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> State of your team, Let's hear about how you're doing
stanleytree
post Feb 7 2014, 01:12 AM
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I miss hearing about other teams- Texas used to share everything, and now it's all on a secure board only coaches can register for. It's sucks, we started talking about openness and we had a few years of true transparency, then for some reason everyone shut it down one year. It's frustrating, we turned into another California with our privacy- which for years we bemoaned as paranoid. The shoe seems to be on the other foot now. I enjoy the info on the new board, but I don't know why most of it can't be written here.

Anyways, I wanted to create a thread where we could talk about our teams again. This is my second years at Dulles, and it seems people are starting to trust me a bit (I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm definitely trying). I seem to have a chance to get into the classroom this year, and I've been heavily recruiting my three World History classes- I feel that I'll have anywhere between 15-20 recruits from my class alone, on top of probably another 20 or so from the other coaches. I am a naturally excitable person, so my enthusiasm for decathlon seems to be catching a few kids. Dulles is a highly academic school- we have a math and science academy that attracts some of the best from around the district. Decathlon really speaks to a lot of these kids as a highly competitive place.

Me and the other coaches have been developing a framework for what we will do next year, and I think it'll be solid. Testing daily is key, if we're not working every night to get better we won't be what we can. Math in class, breaking up into groups with one math whiz in each group after taking a quiz. Some after school stuff here and there, haven't figured that out.

My goal is to win district, which is tough with a program like Clements up there. We don't have a lot of funds, we'll be lucky to get the focus quizzes. Hoping to go to Decathapalooza at Cinco, that would be great for the kids before District (Round 1). If we can't get focus quizzes, we're going to have the kids write questions on quizlet, use a few of them, then use that.

I hope this can all come together. Far too early to tell, but I love how many kids are interested. Soccer will be an issue come January, but we should be able to get around that no problem. How's everyone else doing?
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Guest_mrrrg_*
post Feb 7 2014, 02:36 PM
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First things first.
1. Sometimes AcDec has the same attitude of the neighborhood sandbox club (or even Mean Girls). Don't let that get to you. When most Texans left this board, it was because of the perceived tilt to to California that the national org seems to have and the opacity displayed by some Cali coaches and orgs. . Rightly or wrongly those are the main reasons most Texans left to form their own board. (The irony is that the original impetus behind the separation is no longer involved in AcDec - or at least no longer posts...a loss but a reality). That being said, the best things that new coaches can do is to keep their ears open and take from all. Advice is free for the taking or rejecting. There is no one way to succeed. Stay involved on both boards and take in what works for your team as you build your vision.
2. The hardest thing (I think) about AcDec is recruiting. When you have classes involved with grades 9-12, your natural ability as a teacher as well as your reputation and passion about AcDec are your best weapons. Students see that you are really interested and not just going through the motions. For me, AcDec is the only reason I am still teaching. (I have been teaching since 1985 and now teach upper level senior classes - all great in their own right, but AcDec is my number one - what my wife calls my mistress). Use your own personality to mold your team - but then realize that some of your best students might be the polar opposite of what you are. Flexibility is also a requirement, I would say.
3. There is and isn't down time for AcDec. We are now in what I call our Spring Training Mode - where we spend time with all those who say they are returning and master the basics. (We are in this mode because we missed state so I am not so happy this year). Spring Training is more laid back than regular practice season. We sharpen subjectives and begin to build as well as bond as a new team. When the new info comes out, we are in the middle of our targeted recruiting season. (Last year we had only one returning - so we were a very young team). This year we have most positions filled with a few 'red shirts' here and there. A few years back we made the decision to limit the class size to 21-25 - though we recruit up to 30 members. Class conflicts and life issues usually knock off about 7 kids. We usually have a get together to introduce newbies and veterans.
4. We do a variety of teaching things: we have yearlong calendars, daily quizzes, weekly relays and a whole bunch of other ideas (I had three paragraphs about what we do but they just disappeared). The key again is get the kids involved, keep them involved, and you will build a good program.
Good luck as always
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Guest_the_crazy_honors_*
post Feb 7 2014, 10:51 PM
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As an aspiring coach (I plan to start contacting high schools near by college by Spring Break), I'm happy that this thread exists. I want people besides registered coaches to get to learn about coaching, especially because in a program with hands-off coaches, students need to learn how to lead in a manner that approaches how a more involved coach would run the program. I need to keep my nose out of coaching for the next two weeks, but after that, I'll be joining the ranks of alumni coaches.

