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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Sacred Heart’s philosophy about volleyball?

Sacred Heart Athletics strives to consistently field quality competitive teams, while at the same time creating a positive life experience for each and every student-athlete.  Or stated another way, the “Dual-Goal” of the department and our coaches is to win (goal #1), but even more importantly use sports to teach positive character traits and life lessons to our young athletes (goal #2). Our program focuses on the fundamentals of the game, teaching skills that are valuable at any level.  It also provides the opportunity to play fun, high-quality volleyball with your friends and in front of a crowd of supportive, cheering, family and friends.  In short, it provides an opportunity for a life experience in the area of sports that simply may not be available to many children as they move into high school and beyond.


What grades can participate in Sacred Heart Volleyball?

The Catholic Schools Athletic League (CSAL), which is the governing body for all Denver-area catholic school sports, organizes 3 leagues for girls volleyball. They are: Varsity for grades 7th and 8th, Junior Varsity for grades 5th and 6th, and Widgets for grades 3rd and 4th.  Within Varsity and Junior Varsity there are up to four Divisions or levels, with Division 1 being the highest and most competitive. Widgets generally has two or three levels with teams being placed into a level after 3 or 4 preliminary games. For Boys volleyball there is no Widgets League, only JV and Varsity.


Are there tryouts to make the teams?

No. Sacred Heart of Jesus prides itself on the fact that there are no tryouts and that every child that wants to participate will get on a team.  While this has lead to an ever-expanding number of teams and participants, and in turn to a continued expansion of the financial needs of the Athletic Department, this no tryout philosophy is a cornerstone of the school and Athletic Department.


Are there any fees to participate?

No.  Sacred Heart of Jesus School does not charge an Athletic Fee for sports participation.  Because of the continued demands of increased team counts and participation, this policy is reviewed regularly.  The ability to continue without a fee in the future will be directly dependant on the Athletic Department’s ability to generate operating cash flow and capital purchases (uniforms, equipment, facility upgrades, etc) through fundraisers, donations, and direct parent, alumni, and sponsor support.


How many teams will there be at each level?

This depends on the number of players signed up.  CSAL rules state “schools participating are expected to meet the minimum number of players (number on team + three) required for each sport.”  This is a key factor in determining the final number of teams - for volleyball that translates to a minimum of 9 players per team.  Typically SHJ fields one or two teams at each level.


How are individual teams determined?

The coaches and the Athletic Director determine the make up of the individual teams.  The creation of teams is more art than science, but coaches and the Athletic Department assess many factors in determining team make up.  They include: grade, age, experience, maturity, skill level, along with the paramount consideration – where will this player derive the most benefit and growth.  SHJ teams are divided into a Red Team, a White Team, and if need be a Gold Team, with the Red team playing at the most competitive level.  In our competitive, sports-oriented society parents sometimes make the mistake of looking at team placement from a very myopic perspective – the child makes the top level team that’s good, the child makes any another team that is bad or a failure.  Ironically, this perspective is far more often held only by the parents and not by the player (until of course the parent, in one way or another, passes this perspective on to the player). This parental view completely ignores the fact that through team placement: potential increased playing time, increased touches, and increased opportunity for leadership all translate to a much more beneficial and positive experience for the player – which, as we parents sometimes forget, is who this is all about in the first place.


Unique to volleyball is the fact that at the younger ages (3rd and 4th grade) we generally look to intermix the skill level of players on the respective teams.  This allows teams at this introductory level to actually experience and enjoy the game as it should be played, versus having a lesser skilled team of only younger players that seldom even get the ball across the net.  Once at the JV level, the overall player skill level has improved so this approach is not typically carried forward.


Who are the coaches, what are their qualifications, and how are they selected?

Every Sacred Heart of Jesus coach is an unpaid volunteer that donates their time and energy to creating a positive athletic experience for SHJ student-athletes.  All head coaches must be 18 or older, go through a criminal background check, and have attended the Archdiocese Safe Environment Training.  Their experience and credentials vary tremendously, but all share two unifying qualifications: 1) They Care – they all care deeply about Sacred Heart, about Sacred Heart Athletics, and about the kids they coach, and 2) They Are Willing to Take a Turn - they are all willing to make the commitment, to step up and make the commitment of time (sometimes up to 20 hours or more per week) and energy. 


