet day, when the head clerk decides it's time to dismiss the athletes. I have seen alternates disappointed at the last moment when a scheduled athlete shows up, and I have seen alternates surprised at the last moment when they are placed. It's truly an unknown.

Just to keep life interesting, at the Sectionals meet, the 800m, 1600m, and field events compete with the top four qualifiers. All athletes listed in field events, the 800m, and 1600m will compete.

Why don't I see my athlete in the relay team listing?

Space reasons, mostly. If your athlete ran on a relay team that qualified, they should expect to run again, or hang out as alternates, hoping that another team won't compete and will free up a lane. If an athlete won't be able to attend, the coaches can swap in an athlete and the relay team can carry on.

I know of at least one younger girls' team that is going to be short an athlete due to First Communion activities, and some of the older boys who won't be able to attend on Saturday. Life happens.

Coaches may make relay substitutions from the same grade, gender, and parish to take their places on the teams. Remember that second graders are actually third graders now.

Substitute athletes do not need to come from the pool of individual qualifiers. Any athlete of the matching gender/grade/parish may be swapped in at the coach's discretion. This is a good reason for athletes to keep coming to practice! It lets us know you're still around.

Oh no! My athlete qualified but we have First Communion/a wedding/a trip/a thing!

If you know for sure you aren't going to make it, please let me know the athlete and the event(s) that they will be missing. If it's far enough in advance, I'll let the league know, and we'll move the first alternate up to take their place. The league's list will be updated over the course of the week as this happens, and I'll try to keep our own team list in sync.

Missing sectionals is not the end of the world, but we would like to know if it's going to happen to give another athlete a chance to step up. Again, life happens.

Volunteering? Event times and order? Admission Fees? I have a million questions!

And I have a million answers. Watch for yet another bonus email soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Track news for the week of April 27

Qualifying meet complete


That was just about as close as close could be. We had to be off the field by 2:00 for a soccer game on Saturday, and my watch said 1:45 as we were getting the final packing up completed. Thanks all around to the many volunteers who stepped up to help and those who stayed extra shifts, and to the athletes for giving it their best.

Practice Tuesday and Thursday this week

Practice is open to everyone, regardless of their performance on Saturday.
  • Tuesday lacrosse games will keep us off the track again, so meet on the blacktop
  • Thursday meet at the track
Ribbons, personal bests, and the final Seven-Up Club awards of the season will be handed out at practice, to entice you to come back and keep us company. Only four practices left!

Sectional meet Friday May 2 and Saturday May 3

For those athletes who are fortunate enough to place, I've already got your weekend plans figured out.

All the team coordinators will meet on Tuesday night to review the meet results and to place athletes in the Sectional meet this coming weekend. We'll get them posted as soon as we can. I know the wait is excruciating.
  • 1600m event Friday evening at DVC, 6:00pm
The Sectional 1600m event is held Friday evening at DVC, starting at 6pm. I will be there, and I'm sure a number of the coaches will be, too. If your athlete placed well in the mile this Saturday, please keep Friday evening free.

The order of events is typically the younger grades first, and then the older grades. Each grade will run in their own heat.
  • All other events at 8:30am on Saturday at Granada High, Livermore
The remainder of the events will be held on Saturday morning. If you're new to Granada, make sure your GPS is up to date. Construction a few years ago did away with the previous exit from 580.

Saturday events will start at 8:30, so leave plenty early and double-check your directions. There will be a line at the gate and the parking lot will fill up. It's tradition!

Athletes who have track shoes (spikes) need to have them ready to be checked at the gate. Only 1/4" or 1/8" pyramid-style spikes are permitted. I have extra spikes and wrenches to replace worn or missing ones.

There may be an admission fee at Saturday's event, but I'm not yet certain. It would be a good idea to have some cash on hand just in case. Athletes in uniform and coaches with cards are admitted free.

There's also a super-size snack shack at Granada, which (alas) does not serve free goodies to coaches and coordinators... but I do keep asking.

Granada High

Sectionals and the Diocese meet are very popular. To get a little breathing room, our team usually sits  near the end of the "away side" stands by the large ball field and shot put areas. Look for our banner on the front of the stands.

All parents are reminded to be good sports, and that officials, coaches, coordinators, and every other person working at the meets is a volunteer. Extend them your kindness and courtesy, even if they've made a decision that doesn't favor your athlete.

Always keep perspective. Your kids won't remember their marks next year, but they never forget our own bad behavior.

Granada is often windy, and sometimes chilly. If you are bringing a tent or umbrella to put in the stands, you need to arrive very early to set up in the back rows, and pack bungee cords or rope to tether it down. Coordinators arrive to setup at 7:00am if you need a definition of "early."

Here's a map of last year's meet:

Race check-ins should be in the softball field near the main parking lot entrance. Only athletes and assigned volunteers are allowed in the clerk area, and athletes can report only when their event is called. Field events are run the same way: athletes report to the event only when their grade opens.

Also, only assigned volunteers can be on the field. This is enforced under penalty of disqualification, and the league really means it. Don't risk it! Pack a pair of sport binoculars and watch from the stands.

Volunteers at Sectionals

I bet you thought you were done for the season, didn't you?

Families who have a qualifying athlete should expect a polite email about helping at the Sectional meet on Saturday. Our team will be assigned some aspect of the meet to run, and if you have an athlete participating on that day, you may get to participate, too.

Time worked at Sectionals counts towards your credit for the team, and should take you into the coveted "bonus shifts" territory for the picnic prize drawing.

Volunteers are expected to arrive early, and check-ins should be at a table along the side of the snack shack. Friday night's mile event may not need volunteers, but we absolutely love spectators and teammates to come and cheer.

I'll find out Tuesday night about our team's assigned volunteer requirements for this weekend.

Not going to Sectionals?

If your athlete has First Communion, or didn't qualify, or you have some other conflict, then your meet season is done for 2014. Please enjoy your weekends back with my blessing.

Even if your meets are done, CYO carries on. Practices go through May 8, and we still have the end-of-season picnic on May 31. No doubt this is already in giant red letters on your calendar.

If your athlete can't wait until next season, CYO has a cross-country program, too. Practice and signups are in August. Meets are on Friday evenings at regional parks starting in September. It's lots of fun, great conditioning, and perfect for kids who can't stop running. Expect an email reminder as summer starts drawing to a close.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Track news for the week of April 20

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is enjoying the break from track. Now our season starts drawing to a close.

