View Full Version : a nice problem to have ...but...

Ken Sayles
01-07-2014, 02:01 PM
Let me say right from the start this is a nice problem to have but neverthless I would love to get some
input and help on how to deal with it. The last two years Ive had some very difficult choices to make
regarding our lineup going forward to cif and state. At our 7/8 some injury, illness, coming back etc have
clouded the picture and personally its been very difficult. We have tried to go with the "best chance
to score" justification and have basically given benefit of doubt to someone with one "bad"race or
one "bad" race due to illness or injury. The athletes and parents have handled it pretty well I have been
a wreck.

Ideally Id like to consider having a clear policy or guidelines , but I dont know if thats possible.

Do you have a policy or procedures about who is in and who isnt?
What criteria do you use? Is it published? Do athletes or parents have input ahead of time into the policy?
thanks so much in advance for your wisdom

Ken Sayles
Capistrano Valley High Lady Cougars

01-07-2014, 05:24 PM
Personally, I don't think clear cut policies with that decision always works out. It is a sucky situation (we have been in it twice), but you play it by ear and trust your gut. The other thing we do is run it by the athletes, so they know there is a change to the plan. In a sense, the team chemistry is important and knowing that those 7 are comfortable with toeing the line together and will in the end achieve the desired result of the team. Our first year at state we raced our number 8 and 10 guys because they were killing it in the workouts leading up to state, meanwhile out 6 and 7 were not. We didn't feel like we would be at a loss by trading them out, but if they happen to do well it could benefit and it did. Straight guidelines or policies would have under normal circumstances cut out our 10th guy, but he was our 5th at state that year.

I guess in regards to criteria, I like to look at A. Who is the most hungry for it (Some athletes think they are safe because they finished within top 7 at league and get lazy) B. Killing it in the workouts leading up to the build up and during championship time. I always recommend my kids, especially alternates, to do Footlocker just in case they don't make that state team but may have a shot. C. Consistency, is a big one for me. It is hard to predict someone who is on and off, but someone who is consistent with their workouts and races can usually pull off that big surprise race when it matters most. I hope that was helpful.

Jose Lara
Jurupa Hills
Assistant Cross Country
Head Distance for Track

01-07-2014, 11:52 PM
in my opinion, having a "published" rule/policy may paint you into a corner. while you want to be transparent about your choices and reasons, in my experience every situation has proved to be completely unique unto itself and would defy any hard and fast logic. under some circumstances, the team may have some input; under others, team chemistry may be more important than a few seconds; under other circumstances, the team may be the last people i'd look to for input.

i have half-jokingly--which means half-seriously, too--told my team before that 1-5 decide themselves, but 6 and 7 are the coaches' prerogative, and me liking you matters. i explain that i have a high threshold for personality quirks (who in this sport doesn't if you've been in it long enough?), so me liking you comes down to mostly a few things: attendance, work-ethic, and teamwork.

i have heard some coaches who will weigh in favor of seniors/upperclassmen as a reward for their dedication to the program; i've heard other extremely reputable and successful programs weigh in favor of underclassmen in effort to continue to build experience at a championship level for the future. it'd be hard to argue definitively against either policy, so i'd rather remain open to both under the right circumstances. i guess the bottom line is laying the foundation over the season with athletes and parents so that by the time you get to the difficult decision they will at least respect and understand the logic and reasoning behind your decision, even if they don't agree with it.

going back over what i just wrote, i doubt i've helped you at all :)

Doug Soles
01-08-2014, 12:48 PM
Hi Ken,

This has been a problem for me consistently at Great Oak due to the depth of our program. Our #8 girl this year projected to around an 18:10 girl at CIF Finals. I went with a different girl with more experience that I believed would give us the best chance at State, and sure enough she was our #5 at State. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut, even if the #'s say something else. Of course many of the parents had views differing from mine, but the majority trust me and let it play out. The #8 girl also trusted me and is continuing to improve in the program and should be a favorite to be on the line for us over the next few years.

I spend a lot of time prepping both parents and athletes about our goals and the process to get there. The more communication the better. Here is a link to what I post at league finals time to try to clear up our team selection process for the post season meets for the parents and athletes in my program:


Anyone is free to use any part of it or all of it if it helps you. Email me if you want it in Word format so you can change it to fit your team: dsoles@tvusd.k12.ca.us


Ken Sayles
01-08-2014, 02:20 PM
thanks so much to Jose and 'cush' you reinforce my sense that this cant necessarily be exact. Doug thanks so much for the details this is the kind of thing
I am looking to do. It still leaves the final decision, often in the "gut" of the coaches as jose and cush imply and yet lets the parents and athletes see clearly
what goes into these decisions once they are made.

keep those replies coming!!