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Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:41 pm
by NBlax
This week I received a very well considered and drafted email from Craig Hill of the Novato LC. Clearly the NCJLA is taking great strides to progress lacrosse in Nor Cal and some suggested changes are being better received than others. As I will be spending most of my day on Saturday attending the NCJLA Delegates meeting I was appreciative to hear about some of the issues in advance of the Sat meeting. Hopefully the extra few days will allow me/us to digest and process what we will discuss on Saturday.

"Dear NCJLA Board of Directors, Commissioners and Executive Director-

In anticipation of the upcoming annual delegate meeting on Treasure Island next weekend, we were hoping to receive some background information on any of the agenda items so each of the delegates can be prepared to discuss and vote on them. To avoid the knee-jerk reactions and uneducated voting, it would be good for everyone to have time to either absorb the facts or issues, maybe discuss them with their respective board or amongst the delegates themselves.

A few key issues that have come up over summer include:

1. Automated Scheduling - automated system can’t address the complex nature of scheduling given the facilities constraints as well as team make-up for each club. After many years of working through the existing scheduling structure, we believe that it is best left to each of the club’s schedulers. We understand the nature of the need to incorporate all teams and establishing conferences within the league helps define the number of games necessary to be scheduled. We are happy with the existing system and our ability to customize the schedule to suit each individual club. Most "B" and "C" level teams have parent understanding that lacrosse is recreational and therefore not requiring extensive travel. We understand that the "A" teams should be distributed as best as possible to maintain competitiveness across the entire league but asking beginning players or casual players to travel beyond specific distances will decrease participation and enrollment. Scheduling constraints that we do not believe can be incorporated into an automated scheduling program include:

o Limited available dates to schedule games due to the start and stop of the season as well as differing Spring Break schedules within each club. For example, if some North Bay clubs only have 13 possible game dates even if they play ever possible weekend date when schools are in session.

o Clubs should not try to host games on grass fields that are subject to rainouts. It is too difficult to try to reschedule games later in the season when the schedules are already full or to force teams to travel to do back to back games.

o Teams should not be forced to travel on back to back days to any distance great than a 30 minute drive from their home. For example, a club based in San Francisco should not have to drive to San Jose to play a game on a Saturday and then be forced to travel to Napa on a Sunday.

o Teams travelling any distance should not be forced to play in the first or last time slots of the day (i.e. a San Francisco team travelling to San Jose for a game should not be scheduled to start a game at 9am or 4:30pm).

o Clubs hosting games should avoid gaps in scheduling that would make the scheduling of referees difficult. Steve Walker requests not having a one hour or two+ break between games as keeping or scheduling new referees for the second set of games is too difficult. This also cuts into the financial cost of renting facilities that otherwise will be charged for times that no games are being played.

o "B" and "C" teams should be able to limit the distances they travel to games. These levels (as compared to "A") are more recreational or “house league” and we do not want to overburden new parents, parents with multiple kids or families with a lower commitment level to lacrosse, these teams should be able to limit how far they will travel to play a game.

o In the past clubs have been able to host mini round robins so that teams that are travelling great distances (i.e. Sacramento teams travelling to Marin) are able to play multiple opponents in one day. This would include hosting multiple teams on fields where the “home” club isn’t even playing but which facilitates limiting travel for the clubs involved. Novato hosted multiple games on behalf of other clubs last year.

o Each club has different goals in scheduling what teams they play at what time of the day (for example, some coaches have afternoon or morning obligations, some clubs want to progress from youngest to oldest throughout the day, some clubs want all of their "A" teams playing back to back, etc).

o General scheduling matters:

§ All game scheduling should be finalized by mid-January which allows for club parent/player meetings to take place prior to practice starting the first week of February and the ability to communicate a firm schedule to the parents.

§ "A" teams should have playoffs; "B" and "C" teams should participate in full league jamborees or local jamborees if scheduling of facilities is too difficult (we may want to talk about this at the delegate meeting to decide if NCJLA wants to take on the leadership role for "B" or "C" team jamboree).