Practice this week, Tuesday and Thursday

MDUSD is on break this week, which means that we should have the College Park track and field largely to ourselves. The main parking lot will be gated shut, so please use the loop in front of the high school for dropoff and pickup, or to park if you're staying.  

Drive slowly as athletes and adults adjust to the temporary change.
  • Tuesday meet in the bleachers at the track
  • Thursday meet in the bleachers at the track
Qualifying meet Saturday, April 26 at Ygnacio Valley High

The start of the championships begins this Saturday. Due to an afternoon soccer game scheduled at YVH, we are going to have to run a super-efficient meet. I'll need everyone's cooperation to get us done on time.

Please arrive at YVH no later than 8:30 on the 26th. We are trying for a 9:15am start time.

Although we cannot take the track before 9:00am, we can still use the blacktop, the quad area by the gym, and the grassy field for warmups. Have your athletes check in with the coaches when you arrive so they can get their stickers and start stretching.

We're going to try to get all first-shift volunteers to sign in outside the track, while we are setting up. I'm going to try to get all the mile runners from all parishes registered in advance, too.

Once the gates open, we will have very little time to get going. All volunteers need to get into position quickly, and everyone else must head into the stands. There's no camping out on the field at this meet.

If you're able to pitch in and work, especially in a job you're experienced with, please let us know. Even registering in advance as a "fill in" for a specific position will help, and veteran clerks, timers, and judges will keep us on track.

The volunteer list will come out as soon as possible. Watch for a notice on Twitter and the web site.

All official diocese events need to get done in the time allotted. This may force us to run the final relays out of order, to ensure the fastest 4x400 teams will compete. Please listen for the calls. As time allows, we'll run the Medley and 4x400s in the elementary grades.

Qualifying results: be careful!

As you are working this weekend, take extra care to print neatly, to record accurately, and to ask questions if you don't understand how to do something. All stations have a two-way radio: don't be afraid to use it! I love to come visit.

A small snag in record-keeping this weekend may cause an athlete to be penalized because we can't read a distance, or a time was copied down incorrectly. All the coordinators will gather together for a seeding meeting to sort out who will be in the Sectional championships next week. Confusing or illegible results cause untold drama.

Results will be posted after the seeding meeting, and will take a few days for final corrections and cancellations to trickle in. We'll be working hard behind the scenes to get our final list of qualifiers settled.

Missing a meet?

Starting with Qualifying, missing a meet means your Saturdays just freed up for the rest of season. (I'll let you decide if this is a good or bad thing.) We'll hope to see your athlete at practice, but missing the Qualifying for any reason ends their participation in the championship meets.

If your athlete runs on a winning relay team but will miss a later meet, let their coaches know at once so they can find an alternate for the team. Coach contact details are on the team web site:

Meets after qualifying

The Sectional championship meet is May 2nd and 3rd, and the Oakland Diocese championship meet is May 9th and 10th. Athletes need to place highly in their events to compete in these meets.

Distance events are run on Friday night for both of these meets. If you have a distance runner making championship plans, make sure you set aside Friday evenings.

Team picnic: something's missing...

We have the site, we have the date, we have lots of lost and found to give back, but what we're missing is YOU. Please plan to bring your family to the end-of-season potluck picnic and awards extravaganza.
  • What: CTK/SC/SS track team picnic
  • Where: Pleasant Hill Park, site #3 (next to the teen center): see map
  • When: Saturday May 31, 11:30-3:30ish
Bring something to grill for your family and a dish to share with everyone. The team provides ice-cold drinks and hot charcoal grills for cooking.

Coaches will have a chance to offer some parting words of advise to their groups and pass out any leftover ribbons from the season. We'll gather for special team awards and recognition, including the Super-Helpful Volunteer Families Prize Drawing. Lost and found will make an appearance in its entirety before I make our annual donation to Goodwill.

Lots of food, lots of fun -- please come share it with us.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Track news for the week of April 13

Meet #4: the end of the practice meets

Saturday was the last of our "practice" meets this season. It was a big meet, with the usual assortment of big-meet issues, but we had glorious weather and a lot of happy kids.

Now we're coming up on the close of the season, but first...

Easter break

All CYO activities stop this coming weekend starting on Holy Thursday and continuing through Easter Sunday. No matter how you celebrate spring, please enjoy yourselves, and enjoy having your Saturday morning back. I'm planning some extreme sleeping-in, followed by too many jellybeans.

Practice this week: Tuesday only

We have just one practice this week, on Tuesday:
  • Tuesday, April 15: meet on the blacktop at 5pm: watch out for foul balls!
  • Thursday, April 17: no practice
  • Saturday, April 19: no meet
Practice resumes at the track on Tuesday the 22nd. If you're in town, come join us. College Park will be on break, so you will need to use the loop in front of the school for dropoff/pickup.

Qualifying Meet, April 26 at Ygnacio Valley High

After Easter, we'll start preparing for the qualifying meet on the 26th. There are a number of differences at this meet from the ones we've held so far. In fact, there's so many of them that I've written them up online. Lucky you!

Please read through them when you have some time to spare, especially concerning how we place the top athletes. I know it's a lot to read, and I'm happy to answer questions.

Volunteer Schedule for Qualifying

We'll be able to get the volunteer schedule out as soon as we know where all the parish teams will be running that weekend.

An afternoon soccer game is scheduled at YVH on the 26th, so we may need to take some shortcuts to make sure the meet completes on time. This will be a challenge, but I think we're up to it.

Life After Qualifying

Sectionals and Diocese

Athletes that place will move on to the Sectional meet, starting with the 1600m event on Friday night, May 2 at DVC. The rest of the events will be on Saturday at Granada High in Livermore.

Athletes that place at Sectionals go on to compete at the Diocese championships the weekend after. It's another Friday/Saturday meet, and details for both weekends are on the schedule page:

The Diocese meet is usually live-streamed on the Internet, so it's a great way for out-of-town relations to see the meet.

Last practice May 8

No matter how your athletes perform at the next meets, Tuesday/Thursday practice will continue at College Park until the final meet. Practice is always open to everyone on the team, regardless of qualifying status.

Team picnic May 31

Our final event of the season is the team potluck picnic. It's Saturday, May 31 at Pleasant Hill Park, next to the new teen center. Fun and food for all, lost-and-found reunions, and some special end-of-season awards from the coaches, too. Please plan to attend!

CYO cross country

CYO has a cross-country program, starting in August and running through early fall. Coach Matt Milton heads this program up. If you're looking for a break from AYSO soccer, why not check out cross country? Practices and meets are held in area parks, and it's a very low-key program. It's also one of CYO's fastest-growing sports.