Interested prospective coaches can “throw their hat into the ring” by sending an email to the athletic department ( ) stating their interest in coaching, the sport they would like to coach, the level (Widget, JV, Varsity) they would like to coach, any preference regarding acting as a head or assistant coach, background on their sport and coaching experience (if any), and whether or not they would be willing to coach a team that does not have their child on it.  The prospective coaches and their information is reviewed by the Athletic Department. If you have an interest in coaching, or know someone that does, please let us know.  We are always looking for coaching help.


What is the time commitment for players on a team?

The CSAL Girls Volleyball Season typically starts the first weekend in March and ends the first weekend in May.  The post-season tournament for all levels (all teams participate) typically runs through the 3rd weekend in May and is double-elimination (two games guaranteed).  There may be specific pre-season tournaments occurring before the start of the regular season. Participation in tournaments is optional and at the discretion of the coaches. There are no games or formal practices over the Spring (Easter) Break.  Typically a team plays between 8 –12 games during the regular season and usually has one or two games per week. Games take approximately an hour and players are expected to show up 20-45 minutes before game time (coach specific). Varsity and JV games can occur on any day of the week except Sunday (the only exception to the no-play on Sunday rule would be the occasional tournament). Widget games are primarily on Friday night and Saturday, with occasional Thursday night games.


In terms of practices - at the Varsity level you can expect two 2-hour practices during the week with the possibility of an occasional weekend practice.    For JV expect two 2-hour weekday practices per week.  For Widgets expect one 2-hour weekday practice per week with the possibility of an occasional second practice particularly early in the season.  Practices generally start the last week of February and run through the end of the tournament. Weekday practices start at 3:00PM, 5:00PM, or 7:00PM (Widgets are 3:00PM or 5:00PM only) depending on the practice slot your team has been assigned. Your coach or team manager will let you know what your practice schedule is.


Is there equal playing time for participants?

The answer to this question is different for Varsity/Junior Varsity and the Widget League.  First Varsity and Junior Varsity – CSAL Varsity and Junior Varsity are competitive leagues.  The four different divisions allow for the competition to be more equal, but it is a competitive league and as such there is no guarantee of equal playing time.  The playing time equation is further complicated by the fact that there are no tryouts and all players are welcome, which can, from year-to-year, create challenges in team size and the associated challenges around playing time.  From a coaching perspective all coaches are trying to create a positive experience for their players.  One way coaches accomplish this related to playing time is to work towards trying to equalize playing time across the course of a season versus on a game-by-game basis. Games may exist where players get little or no playing time, followed by games where players get significant playing time.


CSAL Widgets (3rd and 4th grade) is a developmental league and does have an equal playing time provision in the rules, which is adhered to as closely as possible by coaches and officials.


Where are games played?

Varsity and JV games are played at schools throughout the Archdiocese of Denver (Denver metro area).  The farthest north would be St. John the Baptist in Longmont, farthest south would be St. Thomas Moore in Centennial, and the farthest east would be Assumption at I270 and York Street.  SHJ is the farthest west.  Typically, during non rush hour times, you can expect a 30 to 45 minute drive to away games.  For JV and Varsity, games are split fairly evenly between home and away games, so anticipate approximately half of your games will be at SHJ.  For Widgets ALL games are away games and are played at Sts. Peter and Paul (44th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge).  For all teams, car-pooling is an essential part of the program so please be prepared to both take advantage of, and contribute to, the community transportation effort in getting players to games.


What if I have a conflict with a game or practice or just want to take a weekend to go skiing?