§ We largely support extending the season through early June (with no play on Memorial Day weekend) and playoffs late May or early June.

o One option that has been discussed as a solution to automated scheduling included the idea of a master calendar on the NCJLA website where clubs can post up openings for fields which can then be the start for someone looking for extra games. That would eliminate gaps in a field's schedule on a given day. Teams with open weekends looking for a game should be able to go to a place on the website that shows who is available and willing to play.

o Local round-robin formats (similar to the girl’s game structure) are used in the Sacramento area a lot. It would be worthwhile for the delegates to have a chance to work on their schedules at the meeting or to be able to post or advertise on the website an open date and willingness to host a round-robin.

2. NCJLA Financial Issues

o Financial information has generally been light on disclosure over the past number of years. We have been provided with an annual report at the delegate meeting but would like to understand better the budgeting process for 2010-11, policies for reserves and expenditure details as they relate to the team fee components and where NCJLA intends to spend its financial resources (both annual revenues as well as existing reserves).

3. We believe that it is imperative that the NCJLA work to develop a coach-development program to educate and bring NEW coaching resources to the clubs who are having difficulty (many of the newer clubs or clubs without many east coast transplants) getting sufficient coaching staff to handle the demand from the youth players. Although US Lacrosse is hosting a Level 1 and Level 2 in Northern California (Sacramento area) this season, it is difficult to have parents commit to traveling over 100 miles to learn lacrosse. We need to make it more accessible so it is easier to recruit parents or other adults. Perhaps a regional training program with north, south, east and the Sacramento Valley as regions.

4. Enforcement of club or player infractions

o This was discussed at length last year but in light of clubs failing to respect the honor of the game as well as the rules of the NCJLA, we encourage a zero-tolerance policy towards clubs who intentionally deviate from the rules. We propose to have any club who violates any rule as defined in the NCJLA regulations or policies be suspended for the balance of the season with no playoff participation. This includes ALL teams within that club's program. Lack of enforcement will only allow these infractions to continue.

Respectfully signed,

Novato Lacrosse Club

Petaluma Lacrosse Club

Pleasanton Lacrosse Club

Rancho-Cotati Lacrosse Club

Ross Valley Lacrosse Club

Southern Marin Lacrosse Club

Sonoma Country Day Comets Lacrosse Club

Cc: Age Group Coordinators

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:35 am
by picknroll
I was one of the proponents of automated scheduling until I actually worked as a youth club scheduler and understood the process. If you have ever actually done the job for a large club you would never be pushing automated scheduling. There's always those people showing up at the delegate's meetings with the argument that they want someone to schedule their games if they are paying all that money to the NCJLA. This is a nice sound bite and easy to fall for. Don't go there. This is the first I've seen this letter that was posted, but if I was asked to write up something on my own it would look a lot like that.

Now the flip side of the argument is that girls scheduling has been centralized for years. If that works for them more power to them, but I don't think that's the right model for boys. There is a network of schedulers that have been doing this for years and it generally works. I sure hope that the NCJLA does not screw this one up.

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:25 pm
by pressureride
Just a couple of comments on pushing the end of the season back into June. Particularly for the younger players (U11,U13) that are still playing both lacrosse and baseball, moving the playoffs or championship back into June will conflict directly with baseball playoffs. This is not an issue with the earlier schedule. Secondly, we need to take into consideration that we would be asking parents to continue to stay engaged for as much as 3 weeks longer than we have in the past at a time when they are being consumed with the end of the school year, graduations, summer travel, etc.

Neither the NCS nor the NCAA push their playoffs into June why does the NCJLA think it needs to?

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:33 pm
by picknroll
Neither the NCS nor the NCAA push their playoffs into June why does the NCJLA think it needs to?[/quote:silly]

Because it rains in March while we are trying to practice and play games and it is bright and sunny in June. As you point out, youth baseball plays in June. In our club we have almost no baseball-playing lacrosse players beyond U9. Why not have our lacrosse players continuing on a couple weeks into June like baseball and take advantage of the weather?

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:57 pm
by hansel
I seem to remember watching the NCAA finals for lacrosse two years ago and then watching the U11A and U13A finals the next weekend at a couple of sunny, warm, green Diablo fields (with no Diablo teams invovled). And a year or two before watching the U15A semi's and finals at the same fields the same weekends?

