Visitation CYO Coaches Manual


The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) is a parish based program which provides opportunities for youth to grow in faith and understanding of their Church through involvement in parish, regional, and Archdiocesan life. The CYO's five phase approach to youth ministry - athletic, social, cultural, service, spiritual - is a model of youth ministry which involves youth from grades five through twelve in youth related activities and programs.

Through a total youth ministry concept, the CYO collaborates on all youth related programs offered by the parish. The emphasis of the CYO is to enable and empower youth to become responsible participants in their faith community.

As a coach for one of the Visitation CYO programs, you and your assistants have a unique opportunity to help our children grow in the CYO spirit through participation in one of the finest grade school athletic programs in the area.

Working with youth is certainly a very challenging yet rewarding experience. While you will probably be spending numerous hours throughout the season with practices, games, and tournaments, the greatest satisfaction will come when you see the healthy development of fine Catholic youth: competitive, yet respective, energetic, yet disciplined, not overly proud in victory nor completely rejected in defeat.

It is the coaches and their staff who set the general tone and atmosphere for their particular sport. Therefore, it is imperative that a Christ-centered attitude prevail. While particular situations may cause impatience or frustration, the coach is charged with being a moderating influence in maintaining civility and a solid Catholic approach.

It is the official policy of the Visitation BVM CYO that character building, not the number of victories is the primary goal of our athletic program. Coaches are to aid in the development of our children's physical potential, while at the same time refining their spiritual, social, and personal traits. While we want all of our teams to be competitive, we must first of all teach our children true sportsmanlike behavior. There is nothing wrong with wanting to win, it's needing to win that's futile.

The purpose of this Coach's Manual is to help you become familiar with some of the responsibilities of your position as well as outline the expectations of a Visitation BVM coach.

May the grace of God continuously shine upon you as you lead our youth in this athletic phase of our CYO program. The Priest Moderator reserves the right to modify any policy stated within coach's manual.


Appointment Guidelines for Visitation B.V.M. Head Coaching Positions (Effective  6/13)

At least 6 weeks before tryouts, all  head coaching positions will be posted in the Visitation B.V.M. Sunday church bulletin.

Anyone interested in volunteering for a   head coaching position must complete and submit the following information to the Athletic Director Mailbox at the Rectory or email the athletic directors official address (

Application to Coach in the Parish Athletic Program form;
SP4-164 “Request for Criminal Record Request”, if not already on file;
Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance, if not already on file;
Completion of the Mandatory Safe Environment Training Session
CYO Archdiocese Coaches Accreditation. All coaches and assistants must attend an Archdiocese Accreditation Program within 1 year on initial appointment, if available;
Provide three personal references, if specifically requested.

A copy of all forms can be found on the website ( under “Athletic”.

If a head coach from the prior season would like to return for the upcoming season they must notify the athletic director in writing after their season is completed but prior to the deadline posted in the bulletin for next year’s applications.  No other information is required since it was previously submitted and received.

At least 4 weeks prior to tryouts, the Athletic Directors, in consultation with the Personnel Committee, shall determine if the prior season’s coaches should return and which coaching positions will require interviews.  These decisions will be based on a review of all applicant information, including any past surveys for applicants who may have prior coaching experience at Visitation B.V.M.

Interviews will be scheduled and attended by a majority of the Personnel committee members who will make their recommendations to the Athletic Directors..

The  Athletic Director shall appoint a head coach and notify the selected applicant only after approval is received from the CYO Priest Moderator.  All other applicants will also be notified of the decision at this time by the Athletic Directors.

After the team is selected, the coach shall submit a list of all assistant coaches.  The Athletic Directors in consultation with the Personnel Committee, based on a review of the SP4-164 background check and any historical surveys, must  approve all assistant coaches. The CYO Priest Moderator shall have final approval over  all coaching appointments. 

 At least 2 weeks before a team's final game or competition, the Personnel Committee  shall distribute to all players' parents a Coach's Survey form by way of the online Survey Monkey   The Personnel Committee shall advise parents that the Coach's Survey form is anonymous and their identity will only be known if they wish it.    They will also encourage the completion of the surveys by all parents in order to assist in providing necessary feedback for the improvement of the program.  An incentive program may be instituted by the board in order to further encourage the completion of the surveys.