What exactly is this other Texas board?
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madcap
post Feb 10 2014, 05:25 AM
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QUOTE (the_crazy_honors @ Feb 7 2014, 05:51 PM) *
As an aspiring coach (I plan to start contacting high schools near by college by Spring Break), I'm happy that this thread exists. I want people besides registered coaches to get to learn about coaching, especially because in a program with hands-off coaches, students need to learn how to lead in a manner that approaches how a more involved coach would run the program. I need to keep my nose out of coaching for the next two weeks, but after that, I'll be joining the ranks of alumni coaches.

What exactly is this other Texas board?


From my understanding, it started as a place where Texas coaches could share scores without Californians seeing them.
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stanleytree
post Feb 10 2014, 06:40 AM
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Pretty much, yea. Which is silly. Cali doesn't care about anyone else. They have enough competition internally.

Think I'm starting to catch some kids. Made an emotional speech Friday, and when I have Shivam come talk to them, I'll catch a few more.
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Guest_Stealer of Souls_*
post Feb 11 2014, 03:25 AM
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I miss the good ol' days where people would post things 100% decathlon related, somewhat decathlon related, and sometimes just off base. I don't know why everyone left. As a Californian I didn't even know there was a concerted effort to abandon the board by Texas so that California wouldn't learn anything. That doesn't even make sense. The big three schools (basically what you're calling California) probably don't care much what is said or done on this board, or any other board so I don't know that you're hurting them. As for the rest of us who can't get past them at state, I know I like to hear about decathlon things. It's comforting to see other people frustrated by their teams, excited about the potential they possess, etc. There aren't really too many secrets to divulge: have your kids read, have them read some more, give them a test, go back to reading, and then work on subjectives. As for the state of my team, in a good year we actually have tryouts-- haven't had this "problem" in a while. The last 5 years has seen us field a full team of 9, once, I think. We have 7 this year. We do pretty well for what we do. We generally start reading together the last week of September (which is why we always look so bad on the scrimmage tests). Getting kids to work October to March is almost impossible so I don't know that we can do more. Our biggest problem is that many of our talented kids choose not to do decathlon. Sometimes because they're doing some other "fun" activity that doesn't win. EVER. Or sometimes because they enjoy doing nothing. I always hate when someone tells me this. Oh well. You run the race with the horses you have. We have a good team this year. We should have the basis for a good team next year as we have two sophomores, one confirmed junior, and one probable early graduate. Is she coming back? Depends on what day and time you talk to her. Fresno County has become less competitive. Bullard used to try. Now they just aim to have fun. Hallmark Charter was awesome, but the coach stepped aside to focus on mom duties, and Hallmark hasn't fielded a team. There's competitiveness at the lower levels, but outside of Edison and University our county isn't what it used to be, or can be. We have plenty of schools in our county with the talent level to send teams to state, but they don't try. Somehow USAD needs to spruce up the image of the contest and those who engage in it. Keeping everything all hush-hush isn't the way to encourage camaraderie and widespread enthusiasm for the program. We need to take what Abuelo must have bottled in LA and slip it to the rest of us. Every once in a while a school will pop up (Franklin, Olympian, Chaffey, Granada Hills--they snuck up and stole our 3rd place trophy on their rise to the top in 05?), but then the coach moves on (yeah we're missing you DTLA) and the program falls. Maybe Campolindo is the new up and comer in California, and the fact that they're from Northern California is even better.
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Guest_Gear_*
post Feb 11 2014, 05:13 PM
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QUOTE (madcap @ Feb 9 2014, 11:25 PM) *
QUOTE (the_crazy_honors @ Feb 7 2014, 05:51 PM) *
As an aspiring coach (I plan to start contacting high schools near by college by Spring Break), I'm happy that this thread exists. I want people besides registered coaches to get to learn about coaching, especially because in a program with hands-off coaches, students need to learn how to lead in a manner that approaches how a more involved coach would run the program. I need to keep my nose out of coaching for the next two weeks, but after that, I'll be joining the ranks of alumni coaches.

What exactly is this other Texas board?


From my understanding, it started as a place where Texas coaches could share scores without Californians seeing them.

It started as a place for Texas coaches to address Texas coaches' concerns. The majority of the posts made by coaches on this board in the past emanated from Texas coaches and frequently addressed issues only relevant to Texas coaches. On the Texas board, score-sharing is of minor importance (a lot of us do that by way of google drive). There is, however, much discussion about TAD, about the structure of the state competition, and I've been known to post about the travails of dealing with varsities. It is not a site intended to run and hide from Cali, in fact Rockwall has been in direct contact with Cali schools most of the year.
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stanleytree
post Feb 12 2014, 02:50 AM
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There is a lot of info there that would not be talked about here, either because no one would care or because it's simply things that only Texas coaches are willing to talk about on a private board. It has its use, I am just upset about it because Texas coaches were driving the conversation 3-4 years ago (Irish, Gear, Eberhard, mrrg, etc.). The discussion has been poor on here since that time.