When did lacrosse finish weeks before the end of school? Growing up out east coast our lacrosse started later than it does out here in Cali and we played until mid June. If baseball ends in late June with their regular season schedule why are we trying to close out our playoffs in mid May? Particularly when CYO basketball and other great sports are just finishing up in late Feb, early March playoffs and should take preferece? And for those clubs that don't have unfettered acces to ridiculous amounts of really nice, new, well funded artificial fields with lights, etc it is really nice to not have to cancel early March games hoping that you can find make up games once the sun is shining and our fields are finally dry!

And don't select soccer and youth football start practice weeks before school starts? And yet we are trying to finish games weeks before school ends?

I understand with not playing over Memorial Day weekend but the need to finish before then seems really silly! And not conistent with what has already occured out here succesfully.

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:15 pm
by NBlax
Pick, I agree with your assement that in a perfect world "auto scheduling" is a really, really attactive idea. Maybe it is even possible someday but after scheduling 100+ games a year for our north bay boys program over the past couple of years and really wanting all that email, phone, in person scheduling time back, I am not sure it can yet be done any better than our current system as you have already stated. Maybe someone can look into how other youth leagues, pro leagues make it work.

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:47 pm
by chmdave
hansel wrote:When did lacrosse finish weeks before the end of school? Growing up out east coast our lacrosse started later than it does out here in Cali and we played until mid June.

You're right Hansel...In the East we played from March to late June because there was snow on the ground in February and March and we didn't get out of school until June 25...Of course we didn't start school until September 8th either...I'm old but I remember it well...including orange balls in the snow...and blue fingers and toes...

Two Problems with extended season:
1: North bay kids are out of school in VERY early June and their parents want to be GONE.
2: I know that Pick believes we'll maintain a 12 week season and just shift it forward a few weeks. I'm sorry Pick but that's a fantasy. Clubs will extend their seasons from February and just take the opportunity to play more games. Anybody who says we should play 25 games either didn't play or doesn't remember too well...these kids will break down...we'll lose volunteers who simply can't take that period of time.

If you want to play year round call Talon...or Shaydon...or Matt...but keep our schedule of games from 3/1 to 5/25...

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:04 pm
by hansel
From the new NCJLA Operations Guide: ...
Season opens last weekend of February.
Season closes weekend before Memorial Day for U9, U11 7x7 teams, and high school teams.
Season closes weekend after Memorial Day for boys youth A and B level teams

I don't think this is on the agenda for tomorrow's delgates meeting but am sure it will be discussed.

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:25 pm
by bay.bird
I realize I'm about to take this in a direction towards a discussion topic from a few months ago, but here goes:


I checked a number of North Bay public school district calendars and many end school on June 9th. At least one goes until June 16th. I did find one private school that gets out on June 2nd. The majority of the districts I looked at get out on the 9th. This is a Thursday. By pushing the championships out two weeks after Memorial Day would be the weekend of June 11th – 12th. I think that’s reasonable considering most kids are in school until the 9th.

You mention: that clubs will “just take the opportunity to play more games” if the end of the season is pushed out. Is this a bad thing, playing more games? I thought playing games was the idea? In addition, being able to play more games in better weather and less games while waiting for CYO players to return to lacrosse is a good thing – I think.

No one has mentioned playing 25 games that I recall nor has anyone suggested playing year round. Adding a couple of weekends of available dates to play will allow teams to play more games and take a Saturday or Sunday off here and there. Some teams are playing every available Saturday and Sunday just to get 13 games in. I think playing 13 games is reasonable, especially for an older team. Again we’re not talking about 25 games – that would be ludicrous.

I agree it’s a long season. Teams are not required to start their season on any specific date. Just because the NCJLA announces that the first available date to play a game is March 1st (example) does not mean that a club is required to start then. They can start their game schedule the following week or the week after that. Pushing the end of the season out a few weeks gives more teams additional flexibility in order to give their kids the best possible experience. In my opinion, that is the goal.

Re: Youth Scheduling for 2011

PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:26 am
by chmdave
Hello Bird...

I coached a U13A team last year for a club that's known for taking care of its players and honoring the one who runs that club has an extreme bone in their body...they get it...

The point is when they handed me my schedule it had 18 games...add to that a few scrimmages...and we didn't even make the playoffs...we could have played 23 games.

I understand we adults put a great deal of time into putting these clubs and leagues together but enough is enough...

You've researched North Bay school closure but 13 games is a fantasy...If we extend this season clubs will be scheduling 20 games plus playoffs...we'll lose volunteers and our sidelines will look like triage units...