Within 8 weeks after the conclusion of a sport's season, the Athletic Director and Personnel Committee shall meet to review all completed Coach's Surveys and any other information received from parent representatives or from any Board Member's personal observation. At the conclusion of a coach's review, the Athletic Director shall advise the coach of the survey results as well as any other issues which occurred during the season.

Explanatory Note: Participation, as a head coach in the Visitation BVM CYO organization is strictly on a volunteer basis. All efforts will be made to follow these guidelines but the CYO Board recognizes that circumstance do exist that may preclude the timeframes set forth in this document. The selection of coaches will not be based solely on the applicant's knowledge of sports, but also as a potential youth minister who will reflect and model good Christian values.



With regards to the various athletic teams it has been Visitation CYO philosophy that there should be differences between the Varsity and JV level of sports.  The JV sports should be more focused on teaching the fundamentals of the sport and less on winning.  Coaches should be trying as much as possible to get equal playing time for all participants over the course of the season and allowing for the playing of different positions, if possible.  However, equal playing time will not be required for tournaments or playoffs.

Varsity sports are expected to be more competitive and focused on winning, within the boundaries of sportsmanship and the CYO mission.  Equal playing time is not a requirement at the varsity level.  Coaches will have the final decision on all positioning and playing time.


As you are aware, the CYO Board has rules regarding student eligibility. This is a brief summary of certain duties which coaches must perform to ensure proper student compliance.

Any student who has been suspended from any sport activity during this academic year may only participate if the Dean of Human Development has approved that student's participation. (This paragraph applies only to students who were removed from a team, not students with progress reports alone).
All PREP students must be actively enrolled, attending, and participating in the Visitation PREP Program.  To complete the PREP program each student must have no more than three (3) absences per academic year.
All PREP students must provide the Dean of Human Development with a copy of that student's report card upon request.  Failure to respond to the request could result in suspension of the student’s participation in all CYO activities.  Upon request the Principal of Visitation will provide the Dean a list of all Visitation students who have received failing grades on their report cards.  Any student with failing grades can be suspended from CYO activities upon notification of the student’s parents and the Coach by the Dean of Human Development in accordance with the applicable guidelines.     
Coaches must remember that they as coaches have the responsibility to report any participant misconduct by providing a Delegate Report to the Dean of Human Development (see attached Delegate Report), in a timely manner. Failure to report misconduct by students, coaches and/or parents will be grounds for disciplinary action.  Coaches must also be aware that as a coach, you have the authority to discipline and/or suspend any participant so long as you provide the participant's parent(s) with a Request for Review Form (see attached).

If you have any questions regarding any information contained in this packet, please do not hesitate to contact the Dean of Human Development. If you have any questions during the season involving eligibility or disciplinary action, please do not hesitate to contact the Dean of Human Development via email at the address contained on the CYO website.

Background Check:

All coaches and assistants will undergo a background check by submitting form SP4-164 to the PA State Police as well as a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Form. Results are to be returned to the Priest-Moderator for file. Failure to satisfy the background check requirements may result in dismissal. Coaches will be reimbursed by the CYO for the fees required for these background checks.


Coaches Meeting:

A coaches meeting will be held by the Athletic Directors at the beginning of each season to establish tryout and practice schedules, review the coach’s manual, and to address any other issues necessary. All coaches are required to attend or make the necessary arrangements to meet individually with the Athletic Director if attendance is not possible.


Sign-up/Tryout dates must be published in the Sunday Church Bulletin for three consecutive weeks prior to their being held. When school is in session, coaches should arrange for an announcement and/or take home flyer to be distributed at Visitation School (including PREP students) with all pertinent information relating to sign-ups/tryouts. Tryouts should be scheduled over a two week period to minimize absences due to illness.

Since this is a Parish program, tryout times must be scheduled to accommodate both Visitation and Public or Private schools.


If more students sign-up/tryout than the maximum size allowed, the head coach must utilize a systematic method to pare the size down to the appropriate roster limit.  Use of independent judges will be required when making cuts.  No potential assistant coaches are to be involved in making team selections when cuts are required.  The Athletic Director will be consulted on the team selection process for all teams before selections are completed and the players are notified.

