Monday, March 28, 2016

News for the Week of March 28th

Happy Easter everyone! If you're in town, we have practice this week and a meet on Saturday.
  • Tuesday practice at Pleasant Hill Middle School, 5-6:30pm
  • Thursday practice at College Park, 5-6:30pm
  • Relay meet at Ygnacio Valley High on Saturday
Mary Chatterton Memorial Relay Meet, Saturday at YVHS
  • Athletes and Coaches should arrive: 9:00am
Remember if you are signed up to volunteer at the meet and you intend to hire a YVHS student to sub for you, you need to bring me a check for $50 at practice this week. Make it out to Ygnacio Valley High School Athletic Boosters.

The relay meet is special. We have four events only this week, and they're all relays, with no individual races and no field events.

Event order is:
  • 4x100m - the same relay we know and love from practice meets
  • Medley - double our normal sprint medley, the distances are 200m, 200m, 400m, and 800m
  • 4x200m - another doubling, every athlete runs 1/2 lap
  • 4x400m - our usual and the final event of the day
Despite there being only four events, the overall meet length is about the same, owing to the general chaos of staging.

We will still run girls in an event first, and then boys, with an eye toward filling all lanes in the track for each race.

There are no limits to the number of races an athlete may be in this week. Opportunists might even be able to run in the same event twice.

Free Agency

At this meet, there is usually a special "Free Agent" loitering area set up for athletes in search of a relay team. Coaches are urged to look there to round out relay teams.

This means we'll see multi-age and -parish teams this Saturday. It's all good, and it's all for fun. The only two rules for relay teams are:
  • Girls' teams must be all girls: co-ed teams count as a boys' team
  • Teams run as the grade of their oldest athlete
If it happens that we have four kids in the Free Agent area, they will be instantly transformed into an impromptu relay team and put out on the track. This is always quite a spectacle.

Awards and Results

I have ribbons from meet 2 ready to hand out at practice this week. Personal best results from the first two meets have been assembled and will be converted to ribbons soon. This year, to make the result compilation more automated, I've made the executive decision that, contrary to past practice, the first time an athlete does an event, that constitutes a personal best and gets a ribbon!

See you on the track!

Monday, March 21, 2016

News for the week of March 21st

That's 2 practice meets down and only 2 to go! Be aware that to advance beyond the Qualifying meet, an athlete must have competed in at least 2 of the 4 practice meets. The Warpath meet and the Relay meet do not count.

Practice this week on Tuesday only (5:00-6:30 at PHMS). Enjoy the long Easter weekend. (And make your athletes do a little running!)

Our next meet is the Mary Chatterton Relays at YVHS on 4/2. You can hire a YVHS student to take your place volunteering at the meet for $50. If you'd like to take that option:
  1. First sign up for a job on Sign-up Genius, then
  2. Email Gina ( and me ( of your desire to hire, and
  3. Give me a check for $50 made out to "Ygnacio Valley High School Athletic Boosters" no later than practice on the Thursday before the meet.
You must get the check to me by Thursday at the latest: we have to get our numbers to YVH so they can find a helper to give up their Saturday for you. Emailing Friday night is too late.

Results and awards

The results from meet #1 are up at I should be faster for meets 2-4 now that I've done it once. Ribbons from that meet will be handed out tomorrow at practice (and subsequent practices). Personal best ribbons will be a little delayed, but they're coming!

Please keep in mind that all the marks are hand-timed and hand-measured by you, our fabulous volunteers. The quality of the results lies literally in your hands. No pressure!

There are some rough spots as we all learn the mechanics of timely button-pushing, tape-reading, and popsicle-stick-dispensing. The key goal is fun for the athletes, not a drawer full of ribbons. Keep perspective, and enjoy the meets.

See you on the track!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

News for the Week of March 13th

Tuesdays at PH Middle, 5:00-6:30
Thursdays at College Park, 5:00-6:30

We're on our dual-locations for the rest of the season. Tuesday at Pleasant Hill Middle School, Thursdays at College Park. Practices are 5:00-6:30pm thanks to extra daylight.