Call for coaches

A number of our senior coaches are making a well-earned exit from CYO as their own children age out of the program and head on to high school. I know I've approached a few of you this season about joining up next year in a coaching role. If you ran track Back In the Day or are a runner now, the team would be grateful for your time, your expertise, and your commanding Mom and Dad Voices. It's a great way to be involved with your kids, and to share something that you love to do with them. 

Athlete trivia quiz time: Two of our coaches ran for an area CYO team. Can you name the coaches and the team they ran for?

Keep perspective!

Now and in the weeks to come, please remember my CYO mantra: keep perspective.

The championship meets can be exiting or even stressful, but in the end, we're trying to provide a fun, fair chance for athletes to show off their skills. They've had a nice long practice season in all sorts of weather, and are prepared.

You can be prepared, too. Applaud for everyone. Console the athletes that fell short of their goals. Be kind to families from our team and from other parishes. Be especially kind and cooperative with the coaches, coordinators, and other volunteers. We're all working for the same goal.

Bring snacks to enjoy in the stands, find shade, be comfortable, and enjoy your day out.

Every child you see is the most important person on the track to someone in the stadium. Athletes will be nervous, boisterous, scared, rowdy, and excited... probably all at once. Keep perspective! They're just kids. Help them have fun by having fun ourselves.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Qualifying Meet Rules

The Qualifying meet is the first of three weekends of championships. There's a number of rules and tweaks we make starting with this meet...

Clear the field, clear the track

We have to crack down on athletes camping on the field, and coaches and parents on the field without authorization. Now more than ever: stay in the stands unless you're on the field to sign in or compete.

All pop-up tents and umbrellas need to be off the field -- set up camp in the back row of the stands, or outside the track fence.

Coaches can not be on the field shouting split times, and athletes cannot pace alongside their buddies. Both are grounds for disqualifying the athlete.

Second grade promotions

Starting at this meet, all second-grade athletes automatically become third graders. They will line up with and compete as third graders for the remaining meets. This is pretty cool news for second-graders.

No away-side sprints, no track sharing

To ensure that all athletes are getting a fair rest period, and that all timing and judging is done the same way, the 50m and 100m events will be run on the "home" side of the track, in the standard order -- girls 50m, boys 50m, girls 100m, boys 100m. This unavoidably pushes out the length of the meet.

Also, we won't run multi-grade heats, except for a little combining in the mile. Even then, the heats will be kept small and be single-gender.

Field events will close by grade

When a field event closes to a grade, it's closed. Listen for the calls. I know this is tricky with our anemic PA system in the vast open spaces of YVH. Sit where you can hear the announcer, especially if your athlete is going to do a field event.

Athletes must check in to a field event when it opens to their grade so we know they intend to compete. They can leave to run a race, but have to report back right after to finish up.

We will be periodically gathering up sheets from the field events after the final calls are made. Once the sheets leave the event, it's closed to that grade.

Here's a simplified call sheet for the meet if you want to follow along with the announcer:

Race events close, too

We can't squeeze in athletes after the sheets leave the clerks' clipboards. Listen for the calls, and don't be late.

Three individual events, maximum

The "two and one" rule applies at all our meets, but is enforced at the qualifying meet with the possibility of disqualification. Don't risk it!

Athletes may compete in at most:
  • two individual races and one field event, OR
  • two field events, and one individual race
Relay participation does not count toward the three, but there's special relay rules, too...

"Pure" relay teams

Relay teams may now only contain athletes of the same gender, parish, and grade. This means the end of mix-and-match teams, and is tough news to swallow for smaller parishes in the league.

On our team, St. Catherine and St. Stephen's athletes tend to suffer the most from this rule, but every team in the league has to obey it. It makes all multi-parish coaches equally grumpy.

Strict relay judging

At this meet, we disqualify relay teams for passing outside the zone or their lane, or for impeding other teams. Dropped batons and lousy passes are still fine, as long as they're in the zone and not in another team's way.

Extra relay judge volunteers will be stationed at the corners to help out.

Relay teams qualify as a group

This is a strange one. When a relay team qualifies, it is the team that progresses, regardless of the athletes within that team. So, if "Our Lady of Example" has the fastest 4x100 team of 5th grade girls, a spot is reserved for them at the Sectional meet. Their coach has the option to run different girls the following week on that team, if they so choose.

What this means for you: if your athlete runs on a victorious relay team but will miss the Sectional meet on May 3rd, tell the coach right away. We can try to find a substitute athlete to swap in, obeying always the team-purity rule.

In general, coaches try to keep successful relay teams together, because they've earned it. This rule lets us do swaps due to illness or other issues.

4x400 relay restrictions

As if that wasn't enough, only the topmost teams overall progress in the 4x400 event, regardless of grade. I believe we allow athletes to "run up" for this event as a higher grade without affecting their other events, but I will get clarification from the league to be sure.

This relay has sparse participation in general, so I don't think this is inconveniencing anyone.

Combined results and eliminations

Normally we place athletes according to their finishing position in their heat -- which popsicle stick they are handed at the end of each race.

At qualifying, the final placement is determined by overall best time across all heats. Starting at this meet, holding the #1 stick still means an athlete finished first in the heat, but not necessarily in the event. We don't do seeded heats at the qualifying meet.

In all events, only the top three finishes overall will progress to the Sectional meet the following week. We won't know the top three until all the results are processed by the league.

Athletes and coaches: please don't hover around the recorders' table! Patience, as they say, is a virtue. Do your best to be virtuous and not annoy the recorders and proofreaders. We'll disqualify anyone who's annoying the recorders.


The fourth place finisher in events is called the "alternate," and if one of the top three is unable to compete at Sectionals, the league has a process to choose an alternate to step in.

There is never a guarantee that an alternate will compete. The assignment of alternates into a competition position is hashed out at a coordinator's seeding meeting, and is done through a rotation process both arcane and mystical.

All events may have alternates, even relays. Specific events handle the placement of alternates differently. You'll see all the qualifiers and the alternates when the results are posted online.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reminder: Meet #4 tomorrow at Ygnacio Valley High, 9am check-in time

Just a reminder that our final practice meet of the season is tomorrow at Ygnacio Valley High. Please look over the volunteer schedule posted on the site. We always welcome volunteers on the day of the meet.
The YVH administration also wants to pass along that no athletes may be in the stadium before 9am tomorrow. We've been permitting early team warm-ups, but we've been politely-yet-firmly reminded that this is not OK.