Results of tryouts must be made known to each child before the last tryout session is completed in the form of a sealed envelope. In no instance should a cut list ever be posted or rosters called out in public.   

Roster Size:

Roster sizes for each sport are as follows:

Football (min 22 - no max)
Cross Country (unlimited)
Soccer (min 15 - max 22)
Volleyball (10)
Varsity Basketball (12-15 at coach's discretion)
JV Basketball (min of 8)
Cheerleading (min 15 - max 22)
Field Hockey (unlimited)
Baseball/Softball (15)
Track (unlimited)
Lacrosse (unlimited)

With the approval of the Athletic Director, roster size can be adjusted by the coaches depending on the nature of the sport.

Students, who are not properly registered, with fees paid, will not be permitted to practice or try out.  All final team rosters will be completed by the Registrar and signed by the Coach, Athletic Director and Priest-Moderator.

NOTE: No student will be prevented from participating in any CYO activity because of financial difficulties. This need must be made known to the Priest-Moderator.

Team Manager:

Coaches may select up to (2) Team Managers to assist them during the season. Team Managers will be rostered with the team as the "Team Manager," are allowed to practice with the team, but are not allowed to play in any games. The duties of the Team Manager are left to the discretion of each coach (i.e. scorebook, run the scoreboard clock during practice, maintain ice and first aid kit, etc.) Team managers do not pay a registration fee.

Season Schedules:

At the beginning of each season, the coaches will meet with the Regional Commissioner of their respective sport to review guidelines for the upcoming season. Coaches should bring a copy of available gym/field time to this meeting. Once a season schedule has been established, a copy should be given to the Director of Scheduling, Ways & Means Chairman, Visitation School Principal, Priest-Moderator, Athletic Director, Program Coordinators and Webmaster.

When the Regional Commissioner schedules the use of Visitation facilities for other schools on the same day a Visitation team is scheduled to play, be sure that a Visitation team is scheduled last for that day. This will help the coach in facilitating coverage and clean-up of the facility for that day.  Every attempt must be made to stick to the schedule once it is published.

Any changes in home game schedules must be communicated to the Ways & Means Chairman so that coordination of snack stand inventory is maintained and to the Director of Scheduling to eliminate any possible facility use conflicts.

Uniforms and Equipment:

Once rosters have been established, coaches should contact the Uniform & Equipment Managers to arrange a time and date for the distribution of uniforms and equipment. Each coach will receive a list of and sign for all equipment given to them. This list will be used to check return of equipment at the end of the season.

Each player is responsible for the care and condition of all uniforms and equipment assigned to them. Uniforms must be returned washed and equipment cleaned. Parents may be charged for uniforms/equipment that is lost or damaged beyond normal wear and tear. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the player being prohibited from participation in future CYO activities. The coach is ultimately responsible to ensure that all uniforms and equipment are returned to the Equipment Manager in proper condition within two weeks after the end of their season.

Gym Equipment:

Coaches are responsible for setting up and putting away the all gym equipment (i.e. scoreboard, volleyball nets, etc.) and having someone operate same for all scheduled games (including games not involving Visitation teams).

The only balls (basketball, volleyball, etc.) allowed in the gym during games are those brought in by the respective coaches. Coaches are asked to remind their teams of this rule. Lobby monitors are to be on the lookout for this and to deny access to anyone with such equipment


CYO Archdiocese Coaches' Accreditation:

All coaches and their assistants must attend an Archdiocese Accreditation Program within 1 year of their initial assignment assuming the program is still in effect. Failure to do so may jeopardize the team's eligibility in the Archdiocese league.


Practices must be limited to a maximum of 3 per week and should not last longer than 2 hours while school is in session. Team meetings count as a scheduled practice. Practices should be held at a time and location which is accommodating to all players. At the beginning of each season the coaches, Athletic Director/Coordinators and Director of Scheduling will meet to schedule tryout and practice times.  Reassignment of previously scheduled practice times can be coordinated between coaches.