Twitter (@ctktrack) or the front page of the team site for weather updates by 4:00pm on practice days.

Meet #1 Recap

Our first official CYO meet of 2015 is in the bag! Here's what happens next:
  • Results from the meet are keyed in by the league and will be sent to coordinators
  • After we've corrected any obvious errors, they get published online
  • I'll clean them up and post to our team page on  
Thanks to all the families who helped out at the meet. Your participation was greatly appreciated.

The first meet always has a few rough edges. Meets should take a little less time each week as volunteers hit their stride along with the athletes.

Remember to keep perspective! This is all about the athletes having fun, and they had plenty of that. I checked.

Ribbons and other Paraphernalia

The league manages our meet results. The top three finishers in each race heat and field event should receive a ribbon at a future practice. Placement at practice meets is determined by grade and gender: if we combined heats at the meet, the results are sorted out afterward.

Our team tracks personal bests, and hands out special gold ribbons. Returning athletes who broke their own records from previous seasons will get a ribbon at practice. You get a ribbon for breaking your personal record, not for setting an initial PR, therefore you don't get a gold ribbon the first time you do an event.

Finally, we have a special "7-up Club" for athletes who compete in seven or more different individual events during one season. Relays don't count towards this total. There's a fancy embroidered patch that we'll give out at the end of the season.

Meet #2: Saturday March 19, Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon
  • Athletes/Coaches arrive: 8:15am
  • First event (my guess): 8:45am
Looking ahead
  • No practice 3/22 or 3/24 and no meet 3/26 (Easter week)
Volunteer News

Our Web Admin, Bem Jones-Bey, has added a Volunteering link on the website, that links to Sign Up Genius and to a comprehensive how-to doc for all the various meet jobs, Track 101. Check it out. Even if you thought you knew what you were doing, this doc will probably teach you something.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Extra Meet and Practice News

Meet #1 Reminder

  • Dublin High School
  • Volunteers, athletes, coaches arrive: 8:00am
  • First event starts: 8:30am
  • Estimated finish:  1:00pm (I'm an optimist.)

Check in with coaches at arrival to get a numbered sticker. This high-tech mailing label needs to be worn in a visible place all day to register for events and have times and placings correctly matched up with athletes.

If an athlete is dressed in layers -- recommended! -- then put the sticker on their uniform, or whatever they plan to run in.

Remember to bring water -- just water -- in a bottle labeled with your name on it. Keep your stuff together, and take it home at the end of the day! Snacks and other beverages should stay in the stands.


Athletes choose the events at the meet, with guidance from coaches. Jumping and throwing sign-ins are done at the event location, and race sign-ins are on the field near the start/finish line. There will be big signs set up for each grade on the field. Look for volunteers bearing clipboards.

Order of Events

50m – grades 2-5 only 

Sprint medley relay 
4x400m relay

Field events all open at once:
Long jump
Softball throw
High jump –
grades 5-8 only
Shot put – grades 5-8 only

For running events, girls run first, starting with grade 2 and working up through grade 8, then boys run the same event, in the same fashion. Both running and field events "open" at certain points through the meet: listen for the announcements. Running events close quickly -- athletes should report to the field to sign in as soon as they hear their event open.

Running events take priority. If an athlete is waiting their turn at a field event and they hear their race being called, they need to let the field event official know they need to leave to do a running event, then report to the race clerks to check in. They should return to the field event after their race.


Shirts will be distributed prior to the meet on Saturday. For those not at the meet, there will be other pick-up opportunities next week at practice.


Practices from now on will be 5:00 - 6:30 pm.
Tuesdays will be at Pleasant Hill Middle School starting 3/15
Thursdays will still be at College Park High School

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Track News for the Week of March 6th

War Path Recap
I hope everyone had fun on Saturday. We got a little wet, but then again nobody got heatstroke--there's always an upside. We'll try to get in more relay practice and field event practice this week so that athletes are more comfortable with those events for our next meet.