Setup crew and volunteer check-in: You're exceptional people already, so you -- and only you -- are allowed in early. I'll see you at 8:30 tomorrow on the track. We'll open the gate for you, no secret handshake required.

Your athletes may come in with you if they would be otherwise unattended, but they need to be super, super quiet. I recommend sitting on the field while setup takes place, and NOT jumping around the bleachers. The neighbors will appreciate it.

Coaches, athletes, and everybody else: Gates will open at 9am, and you may come in then. We're still going to try for a 9:30am start, so please help us out by checking in and getting positioned as quickly as possible. If you're not scheduled to work, please give priority in line to those who are, so we know what positions have openings.

Saturday is supposed to be our largest meet yet. Please be patient, be kind, and enjoy the nice weather we have on tap. See you then!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Track news for the week of April 6

Meet #3: what a difference a week makes!

It was nice not seeing Ygnacio Valley from under an umbrella. We had lovely weather and everything ran pretty smoothly. Thanks again for your time and your help. There's nothing like a day in a downpour to help us appreciate the sunshine.

Results, ribbons, and rewards

Ribbons for meets #1 and #2 have been handed out at practice, as have personal best awards for those two meets. Ribbons for the relay meet are out for sorting now, and will appear at a future practice. I'm working on getting the relay meet's results online. Our mixed-parish/mixed-gender approach plays havoc with

If your athlete is missing a ribbon, have them check with their coaches first. If it's still missing, please email me the athlete's name, the meet date and the event ("Long Jump", "50 meters", etc.) and I'll handcraft an artisanal replacement from my stash of extras. Ribbons are given for the top three places in the heat.

The first of this season's "Seven Up Club" awards should be coming soon, too. Athletes who attempt seven or more different individual events in a season earn a patch of awesomeness. There's two meets left to try to earn this award.

Volunteer confusion and changes

We had a lot of confusion this past week about shifts, and which meet we were running, and in some cases, where the meet was being held.

All of this information is on the team web site, and this should be your first stop to settle questions of when-and-where:

The current volunteer assignments are linked from there when they're assigned. You don't need to wait for your reminder call to check them out. I'll put up a note on Twitter when we have the next assignments online.

If you need to cancel, please let Gina know early in the week so she can remove your name from the schedule. By Thursday night, we should have a nearly-final list.

Meet-day volunteers are welcome and encouraged as always. Thanks to everyone for pitching in when we need you to help the meets run smoothly.

Meet #4: April 12 at Ygnacio Valley High

This coming Saturday is our last meet before Easter. It's deja vu all over again as we return to the hospitality of Ygnacio Valley. This looks to be our largest meet yet this season, and is the last of the "practice" meets. Things get a little more serious at the qualifying meet on the 26th.

Practice this week: Tues, Wed, Thurs

We have our final bonus Wednesday this week:
  • Tuesday, April 8 meet on the blacktop at 5pm in case lacrosse has a home game.
  • Wednesday, April 9 meet in the bleachers at 5:00
  • Thursday, April 10 meet in the bleachers at 5:00
Thanks to all of you for your patience as we try to coexist with the high school teams.
Easter week

CYO activities stop for Easter weekend, starting on Holy Thursday, the 17th. There is no practice on the 17th, and no meet on the 19th. We'll start practice back up on Tuesday the 22nd.

College Park will be on spring break that week and the large parking lot will be gated shut. You may use the loop in front of the school for practice.

If you're away on spring break, we'll miss you, but have a good vacation, and don't eat too much candy because...

Qualifying meet, April 26 at Ygnacio Valley High

...the championships are coming. The qualifying meet is the first "serious" meet of the season, and we have a number of changes that we make at that meet, mostly related to relay teams and placement in races. I'll write these up for your Easter break reading.

Athletes should be thinking about what events they want to compete in at the qualifying. The limit of three individual events is enforced at the qualifying meet, so choose carefully.

Whether the qualifying meet turns out to be the final one of the season for your athlete, or the start a championship attempt, please remember that having fun is the main goal, always. Support your athlete and celebrate their accomplishments no matter how they place in their events.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reminder: Meet #3 this Saturday at Ygnacio Valley High

Hello everyone -- there seems to be some confusion about the meet schedule since we shuffled the relay meet around.

Just to clarify:
  • Meet #3 is at Ygnacio Valley High this weekend. Martinez schools are on spring break this week.
  • Meet #4 is next Saturday, April 12, also at Ygnacio Valley High
  • Easter is the weekend after: no meet on April 19
  • The qualifying meet is April 26, again at Ygnacio Valley High. MDUSD and Catholic schools are on spring break this week.
Spring break, first communion, and other life events may prevent you from attending meets -- that's OK. Life happens. However, athletes must compete and place at the qualifying meet to be eligible to move onward. I'm obligated to remind you that first communions and family trips to Hawaii are a higher priority than track meets, even the qualifier.

That said, the qualifying meet is the very last chance for you to complete your volunteer hours, so please look at your calendars carefully, and if you'll be away, be sure you're volunteering this week or next to make up the balance of your commitments.
After qualifying comes the sectionals, and then the diocese championship in May. Practice remains open to all athletes on the team, regardless of qualifying status. There will be more about these in newsletters to come, don't worry.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Track news for the week of March 30

Relay meet: the aftermath

We survived our first combined track meet/swim meet of the season. The athletes will remember Saturday for quite a while. I'm sure the volunteers will, too, and I hope you find forgiveness in your hearts.

There was no shortage of offers of help before and during the meet, and we had many hands to strike the tent and haul all the soggy equipment out to the curb. Everyone embodied the CYO spirit on Saturday, and I appreciate it tremendously. We had many new people in key jobs, and it all ran smoothly. Thanks to everyone for pitching in.

I have to confess that despite the wind, cold and rain, this is still my favorite meet... though I won't be sad to see the sun again next time.

Practice this week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

No fooling, we have a bonus practice this week. Check Twitter or the web site if rain is likely, but otherwise the plan is:
  • Tuesday: lacrosse game in the stadium, so meet on blacktop promptly at 5pm.
  • Wednesday: bonus practice, meet in the stands at the track at 5pm
  • Thursday: normal practice, meet in the stands at the track at 5pm
Meet #3 at Ygnacio Valley on Saturday, April 5

Same place, same time... hopefully better weather!
  • Setup at 8:30, done quietly to be nice to the neighbors
  • Athlete check-in and first shift start at 9:00
  • First event start at 9:30
We're midway through the season now. We have two practice meets left before championships begin with the qualifying meet on April 26.