The coaches and the Athletic Department recognize that life can often get in the way of the best planning.  If your player has an ongoing conflict that will occur throughout the season, let your coach know at the beginning of the season. The goal at SHJ Athletics is participation, so coaches can often work around conflicts if they are known upfront.  In terms of unavoidable or unanticipated conflicts, the essential thing is to let the coach know as soon as the conflict is identified so they can be prepared to make necessary line-up adjustments.  Being a last minute, or worse, a game-time no show is not a good situation.  In terms of a family weekend or other controllable events, obviously it is up to parents to determine priorities amongst all the conflicting demands on family time.  Again, one of the “Dual-Goals” of the Athletic Department and our coaches is to teach life lessons to our student athletes.  Understanding what it means to make a commitment and owning the responsibilities associated with that commitment would be one of those life lessons.  When family obligations or family decisions create a conflict, it is again imperative, that the coach be informed as soon as the conflict is identified.  Regularly missing games and practices will have a negative impact on playing time at the Varsity and JV level.  Why? Simply because it is unfair that someone that makes half the practices and only some of the games, should get the same rewards (playing time) as someone that is at every practice and game without fail.  That is certainly not teaching a real life lesson.  It is the coach’s and the AD’s job to make sure this applies across the board to all players, regardless of skill level.  For Widgets this is more of a challenge because equal playing time is part of the league rules so parents must be particularly sensitive to helping players honor the commitment they have to the team.  Something to keep in mind – Sunday is now a no-sports day for CSAL (except some tournaments) so it is wide open for family fun and hitting the slopes.


What about parent involvement - is volunteering part of my responsibility?

Yes.  All parents are expected to volunteer during the season helping with games and tournaments.  During the regular season help is needed running the clock, keeping the scorebook, doing lines, running concessions, and with set-up and take down.  The SHJSports.org website provides a method to sign up for volunteer slots during the season (See Volunteer tab on the Home page).  Each team also needs a Team Manager to coordinate communications and logistics.  Teams will not be issued uniforms until a Team Manager has been identified for the team.  The Athletic Department encourages parent involvement in all aspects of athletics, from coaching (see the coaches section above for details on how to get involved), to practices (stop by and see what your kids are learning), to games (we welcome enthusiastic positive support from the stands) and beyond.  Your commitment to volunteer is what keeps this program and our “no fees” policy going.


What if I have an issue concerning my player - who should I talk to?

A few general guidelines for parents, players, and coaches in youth sports communications:

-         Never communicate with a coach on a sensitive topic immediately before or after a game.  Coaches are focused on other issues at those times.

-         Wait at least 24 hours after a game or incident to communicate with the coach or other involved parties about the issue.  Problems are seldom addressed effectively when emotions are running high.  Wait 24 hours, cool down, and then communicate.

-         Avoid Email Communications whenever possible (for sensitive issues).  Email is an effective way to coordinate and share specific information, not to work out emotionally charged personal issues.  Pick up the phone, or better yet use email to arrange a meeting in person.  If you must communicate via email, sleep on it overnight before sending it, and consider having an uninvolved 3rd party read it before you send.


At SHJ, after literally decades of experience in this sometimes sensitive area of parent communication, the Athletic Department has developed very clear and concise communication protocol designed to effectively and quickly resolve issues:

1)      Talk to your coach.  Whether it is playing time issues, issues with other players, issues with coaching style, etc., your coach is the best and first place to raise any concerns.  Your coach is in the best position to understand your concern and to most immediately address it.


2)       Talk to the Athletic Director. If and only if you have engaged your coach in discussion about the matter and still not achieved resolution you should contact the Athletic Director.  Working with you and the coach the AD will try to help facilitate resolution.


3)      Talk to the Principal.  If and only if you have engaged the Athletic Director in discussion about the matter and still not achieved resolution you should contact the Principal.  Working together with you, the coach, and the Athletic Director, the Principal will try to help facilitate resolution.


4)      Talk to the Pastor.  You get the idea.


Trying to short cut these guidelines will generally result in much time wasted, the potential for hard feelings, and ultimately working through the process anyway.  Please, when you have an issue, talk to your coach first.  That is the person in the best position to address any team issue.


The Athletic Department welcomes feedback and recommendations on this document as well as any specific questions you may have that are not addressed here.  Please contact us or via the Feedback button on the shjsports.org Home page.