Our regular meets are conducted much the same way, but results are recorded on paper, typed into the computer afterward, and then posted online. The paper feathers are a War Path exclusive.

Uniform Pickup

Uniform shirts and team sweatshirts will be handed out at practice Tuesday and Thursday. Look for a table at the bottom of the stairs from the parking lot. They will also be available at the meet on Saturday, starting at 8am. 

We'll hand out the ordered sizes first, and then we can make swaps for unworn items (trying it on is fine.) Parish assignments are fixed, so we can't swap one parish's shirt for a different one.

Why is our shirt red/yellow/blue? Shouldn't it be blue/red/yellow?

Our team is technically three teams: Christ the King, St. Catherine, and St. Stephen. Parish assignments are done according to a sacred trinity of CYO rules:
  1. Athlete's school, if they attend the parish school, otherwise
  2. Athlete's parish, if they attend religious ed/faith formation classes, otherwise
  3. Athlete's home address
You let me know if your athlete fell under rule #1 or #2 on your registration forms. Those who aren't attending school or RE at a parish are assigned by rule #3.

It is entirely possible for public school classmates to run for different parishes, solely based on geography.  

Nothing has changed. We are still one team made of three parishes: we practice and hold meets together. Only at the end-of-season championships does it matter, and only then when we're forming relay teams.

Meet on Saturday, March 12, Dublin High School
  • Volunteers, athletes, coaches arrive: 8:00am
  • First event starts: 8:30am
  • Estimated finish:  1:00pm
Volunteers are committed for the entire meet, but athletes can come for just the first half or just the 2nd half in the case of schedule conflicts. Just let your primary coach know when that's the case.

Note that whereas dropping off athletes for practice is perfectly acceptable, for meets that's not the case. It is impossible for coaches to keep track of all the athletes at a meet and so parents should plan to stay and provide a "home base" in the stands for their kids. Food and drink other than water should remain in the stands. At some meets, athletes and coaches are also expected to stay in the stands except for athletes whose events have been called. In any case, the team will drop bags and extra clothes in one area on the field or in the stands and athletes should be encouraged to hang out there when not competing so it is easier for coaches to find them when events are called or relays need to be formed.

Looking ahead to next season, and beyond

I know we've barely begun, but we're already looking ahead to 2017. If your athlete likes CYO track and you enjoy running, please consider joining up as an assistant coach next season.

Most coaches follow their own kids through CYO, and move on to greener pastures after eighth grade. Our three parishes have been very lucky to have parents willing to volunteer their time as coaches, but we can only continue as long as we keep bringing in new ones to help out. A good loud mom/dad voice is a benefit, as are senses of humor and perspective.

Team coordinators also follow their kids through CYO, and next season will be my last. Our team needs someone to step up as coordinator in the 2017 season while I'm around to smooth the transition (assuming I've learned something about the role by the end of the season).

Please think about it!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Volunteer News

Volunteer Jobs Update

New and exciting changes for this season!

Our Division Coordinator has assigned the volunteer jobs for ALL parishes. This has streamlined the volunteer assignments for all teams and also brings notable changes.

Our volunteer shifts are for the duration of the meet. We had been the only parish that had split every shift and now we are consistent with the other teams. We will still have some half shifts, but most of our shifts are from the beginning of the meet to until the event closes.

Where is the Middle Shift?
The new assignments did not include any middle shifts. So far we only have one meet with a middle shift, Meet #2 and hopefully Meet#3.

What is a Middle Shift?
The Away Side of the track where either the boys or girls run the 50m/100m simultaneously with the Home Side of the track.

How does this affect you?
With no middle shift, this has reduced our volunteer requirement 5 shifts to 4 shifts (equals 2 meets in new format). But, if we regain those middle shifts, we will need volunteers to fill them.  

Do I really have to volunteer ALL Day?
You only work until your event closes. In past seasons, parents would sign up for a double shift and split it. Ygnacio Valley High School will also have the “Rent a Student”, where you can pay a high school track student to work for you. This is a fundraiser for their track team. I will send more info about renting a student when it becomes available.