I've got 7-8 from my class officially signed up, including a kid with a 240 PSAT as a freshman and 2 varsities with 3 that are realllllly close. We have some other really good kids from the other coaches, and I have another 10-12 that are interested. I know I can't do what we did at Pearland, there is just too much difference- less money, only a semester class, and there isn't the prestige of the program at Dulles.
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Guest_mrrrg_*
post Feb 12 2014, 01:16 PM
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QUOTE (Stanley Tree @ Feb 12 2014, 03:50 AM) *
There is a lot of info there that would not be talked about here, either because no one would care or because it's simply things that only Texas coaches are willing to talk about on a private board. It has its use, I am just upset about it because Texas coaches were driving the conversation 3-4 years ago (Irish, Gear, Eberhard, mrrg, etc.). The discussion has been poor on here since that time.

I've got 7-8 from my class officially signed up, including a kid with a 240 PSAT as a freshman and 2 varsities with 3 that are realllllly close. We have some other really good kids from the other coaches, and I have another 10-12 that are interested. I know I can't do what we did at Pearland, there is just too much difference- less money, only a semester class, and there isn't the prestige of the program at Dulles.

Start with what you have and go with these changes, maybe....
1. See if the class be turned into a year long class. Ask those in charge why it was a semester instead of a year. As back up, you might need to explain that a true AcDec class teaches more TEKS than all the other classes combined that these kids are taking.
2. If your school has a ranking point system, see how many points AcDec gets. Because of all of the intense work we do, we were able to get AcDec ranked as a local Honors credit.
3. Use your own experience to talk up the class.
4. Money is always a factor, but see where corners can be cut. Instead of using paper, what about flash drives? What about small fundraisers?
5. Prestige (which will never be what it needs to be in our state) comes with experience, and experience, and experience
6. Keep positive (not stooooopid positive, but real-positive). Set achievable goals and celebrate them.
7. Never, never, never, never give up.

This post has been edited by mrrrg: Feb 12 2014, 01:17 PM
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The Evil Dr. Cal...
post Feb 12 2014, 02:33 PM
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QUOTE (mrrrg @ Feb 12 2014, 06:16 AM) *
5. Prestige (which will never be what it needs to be in our state) comes with experience, and experience, and experience
6. Keep positive (not stooooopid positive, but real-positive). Set achievable goals and celebrate them.
7. Never, never, never, never give up.


This.
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Guest_Herohito_*
post Feb 12 2014, 09:14 PM
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QUOTE (mrrrg @ Feb 12 2014, 06:16 AM) *
Instead of using paper, what about flash drives?

I actually don't recommend this at all; computers are inherently distracting. Paper is the only way to go about it, even if AD teams have a tendency to incur the wrath of the administration for excessive printing.

In my experience: if you tell the students that they have a chance to win and act like it's true, they will eventually believe it and work harder. Winning could be winning a region/local competition, not State, and it works all the same.
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madcap
post Feb 13 2014, 04:48 PM
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QUOTE (Herohito @ Feb 12 2014, 04:14 PM) *
QUOTE (mrrrg @ Feb 12 2014, 06:16 AM) *
Instead of using paper, what about flash drives?

I actually don't recommend this at all; computers are inherently distracting. Paper is the only way to go about it, even if AD teams have a tendency to incur the wrath of the administration for excessive printing.

In my experience: if you tell the students that they have a chance to win and act like it's true, they will eventually believe it and work harder. Winning could be winning a region/local competition, not State, and it works all the same.


Some teams have switched to all iPads with some great success. Didn't Friendswood do just that last year? I remember reading a news article about it.
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Guest_melanie98_*
post Feb 13 2014, 05:33 PM
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QUOTE (madcap @ Feb 13 2014, 10:48 AM) *
QUOTE (Herohito @ Feb 12 2014, 04:14 PM) *
QUOTE (mrrrg @ Feb 12 2014, 06:16 AM) *
Instead of using paper, what about flash drives?

I actually don't recommend this at all; computers are inherently distracting. Paper is the only way to go about it, even if AD teams have a tendency to incur the wrath of the administration for excessive printing.