Service Project:

Each team is required  to complete at least one  service project  in support of the CYO Youth Ministry service phase.  Coaches will be required to notify the Service Coordinator of their team project and expected date within two weeks after the start of the season.  Every service project must be approved by the Service Coordinator and must be completed prior to the end of the regular season.  If a player is not able to attend their team’s project they must contact the Service Coordinator and make other arrangements.  Failure to do an approved service project will jeopardize future involvement in CYO.  Coaches are required to attend, participate and encourage their players in the service project.  


The Athletic Director/Coordinators will work with the Coaches and Equipment Managers to develop and submit a budget for all sports.

Referee Fees:

Prior to the start of each season, one check will be given to each coach to cover any applicable referee fees. The coach is then responsible for making sure that each referee is paid during the course of their season and for returning any unused funds. Additional fees for playoff games will be covered as needed.

Parents' Meeting:

At the beginning of the school year, a general meeting is held with the parents of all students who intend to play CYO athletics during that year. At this meeting, the appropriate CYO board members will review the Spiritual and Academic requirements for participation in the CYO athletic program.

In addition at the beginning of every season (Fall, Winter, and Spring) each coach will meet with the parents of their team as a group.  This is  an opportunity for each coach to  outline his coaching philosophy, relay the information presented at the Coaches Meeting by the Athletic Directors, and reinforce his expectations of the parents during the upcoming season. Coaches should also reinforce that the purpose of our program is not to create high school athletes but to formulate better Catholics.  If not already determined, team parents will be selected at the Parents' meeting.


Keys for access to the school/gym and equipment rooms are available at the rectory. Only those coaches listed on the sign out sheet will be given the keys and it is their sole responsibility for signing out and returning the keys when finished.  The coach is responsible for knowing the office hours of the rectory when keys can be obtained.  Do not call the rectory after hours or go to the convent to get the keys.  In an emergency you may contact the Chief Adult Advisor on his cell number if keys are not readily available.


All events sponsored by the Visitation CYO are to take place on the fields and/or in the facilities owned, operated, and maintained by Visitation parish.  All use of the Visitation BVM facilities must be scheduled with the Director of Scheduling.

In the event that our facilities are inadequate for the program being offered, or if the parish facilities are not available to accommodate certain practices or games due to scheduling conflicts, arrangements may be made for specific and limited practices and/or games to take place at another site/facility. Location, cost and availability of outside sites are factors which must be considered when choosing another site.  All use of non-Visitation facilities must be approved by the Priest-Moderator.  A minimum of two (2) weeks notice is required to coordinate Certificates of Insurance with the Archdiocese for off-site facility use. Arrangements for use of off-site facilities are coordinated through the Athletic Director.

Each coach is responsible for seeing that all facilities they use are left in better condition than when they found them. This means that all trash, furniture, lights, locks, etc. must be attended to before leaving. Especially check the bathrooms before locking up to be sure they are in good order and the lights are turned off.  If there is no team immediately following in the gym the doors must be locked, lights turned off, and keys returned to the rectory.

 Due to security concerns, the policy for entrance to the gym for practice will be for the first team to unlock the front door.  Once entrance is gained, the front doors are to be locked and all other team entrances will occur through the door by the stage.  No one will be permitted in the lobby except to use the restrooms and water fountains.  During game times, the front door may remain unlocked but there must be two (2) lobby monitors present at all times.

Coaches are responsible for setting up and putting away all equipment used during a practice or game. During practice sessions, if it is necessary to turn on the Visitation gym lights, only every other row of lights as marked on the circuit box are to be energized.

 Failure to follow the facility policies may result in loss of gym/field time.

First Aid:

Each coach will be supplied with a basic First Aid kit by the Equipment Manager when they receive their uniforms. First Aid kits are also kept in the equipment room at the gym and at the snack stand by the athletic field.

Under no circumstances should a coach administer medication of any kind to a player (even””Tylenol"). Players may self administer doctor prescribed medicine if a release form from their doctor is on file at the school. Coaches should review the registration form of each player to familiarize themselves with any medical restrictions that may apply. It is the coach's responsibility to have the medical forms of all of his players with him at all practices and games.