For an athlete to be eligible to compete at qualifying:
  • They need to have participated in at least two "practice" meets on 3/8, 3/15, 4/5, 4/12 (the relay meet doesn't count, alas)
  • Their families need to be finishing up or have completed their volunteer time by the qualifying meet
If you haven't been able to attend the meets or work shifts, please make sure you're getting those done in the weeks we have left.

Hire a student this Saturday

We're at YVH again, and high school students should be available to help out:
  • Inform Gina Marks of your intent to hire a student helper no later than Wednesday
  • Pay me $25 per shift no later than Thursday: exact change or a check to CTK CYO Track
If you want to carry over an unused check from the relay meet, let me know that, too.

Meet results & being careful

As we approach the end of the season, make sure you're trying your best at your volunteer jobs, especially those involving recording and verifying the results.
  • Print neatly on the sheets and relay cards
  • Measure and mark each heat, jump and throw consistently and correctly
  • Carry the best marks into the result columns for final placement
  • Rank the athletes according to their best mark when the event closes
  • Ask for help to resolve ties if we have one
Meet hosts are told regularly that the league's data-entry team makes no corrections to the sheets. I don't get a chance to go through the results before turning them in, so the quality of the data ultimately comes down to you, the noble volunteers.

If you have any questions about how to mark something down or conduct an event, these final few meets are your chance to ask. Each event's clipboard has a sheet of directions laminated to the back, and I'm always happy to go through it with you.

Relay DQs

Starting with this week's meet, we'll be watching relay handoffs more carefully. If you are working as a corner judge, please confirm that baton exchanges happen inside the marked zone on the track (the big triangles.) Passes outside the zone or athletes that interfere with another team cause the offending team to be disqualified.

Dropped batons, sloppy or comically bad handoffs are not grounds for a DQ, as long as they are in the zone and don't impede other runners. (Impeding being stepping out of the lane, causing someone to trip, etc.)

This can be tough for all athletes -- and parents and coaches, too -- and we want to have a couple of weeks to practice before qualifying.

Lost and Found

I'm hearing several reports of sweatshirts lost or picked up by the wrong person after meets. At least two are missing as I write this, and I have two others in the collection...

Please put your name on water bottles and in all your clothing. A clever idea that I stole from another family is to use a laundry marker to write your name in huge letters on the inside of the elastic band at the bottom of the sweatshirt. This makes it easy to find your own, and to know when you've grabbed someone else's by mistake. Tiny initials on the tag get ignored. No name or initials is a lost sweatshirt, guaranteed.

The current collection is huge, and into its third Hefty bag now:

A small, soggy pile of things wound up in my car yesterday after the meet. I'll document those and get them on the web site soon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Relay meet status: the waiting game...

My hope of the storms arriving today didn't come true, so now we move into contingency mode. The forecast right now isn't looking optimistic as I type this, but I'm not surrendering yet.
I'll be up early to check the forecast, and will be out at YVH by 8am to check in person.

Please check Twitter or the team web site for status updates.

We're @ctktrack on Twitter, and messages show up on the main page of

There's three ways this can go:

Hold the meet
If these rains somehow blow through tonight, we'll hold the meet. Even if it's a little drizzly, we'll run. I promise that the athletes will not melt, and that they will remember running in the wet for years to come. Parents and coaches will remember it too, for different reasons...

Delay the start

If the tail end of the storm is passing, we can start an hour or two later. I know this means that your carefully-laid plans for Saturday may be upended, and that volunteer shifts will be confused. We'll be grateful for your help and patience.

Cancel the meet

Not my preferred option, of course. If this happens, families that are scheduled to work or have planned for a student helper will not have it counted against them. I have not yet cashed the student hire checks, and we can decide what to do with them next week (shred, return, or apply to a future YVH meet.)

* * *
No matter what happens, this storm is supposed to bring cooler temperatures behind it. If we're running at all tomorrow, all the coaches expect to see their athletes in warm clothes. Sweatshirts or jackets, track pants or sweat pants! Our uniforms are colorful, but not very warm -- we would rather you be warm.
Check the site tomorrow morning for updates.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mary Chatterton Relay Meet information

About the Mary Chatterton Relay Meet

Our meet this week is a special relay-only meet. We'll run the following events:
  • 4x100m - everyone runs 1/4 lap, just like a regular meet
  • Medley - double the distance of our usual medley, the legs are 200m, 200m, 400m, and 800m
  • 4x200m - everyone runs 1/2 lap
  • 4x400m - everyone runs 1 lap, just like a regular meet
Like a typical meet, we go through the girls' grades youngest to oldest, then the boys' grades.
I like this meet both for its simplicity, and because we form teams out of any idle-looking athletes, including across parishes. These hybrid teams are my favorite ones to watch. St. Mix-and-Match and Our Lady of Hodgepodge will be well-represented this Saturday.

This week, we will have a big, red "Free Agent" sign on the field for athletes without a relay team. Anyone waiting there may be added to a team that's a person short, or may become part of an improvised team. A volunteer or I will be stationed there to help out.

All coaches are encouraged to make liberal use of the Free Agent section when assembling teams. The point of this meet is participation and sportsmanship, no matter what shirt an athlete happens to be wearing. The more teams we can form, the more fun everyone has in the end.

Coaches: there will extra relay cards at the finish line tables. Use a 4x100 card for the 4x200 event.
A girls team may only contain girls, so co-ed teams run as boys. The highest grade on a relay team determines the overall grade of the team.

Start times at Ygnacio Valley High

Neighborhood rules limit use of our PA system until after 9am, so we shift our start times to be accommodating:
  • Setup crew will start work at 8:30am
  • First shift volunteers start at 9:00am
  • First event starts at 9:30am
Athletes may warm up prior to 9am, but it must be done quietly. No shouting or whistles until 9 o'clock. Warm-up laps and stretching before then are fine.


Rain looks like it's blowing in this week. Always check the front page of the team web site or the @ctktrack Twitter account for weather updates. If necessary, we can rain-delay the start of the meet, but I hope we'll have a nice day.

Clearing the field

Relays are complex to stage since we have four times the number of athletes to manage on the field. Teams should be on the field only when their event is called, and extra volunteers and coaches without a team need to stay clear of the sign-in area.

It is the responsibility of each team to get their relay cards to the clerk, and to stay in the staging area once signed in. Don't wander off to practice handoffs or use the restroom.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Track news for the week of March 23

Meet #2, the aftermath

Another meet is on the books. I hope everyone is getting used to the way things work, athletes and adults alike. We had even better weather, lots of volunteer turnout, and dedicated high school helpers from College Park.