In my experience: if you tell the students that they have a chance to win and act like it's true, they will eventually believe it and work harder. Winning could be winning a region/local competition, not State, and it works all the same.


Some teams have switched to all iPads with some great success. Didn't Friendswood do just that last year? I remember reading a news article about it.


My district provides iPads for all our students 9-12 so we don't print resources for acadec anymore (with a few exceptions for those who still like paper). I still need a printed copy to highlight and scribble on...but my students are almost entirely paperless and it's been fine.
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Guest_melanie98_*
post Feb 13 2014, 05:37 PM
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As far as the original question about the state of my team--I don't know! I think they're studying. This group says they study best on their own so we're not holding many team meetings between region and state. We've got state in a week--I told them yesterday that if they're not studying now I don't know what else I could say that hasn't already been said. We won our region and we're getting a little better every year--just can't figure out how to really compete with the big boys at the top. We desperately want to! Just need a spy on the inside at Rockwall or Pearland to give me their secrets! tongue.gif
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The Evil Dr. Cal...
post Feb 13 2014, 07:22 PM
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They don't have any secrets. They have motivated kids who spend hours and hours and hours working.
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Guest_the_crazy_honors_*
post Feb 14 2014, 01:16 AM
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QUOTE (The Evil Dr. Calculus @ Feb 13 2014, 01:22 PM) *
They don't have any secrets. They have motivated kids who spend hours and hours and hours working.

This, but support from the school is also huge. A Decathlete from a very successful school told a teammate of mine that top schools succeed because of huge support for the program. Granted, this individual meant teachers don't require Decathlon kids to do homework, but things like getting the kids passes to take their lunches to the team room and study can make a big difference. Our principal always comes to hand out eagle (mascot) pins and wish us all luck, complete with a round of handshakes, before Regionals.

I think inviting the principal to Super Quiz was one of the best decisions my coaches have ever made. By showing administration how rigorous Decathlon is and how excited kids get about it, you have a huge opportunity to garner support.
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stanleytree
post Feb 14 2014, 01:59 AM
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QUOTE (The Evil Dr. Calculus @ Feb 13 2014, 07:22 PM) *
They don't have any secrets. They have motivated kids who spend hours and hours and hours working.


Can confirm. We just read every dang night, usually about five hours.
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Guest_Gear_*
post Feb 14 2014, 02:23 PM
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QUOTE (The Evil Dr. Calculus @ Feb 13 2014, 01:22 PM) *
They don't have any secrets. They have motivated kids who spend hours and hours and hours working.

Yep. I might also add that over the years we have shared everything that anybody has ever asked for with teams as well as individuals. One thing that is a constant, however, is that no team or individual, including some on this board, has chosen to follow our plan of preparation.

This post has been edited by Gear: Feb 14 2014, 04:28 PM
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Guest_melanie98_*
post Feb 14 2014, 04:47 PM
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I certainly didn't mean to imply that those teams at the top were there by anything except hard work. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all my fellow coaches. We are all in this together!

My statement about wanting a "spy on the inside" is more about how to work smarter...and some of the logistical questions that linger for me. How much to work in the summer? How to teach math? How much time to spend on essay? How often should we meet outside of class time? How often should we meet during breaks (esp. Christmas break)? What sort of speech topics to avoid? Which ones will score best? How many scrimmages to do? Even now...I am dealing with a team that says it studies better individually...so what do I do during class? They don't seem very focused when I just give them individual study time during class.
My students work hard too but we need to step it up to contend at state. I admire the Rockwalls and Pearlands immensely. My students ran into Rockwall at the Flower Mound scrimmage and didn't win a single thing because of it but I know it made us better. We were so very impressed!
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stanleytree
post Feb 14 2014, 05:29 PM
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There is the possibility, however, that people can be working for all the wrong things and all the wrong reasons. My junior year, we worked our butt off and placed 11th. So how did it change? We all went in one direction together- energy all going in the same direction instead of in different directions. If the team is unified in their work, what they are doing and how they are doing it, that is when it really starts to come together.

The regimen is very important- which is why we see the same teams at the top of Texas and California every year. The way the coaches have been able to direct work is good enough for Granada Hills, Marshall, El Camino, Rockwall, Pearland, Nimitz, Friendswood, HP, Canyon del Oro, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Whitney Young to have consistently good teams, even when maybe their students aren't the highest caliber they have had. I remember being around in '10 and '11 for Pearland where there were some major holes (especially in varsity), and yet they still ended in the top 5 at state. That's because even when the varsities were not as strong as they could be, they were still part of a group that worked really hard and in the same direction.
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