Each coach is also responsible for bringing a small cooler of ice to each practice/game. Ice will be available at the snack stands and in the school cafeteria as a back-up. Coolers and ice bags will be provided to each team.  Chemical ice bags should be placed in a plastic ziplock bag prior to application to the skin and should never be used on the face.  Leaking of these bags can cause severe chemical burns to the skin and the contents should be washed off immediately with large amounts of water if spillage occurs.

If a player is injured during a practice or game, the Priest-Moderator must be notified as soon as possible so that proper coordination of any insurance forms may completed with the Archdiocese. Every injury must have an insurance form filled out. Players must provide written approval from their doctor before they are allowed to continue to practice or play.

All coaches must be trained and understand their obligations related to the Exposure Control Plan for Blood Borne Pathogens. Coaches are also encouraged to complete a qualified First Aid course.  All Coaches should also know where AED’s are located and be familiar with their use.


The Director of Publicity is responsible for coordinating the publication of game/tournament results with the local media. Coaches should contact the Registrar with any pertinent information that should be posted in the Sunday church bulletin.

NOTE: Deadline for publication in the Church Bulletin is 12 Noon on the Monday prior to the Sunday of distribution.

All teams/individuals that win at the Regional and Archdiocese level will be recognized at the annual year end Banquet as well as through local media.

Varsity Awards:

At the end of each season, varsity coaches have an opportunity to select three (3) players to receive the following awards:

Coach's Award: Given to the individual who has contributed the most to the sport in all areas including morale, spirit, sportsmanship, and commitment.  Two Coach’s Awards for each team will be given. 

Most Valuable Player: The player who contributes the most athletically to the team. .  Only one MVP for each team will be given.

Any child on a varsity team regardless of grade is eligible to receive an award unless that child has been suspended by the Dean of Development during the season for misconduct.  If a coach’s child is under consideration for any award, the head coach MUST NOTIFY, in writing, the AD prior to the halfway mark of the season.  If the AD is not notified in writing, the child is ineligible for  any  award.  Selections must be submitted to the Athletic Director within two weeks after the completion of each season.  Awards will be presented at the CYO Recognition Dinner which is held each year in June.


All awards and all-star team selections are to be chosen by the head coach and his coaching staff and not by a team vote.  If a team wins a trophy, it is to be taken to the school office for display.  It is not to be walked around the school halls.  The coach may contact the school office with details of the achievement so as to be recognized during morning announcements.

Junior Varsity Awards:

At the end of each season, Junior Varsity coaches have an opportunity to select one (1) player to receive the "JV Spirit" award. The recipient of this award is not necessarily the best athlete on the team but rather that individual who demonstrates the fundamental attributes of teamwork, attitude, commitment, and an understanding of the sport. Any player regardless of grade is eligible for the award, however, if all things are equal priority should go a 6th grader.  The coach is responsible for the final selection not the team members.  Selections must be submitted to the Athletic Director within two weeks after the completion of each season. Awards will be presented at the JV Recognition Assembly which is held each year in June.


Every practice/game should begin and end with a prayer.

If Visitation school is closed due to inclement weather, all other scheduled activities at the school are also canceled.

No games or practices may be scheduled during Holy Week (Thursday thru Easter Sunday), 40 Hours Devotion, before exam days, and any other special religious event designated by the Priest-Moderator.

No practices/games should be scheduled before 1:00 P.M. on Sundays. Use of the outdoor fields shall not be scheduled during 5:15 P.M. mass on Saturdays. 

No practices/games should be scheduled on Mondays due to PREP classes.  High School CYO will be allowed to schedule games/practices on Mondays.

Basketball Tournaments: Each Visitation Basketball team may play in maximum of (4) tournaments throughout the season. Playoffs are not considered tournament games.

Coaches and Assistants cannot train their team off-season. Coaches in violation of this rule are subject to removal.

Coaches and parents are responsible for the cost of any "additional" equipment or apparel that is purchased as either enhancements to uniforms or recognition for team performance. All designs (i.e. logos, wording, etc.) used on apparel and awards must be approved by the Priest-Moderator prior to ordering.

Each team must be represented at the monthly CYO Advisory Board Meeting by either the head coach or one of the assistant coaches during that sport's season. Meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 P.M. in the Larkin Center.