There were, however, two problems with Saturday's meet that I want to bring to everyone's attention because I need your help to correct them.

1) Food and drink on the track and field - it's not allowed except plain, boring, unadulterated water. This applies to athletes, volunteers, coaches, and coordinators alike. Drink spills and dropped food ruin the very expensive track and football field surfaces, and is a sure way to infuriate the facility and their athletic booster's club.

I saw coffee, chips, fruit, sandwiches, and other things being eaten on the field yesterday. I know it's  a picnic atmosphere, but you have eat in the stands, and keep all drinks outside the track fence. This may mean eating a big breakfast before your all-day volunteer job, and grabbing a quick protein bar off-track during a slow event.

2) Unsupervised athletes - More than once I had to use my Dad Voice to usher kids off the DVC football equipment and high jump pits. Athletes were wrestling near the track while races were going on, and crossing in the middle of the track. Our insurance and first aid kit is not good enough for the kinds of disasters I was visualizing.

None of the coaches or team coordinators are able to babysit during meets. Keep athletes with you in the stands between their events. If you're working a job, use your own Mom and Dad Voices before  the meet and explain the rules. It will help keep them safe.

Happily, a solution to both of these issues is easy...

Make a home base in the stands

Everyone forgets about the away-side stands, but they are wide open at most meets. Since your athletes are only competing for about 10-20 minutes in total, why not encamp in the other bleachers and then come around the track to watch their finish?

Children, like cockroaches, prefer darkness and a regular food source. Setting up an umbrella or tent in the stands with a cooler of snacks can lure them away from trackside Wrestlemania and give them a place to call home during the meet.

Thanks in advance for your help. Starting at the next meet, we'll be more actively encouraging athletes and non-volunteer adults off the field, since we'll need the space for this special event.

Hey! Cleanup crew! Where did you go?

Nobody wants to close the meet more than I do, but if you're on cleanup, you need to stay until we're actually all cleaned up. Only two scheduled crew members and myself stuck around on Saturday to wrestle all the tents back in their bags, get all the equipment back in the boxes, gather up the lost and found, and pile it next to my car. Like setup, cleanup takes about 1/2 hour on the other side of the meet.

Starting next week, cleanup volunteers need to sign out as well as sign in to get credit.

Practice this week on Tuesday and Thursday

No bonus practice this week, we're on the usual two-day plan:
  • Tuesday meet on the blacktop by 5pm, due to a scheduled lacrosse game
  • Thursday meet in the stands by the track at 5pm
A number of athletes have been showing up late to Tuesday practices, and then give me lost-puppy expressions when they realize that their groups have already left.  

Please make sure you're arriving on time, as the coaches are eager to get the kids out on a run. For safety, no athletes may leave unsupervised in search of their practice groups. They are usually stuck with me for a rousing game of "endless laps around the grassy field." I'm the only one who thinks this is a fun game, alas.

Meet Awards

Personal best ribbons from the first meet were handed out at practice, and place ribbons (first, second, third) should arrive this week at practice. Coaches distribute these at the end of practices.

When results are available from Saturday, I'll post them on the team web site and
Ribbons will be printed up after the results are posted, and handed out at practice.

Mary Chatterton Memorial Relay meet, Saturday, March 29 at Ygnacio Valley, 9:30am

This is my favorite meet of the whole season. There are no field events this week, and no individual running events. We only run four relay events, though the meet takes about the same time to conduct.

We will form as many teams as possible this week, including mixed-parish groups, so it's extra important that idle athletes are listening for calls so we can find them. Many teams will be formed last-minute this week.

This meet is so special that it gets its own email, so stay tuned.

Meet times at YVH

Because of neighborhood rules about noise, we cannot use the PA system until 9:00am at Ygnacio Valley. As a result, we shift all our times about 1/2 later.
  • Setup crew starts at 8:30am - this is a quick setup this week
  • Athlete check-in and first shift starts at 9:00am
  • First event starts at 9:30am
I don't know the state of the construction work in their stadium, so be aware that the field entrance may have changed places since the last time you were there, either last season or at the War Path.

Students for hire at YVH

High school students are usually available to cover your volunteer shifts at YVH. The process is:
  • Contact Gina Marks no later than Wednesday of your intent so she can reserve a student
  • Get payment to me no later than Thursday in an envelope with your name and the meet date on it (March 29)
Cost is $25 per shift, paid in cash or a check made out to CTK CYO Track. I will reimburse YVH from the team funds.

Gina's contact details are on the Volunteers page of the web site:

I can be found at practice in the stands, usually looking amused. I love it when people pass me money.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reminder: Bonus practice tomorrow, plus uniforms, shoes, results and ribbons!

Practices on Wednesday and Thursday

Just a reminder that tomorrow, March 19 is one of our "bonus Wednesday" practices at College Park, to help make up for the time we're off the track due to lacrosse. If you're able to make it, practice will run for the normal time, 5:00-6:30pm and we will meet in the stadium stands.
We will also have practice on Thursday at 5:00, meeting in the stadium stands.


Uniforms are in and the Crossman family is planning to pass out the remaining pieces. Look for them as you're coming down out of the parking lot.

I'm also bringing a large bin of used track shoes (aka "spikes") to practice this week, if any athletes are interested in a pair to wear at meets. If you have a serviceable but outgrown old pair from a past season, feel free to contribute to the bin.
Meet #1 Results

The results from the first meet are up and linked on our schedule page:
Note: on the Google Docs link, we are the "DVC" meet, not the "DV" meet (Dougherty Valley)
They are also broken out by athlete on doesn't cope well with co-ed relay teams, but the individual events should be in cleanly. Let me know if you spot a typo, especially on athlete names.
Ribbons should come from the league very soon, and they will go to on of our assembly and sorting volunteers. Personal best ribbons will also be heading out for sorting. We usually hand these out at the end of practice. Remember! First, second, and third place are great to get, but the personal bests are better -- those mean improvement.

Returning athletes are the first to earn these each season, but I hope everyone earns some over the course of the season.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Track news for the week of March 16

Meet #1 all done: thank you!

Our first official CYO meet of the season is complete! Track meets are complex, with a lot of moving parts. Thanks to all the volunteers who who got promoted into new and unexpected jobs last-minute, to the coaches for all their time and experience, and especially to the athletes, who are the reason we were all there. It was a lot of fun.