When and how do I sign up?
Sign Up Genius is set to go live this Friday at 6 am for ALL the meets. Look for Sign Up Genius emails with a link to each meet.

Thank you for donating your time and talent. CYO Track and Field is 100% volunteer fueled and would not be possible without your support.

God Bless You,
Gina Marks
Volunteer Coordinator
"You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love." – Saint Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Track News for the Week of February 29th

Practice this week: 5:00-6:05ish at College Park

Updated Meet Schedule
There should be an updated meet schedule on the website very soon. Dates have not changed, but some TBD locations have been filled in and start times are filled in. The schedule is here:

War Path Invitational
Our first meet is this Saturday, 3/5, Ygnacio Valley's "War Path" invitational. Uniforms not required: regular running clothes are fine. The team pays the entry fee for all of our athletes, but there is a charge for spectators too. We won't need volunteers for this meet, but look for an email soon regarding signups for the meets that start the following weekend.

Remember to bring:
  • Cash for gate admission ($2 per spectator) and some extra in case there's a snack table
  • Appropriate weather protection: sun hats and/or jackets, sunblock, sunglasses (or more likely rain gear this weekend!)
  • Something soft to sit on, like a stadium cushion or old blanket
  • Optionally: a cooler of healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt tubes, pretzels: nothing too heavy
If you plan to bring a pop-up tent or umbrella for shade, please set up in the back row of the bleachers so you don't block anyone's view. Pack bungee cords or tie-downs, as Ygnacio Valley can be windy, especially in the morning.

There is no smoking or alcohol permitted at this or any CYO event.
    Athletes should:
    • Have a light breakfast
    • Wear sunscreen and running shoes
    • Be on time to warm-up with the team
    • Be willing to try events and have fun
    We want to get the team together on the basketball court no later than 8:45am.  The courts are between the stadium and the school. Coaches will warm the team up and get a head count.

    The team is paying admission for our coaches and registered athletes.

    Find a seat when the gate opens, and we'll bring the team in when we're warmed up. They'll find you in the stands.

    New to track meets?

    Don't worry: meets are pretty predictable, even if they don't look it.

    Field events start when the meet begins. There will be announcements over a PA system or bullhorn calling different age groups down to participate. Events at this meet are:

    High Jump
    Long Jump
    Shot Put

    In CYO, we limit shot put and high jump to 5th graders and older, for safety.

    Athletes check in at the event when their age group is called, provided they're not already lined up for a race (or are on the track!) High jump and long jump will be visible from the stands, but the shot put ring is tucked out of the way outside the main stadium fence.

    Running events follow an order, usually done from youngest athletes to oldest.

    These stage (line up) on the field. Last year there were hurdles with signs attached per age group. The same PA or bullhorn should be used for calls for these events.

    The event order is:
    1. 1600m  (4 laps, "the mile")
    2. 4x100 Relay   (every runner carries the baton 1/4 of a lap)
    3. 400m   (1 lap)
    4. 100m   (a short dash along the straight)
    5. 800m   (2 laps = 1/2 mile)
    6. 200m   (1/2 lap)
    7. 4x400m Relay  (every runner carries the baton 1 full lap)
    A key tip: if an athlete is waiting at a field event when their desired race is called, they should leave the field event to go run.

    Running events determine the pace of the meet, and won't stop if an athlete is busy at long jump or in the bathroom. Paying attention to the calls is a track meet survival skill. If you miss your call, you miss the race. Oops!

    Which event?

    That's pretty much up to the athletes and their coaches. This week is a little looser, just to get everyone to see how it all fits together. Unless the coaches have something specific in mind, I'd encourage a go ahead and try it attitude. Cross country athletes especially should not be scared of the distance events.

    Everything will look a little rough this weekend. That's OK. Think of this as a practice, not the Olympic tryouts.

    No Parent Meeting
    I got three responses of interest in a parents' meeting, so I'm not going to schedule one. Feel free to email me questions and I'll either answer directly or in the next newsletter.