If you are new to track, the first thing you will notice is that the meets go on for a very long time. If it's a beautiful day and you have plenty of time, you might want to stay for the whole meet. If not, you can try to attend for those events in which your daughter/son is competing. Meet schedule: A four-month track calendar was made available to the athletes, and several hundred of these calendars were picked up. This doesn't necessarily mean that you've seen one, but it is worth asking your son/daughter if he/she has one. Otherwise you'll have to get as much information as you can from the website, or go over to the school and check out the bulletin board outside room 16. It helps to get the dates on your calendar in advance, whether you plan to attend or not, because these events will affect your daughter/son's schedule. If you have a varsity athlete, try to get to the City and Region meets. Who competes: The number of students who compete is limited in varsity and major invitational meets. (Cross-country parents, note that this is very different.) The coaches will post the line-ups a few days before each meet. You have to get this information from your son/daughter; it is not available anywhere else. JV meets are open to all athletes. They are a great opportunity for kids to try different events. Varsity and JV meets: Varsity and JV meets take place on different days in different locations. Some kids will run only JV, some will run only varsity, and some will do a little of both. Figuring out when your son/daughter will be competing, method 1: The coaches will post a schedule for events for each meet. Your son/daughter can read this information, write down the times for his/her events, and give that information to you. (There are documented cases of students actually doing this.) You may also be able to find a meet schedule on the website or on the website of the sponsoring group. Field events and running events are scheduled concurrently, although the field events usually finish earlier. Figuring out when your daughter/son will be competing, method 2: Just in case you don't get detailed information, you can make an educated guess as to the time your daughter/son might be competing. Track meets have a standard order in which events take place. (For example, the 4x400 relay is last.) If you can find out the starting time of the meet and you know where your athlete's event occurs in the line-up, you can make a guess as to when you need to arrive. It's a little like the Kentucky Derby, though the events are pretty short, so if you're late, you've probably missed the whole thing. Cancellations for weather: Track meets are canceled only if there is thunder and lightening. If it's just raining they keep going. Cost: Most meets are free, but sometimes you have to pay. The Region Meet is about $5. If you are clueless about track: Come to the meets, hang around with the veteran parents, and learn the rules and team's tales of glory. There is plenty of time for conversation and most of us are very friendly. Where to sit at meets: Anywhere you can see your daughter/son. There is usually plenty of room (except at State). It's more fun to sit in a group with other Southwest parents, plus it gives you a chance to get to know the other parents and cheer for everybody's kids. WHAT TO WEAR AND WHAT TO BRING TO MEETS


The weather always seems more extreme at outdoor track meets. If it's pleasantly cool at home, it's freezing at the track; if it's breezy at home, there are gale force winds at the track, and so forth. Be prepared. Also, if you are staying the whole time, the weather will probably change (for example, when the sun goes behind the bleachers). If you are one of the hardy souls who watches even in the rain, consider getting one of those big plastic ponchos with a hood. (A complete Gore-Tex outfit would also work.) Usually an umbrella won't keep you dry. Wear something purple or a team sweatshirt if you have it. It makes it easier to find other Southwest parents. Seating: The good news is: you get to sit down at outdoor track meets. The bad news is: you have to sit on bleachers that get more uncomfortable the longer you sit. It is well worth investing in one of those padded fold-up stadium seats (with a back) from Target. You can also bring a blanket to sit on. If it's raining, bring a towel to dry the seats off. At indoor meets, there is usually little or no seating. Food: If you stay for a whole track meet you'll probably be missing dinner. They sell food at some of the bigger meets, but you can bring your own food as well. Also, especially when it gets warm, you might want to bring some water or something to drink. You might want: Your camera, binoculars, a hat or visor, sunscreen (later in the season). FOR THE ATHLETES

Food for meets

Athletes have to bring their own food and beverages to the meets. It is tricky to time the eating and drinking around their events, but they can work that out with the coaches. Often they are hungry when they finish competing, and it can be a long time before the bus heads back to school. Some kids like to bring sandwiches, bagels, fruit, etc., but even something like a Powerbar can help. You'll have to work it out with your own daughter/son. They definitely should bring something to drink. Most of the kids bring a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade. They can also bring water. What they are allowed to wear at meets: There are rules about uniforms. This is especially critical at City Relay, City, and Region. We have had teams disqualified before because of uniform or jewelry rule violations (weird, but true). The varsity athletes have to be wearing their Southwest uniforms on the outside. That means anything else has to go underneath the uniform. They are allowed to wear gloves, hats, long-sleeved shirts, tights, etc. The coaches will help the kids decide what's best for them. (They consider things like wind drag, so be ready to see some strange outfits.) Girls relay teams have to wear the same color sports bras (really weird, but true). Rules are not as strict for JV competitions and for meets earlier in the season. All kids can wear whatever warm-ups they want at any meet. Homework interruptions: There is very little time for homework on evenings when there is a meet. This can become a problem especially toward the end of the season, which coincides with the end of the school year. Try to plan ahead. Items to keep in the gym bag: As the coaches suggested, always have warm clothes and a windbreaker ready. You might also want to add Kleenex and, once it gets warm, a bottle of sunscreen (in a Ziploc bag so it doesn't leak all over). BANQUET

The end-of-season banquet will be held on Tuesday, June 4 at 6:00 p.m. You will receive a written invitation via your daughter/son. The banquet will be a potluck and will last 3 to 3.5 hours.