When results are available, I'll post a link to them from our schedule page.

I'll also get them posted on

Ribbons will come from the league in a few days, and returning athletes will earn a personal best award if they beat their marks from a previous season. All the rewards will appear at an upcoming practice when they're ready.

Lost and Found

I can barely face it. Dozens of things were left behind on Saturday. I'm planning to catalog the pile and put it on the web site today. It's staggering.

Please make sure you label all your athlete's belongings with their name, because stuff can and will get left behind. Last season I found unmatched track shoes after meets. Who leaves a single shoe behind? Children, that's who. Label everything!

Uniforms are in

If you did not see the Crossmans at the meet on Saturday, they were doing some brisk business up in the stands, handing out our uniforms. I'm not sure how many are unclaimed, but look for them to appear this week at practice if you did not pick up your order.

Unworn, unwashed shirts may be exchanged for another size if we have one available for your athlete's parish. Once worn or washed, the shirts are yours to keep.

Extra sweatshirts will also available for sale for $30. Great for keeping warm at the start of the meet, and fashionable for parents and athletes alike.

Practices this week: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

To work around lacrosse, we have a bonus practice scheduled this Wednesday. Same time and place, with one extra day on the track to work on field events and relays.
  • Tuesday: Meet on the blacktop by 5:00pm for dismissal into groups due to lacrosse game
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Meet in the stands at the track by 5:00pm
I am planning to bring the Big Bin of Gently Used Track Shoes to the later practices this week. If you have an older athlete -- or a responsible younger one with large feet --  they are welcome to a pair of "real" track shoes, provided their coach says it's OK. They won't need them at practice, which is why all these pairs are gently-used.

I also have extra spikes and wrenches if you need to swap out wrong or worn spikes, or have loose or or are missing any. Spikes come in many shapes and styles. At all CYO events, only pyramid-style spikes are allowed, 1/4" or shorter. I'm happy to help to identify them at practice if you're not sure what you have.

Meet #2 on Saturday March 22 at DVC

It's deja vu all over again...

Our second meet of the season will be back at DVC this Saturday. All times are the same:
  • Setup crew starts work at 8am
  • Athletes check in with coaches by 8:30am
  • First shift starts working at 8:30am
  • First event starts at 9:00am
We'll be running against different teams from the league this week. The usual request about being courteous and friendly applies, as well as being on time and in place for your volunteer shifts!

Rent-A-Student from College Park

To support their high school teams, Ygnacio Valley has run a "Rent-a-Student" program for a few years. Under this program, CYO families can hire a high school student to work their shift for them, in exchange for a $25-per-shift fee.

I'm happy to announce that College Park plans to offer students-for-hire at this Saturday's meet at DVC.

To take advantage of this you must:
  1. Inform Gina Marks that you plan to hire a student no later than Wednesday
  2. Get payment to me no later than end of practice on Thursday. The rate is $25 per shift.
Gina's email address is on the Volunteers page on the web site:
I hang out in the bleachers at practice, or on the blacktop when lacrosse games are going.

Please put your payment in an envelope with your name and the meet date (March 22) on the outside. You may pay the exact amount in cash or a check to CTK CYO Track.

Reservations are first-come, first-served, and preference will be given to families already scheduled to work this weekend. A limited number of athletes will be available, so please notify Gina right away. You will get credit for every shift reserved and paid for.

The number of high school helpers is at College Park's discretion. Hiring a student is optional, but it must be done in advance. No extra athletes will be available on meet day. The $25 fee should be considered a donation, and is not deducted from your deposit, but I will write a single check to College Park from our team, which will be received with gratitude.

Future Meets

Based on the official league schedule, we will have our third meet at Ygnacio Valley High in Concord. Coming up in two weeks is my personal favorite -- the Mary Chatterton Memorial Relay Meet. I'll have more about that in next week's newsletter.

Unofficially, we should also plan to be at YVH on April 5th and 12th. Easter is the weekend after that, and we don't hold any CYO activities that weekend.

That's enough for now: see you at practice!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reminder: Meet #1 this Saturday at DVC

Hello all, just a reminder that our first CYO meet is this Saturday at DVC.
  • Setup crew starts working at 8am
  • Athletes check in with coaches at 8:30am
  • First shift volunteers should be signed in by 8:30am
  • First event starts at 9:00am
Where is it?

DVC stadium, just across the street from practice. The parking lot opens on Viking Drive.

Park in the DVC lot and come into the stadium. There's no parking or admission fees for this meet.


They finally arrived! The Crossman family have them and are planning to distribute the uniforms at the meet on Saturday.

If you aren't able to pick it up for some reason, it's OK. They will make an appearance at upcoming practices, too.

Beat the heat

Athletes and volunteers both should drink lots of water on Saturday. Only water is allowed on the track and field. Please finish your morning coffee off the field.
All other food and drink must be eaten in the stands, including sports drinks.

Dress comfortably and wear sunscreen. It can be very warm on the field: volunteers, take note. Wear good shoes and plan for a lot of standing and walking around. A big hat would not be out of place.

What about events?

Athletes register on the field at the meet. We're not as organized as swim team. :-)

Read the "How a Meet Works" page on the site, and remember this is for fun. Keep a good attitude, be flexible, and smile!

See you on Saturday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meet #1 assignments and future Wednesday practices

As threatened, the job assignments for this Saturday's meet are posted on the team site.

If you signed up to work this meet -- or can't remember if you signed up -- look through the sheets for your name. Remember that we divide the meet into a morning and afternoon shift, with a special "away-side" shift during the 50m/100m events.
  • Setup crew should be ready to work at 8:00
  • First shift starts at 8:30
  • Away-side shift will be called during the older boys' 400m
  • Second shift will start around 11:30
* * *

Also, we'll have special Wednesday practices on the following dates to work around the lacrosse teams at College Park:
  • March 19
  • April 2
  • April 9
These will be in addition to the usual Tuesday/Thursday practices. All practice times are now 5:00-6:30pm thanks to the extra sunshine. If you can make it on Wednesdays, we'll be glad to see you there.

Practice times and links to the meet details are on the site's schedule page:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Track news for the week of March 9

Hello again track families. Another long newsletter this week as we start our 2014 meet season.

War Path complete

Our first time at the War Path invitational went very well. Over half our team showed up to run in ideal weather, and I saw lots of smiles. I often say that for the athletes, track meets are like gigantic play dates, interrupted by the occasional race.

A number of other teams were represented too, giving us a preview of the season to come. CYO meets are run similarly to the War Path, minus the feathered hats.

All practices now 5-6:30pm

Daylight Savings means one hour less sleep, but it also means longer practice times. From now until the end of the season, practices are from 5-6:30pm. That's the good news.

The bad news is that College Park has a number of lacrosse games scheduled on Tuesdays. Plan to keep coming to College Park on our regular practice days, weather permitting. If a lacrosse game is going, we'll start out on the blacktop and then dismiss from there.

We also have Wednesdays to use this season, and we may start using those to work on field events or other track skills. We may reserve Tuesdays for conditioning runs. The coaches are working out their availability now, and we appreciate your patience and flexibility.

I'll post schedule updates to the web site, and send them around in email when we have it figured out.

First meets scheduled

The league has assigned locations for our first three meets:
  • Meet #1, March 15: Diablo Valley College
  • Meet #2, March 22, Diablo Valley College
  • Relay Meet, March 29: Ygnacio Valley High
I've updated the team's "Schedule" page:

DVC meets are in their stadium, just across Viking Drive from practice (but park at DVC.) YVH is on Oak Grove Rd and Treat Blvd in Concord, right around the corner from Trader Joe's.

Meet #1 this Saturday, March 15 at DVC

This is the first of four "practice" meets we hold over the season. It's a chance for the kids to apply what they've learned, and for the parents to learn new and exciting track skills. Remember that these are supposed to be fun and not stressful.
  • Setup crew should be on the field at 8:00am, ready to work
  • First shift should check in and be ready to work by 8:30am -- there will be a line, so plan ahead
  • Athletes should find their coaches by 8:30 to check in and start warming up
  • We hope to start the first event -- the 1600m -- at 9:00am
We are hosting this meet and others, so be gracious and friendly to the other teams' athletes and parents. There's no admission fee for any of our practice meets.

Here's the order of events for our practice meets, to help you plan your day:


I'm waiting impatiently for them to appear. Stay tuned...


If you're signed up to work at the next meet, first let me say thank you. CYO is completely volunteer-run, and we honestly can't hold meets without your help. Second, please check the forecast and dress appropriately, remembering to pack water for yourself as well as your athletes.

Volunteer assignments will be posted on the team site very soon, and I'll send email when they are. You should also get notification from the team volunteer reminders later in the week.

We usually have job openings on meet days. If you're available, you may check in to get assigned a postion.

Remember that we're asking families to work at least five "shifts" over the season. Families that exceed their commitment are entered into a drawing for fabulous prizes at the end of the season.
    Help! I'm new! What do I do?

    I've made a "Track 101" document on the web site that you can download and read at your leisure. There's diagrams of the layout of the meet, and short descriptions of each job.

    I plan to attach scanned copies of the paperwork to this document soon.

    For all events, athletes register when it opens for their grade, then they compete, and finally are placed (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) when the event closes. A few days after the meet, results appear online, and ribbons and awards get handed out at practice some time later.

    Event registration-and-recording happens on paper. If you're working, you may be filling out the paper, or measuring throws or jumps, or pressing a timing button. Some special people get to make announcements, or rake sand, or reset high jump bars, or retrieve shot and softballs. All jobs are necessary to keep the meet moving smoothly. Working a job makes the day pass faster, too.

    Volunteer guidelines
    • Sign in on time at the big tents at the finish line. If you don't sign in, we can't give credit -- sorry. You'll get a sticker to wear once you are signed in and assigned a job.
    • Wear your volunteer sticker so we know you're allowed to be on the field.
    • Stay at your job for your whole shift, and make sure your replacement is in place before leaving. Don't just vanish at 11:30 or if it looks slow.
    • Ask questions if you don't understand something. We will have 2-way radios at every event this season.
    Most importantly...
    • Smile and enjoy! The athletes are there to have fun, and you should, too. 
    Athlete guidelines
    • Check in with your coach when you arrive.
    • Wear your athlete sticker so we know who you are and can record your results.
    • Stay with the clerks once you sign in for a race: don't just vanish to the bathrooms or field events.
    • Ask questions if you don't understand something.
    Most importantly...
    • Smile and enjoy! There will be fast runners and slow ones, long jumpers and short ones. You are there to do your best and set your times... not anybody else's!

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Reminder: War Path Invitational this coming Saturday, March 8

    Hello families, just a reminder that we are planning to attend a for-fun meet this Saturday at Ygnacio Valley High. Here's a recap, plus some frequently-asked questions:

    What, When, and Where

    The War Path Invitational is annual low-stress, all-comers meet hosted and run by the Ygnacio Valley High School track team. We spend a lot of time at YVH -- most of our 2013 meets were held there.

    This is a fundraiser for the YVH team, and not connected to CYO. Many CYO alums go on to run in area high school teams, so this helps keep track going not just for now, but the future, too.

    Ygnacio Valley High is in Concord, near the corner of Oak Grove Rd and Treat Blvd. There's a Trader Joe's plaza right on the corner, and the school entrance is on Oak Grove, just beyond the plaza.
    • Look for me or coaches in the YVH parking lot no later than 8:45am to sign in athletes.
    • Parents may enter the stadium at 9:00am. There is a $2 admission fee per spectator, and $5 for any non-team-members who want to participate. Exact change will be welcome, I'm sure.
    • The meet is scheduled to run from 9:30-12:30. You may leave early, but notify the athlete's coach before you go.
    Attendance is encouraged, especially if you or your athletes are new to track.

    Here's a copy of the meet details from YVH:

    Do I need to work volunteer time?

    No. This is not a CYO meet, so you don't need to work any shifts at this meet. This is purely for fun, so please enjoy being a spectator.

    I plan to be in the stands with you, and am happy to answer questions about what's going on. Meets can look like a big circus, but there is some structure to them, honest.

    The kids have a lot of fun hanging out with their track friends, even when they have to stop playing now and then to run a race.

    What events?

    The running event order is very similar to CYO:

    4x100m Relay
    4x400m Relay

    The following field events will be offered:

    High Jump
    Long Jump
    Shot Put

    Coaches are sure to have opinions about what athletes should try, and athletes should be flexible and willing to try new things.

    I've heard whispering that the coaches may also run in a relay. If it comes through, I promise you that this is a spectacle not to be missed.

    What about uniforms/sweatshirts?

    Uniforms are not required at this event, which is good news, since they haven't shown up from the printers yet.

    If you have a shirt from a previous season or from cross country, feel free to wear it. If not, don't worry about it. Everyone should dress appropriately for the weather, bring water, etc., just like you do for practice.