Redwood Region Tips for Program Coordinators

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to join with our team of Odyssey organizers to help students at your school… find coaches, organize teams, provide judges, and pass on pertinent information.

Should you, or any member of our team of school coordinators, be stuck, our entire team is stuck. You may not skip your turn, nor pass, but you may repeat and be the coordinator again next year. Have fun, and good luck with your mission. The following briefing will help you get started and will NOT self-destruct!

(taken from Virginia Opportunities In Creativity ExplorationS (VOICES) for Odyssey of the Mind by Lisa Love)

Getting Started in the Redwood Region

Talk with the principal.

As early as possible, explain the benefits and value of the program. Get approval to move forward to offer the program to your group’s students. That usually means:

  • sending informational or sign-up flyers home
  • having an informative meeting one evening at school
  • enlisting a faculty sponsor (mandatory at most secondary schools)
  • perhaps soliciting teachers to be judges at the regional tournament.

Discuss finances.

  • Who will pay the school membership fee ($135), the state fee ($75), the regional fees ($65 per team, $45 for Primary teams), and individual team supplies?
  • Depending on who coaches the team, the school may have a fingerprinting policy requiring the coaches, if not staff members, to be fingerprinted. This could come with a cost.
  • If the Parent-Student-Faculty organization is paying for some or all of these, make a presentation at one of their meetings. Get the date of the regional tournament on the school calendar.
  • You can also ask participants who are assigned to a team to pay a participation fee/donation to cover some of these costs.
  • Report back to the organization after the tournament and thank them for their support.

Set up an information meeting.

  • The information meeting can be parents only    or students and parents.
  • Share an overview of the program and the problem synopses.
  • You can provide some examples of spontaneous problems to solve.
  • You can recruit coaches at that meeting or hold a separate meeting and have parents of interested students sit together by grade level or problem-specific interests. Explain that these students cannot participate without a coach.
  • Encourage a team of two or three coaches to help share the load.
  • Once coaches are signed up you can try to work together to get interested students on a team.
  • Some deciding factors are practice days of the week, grade, ability of parents to assist the team or coach by assistant coaching. Parents can also help out by offering storage for team materials, transportation for various team-based trips, providing snacks, and volunteering at the tournament. All parents should be volunteering their time in some manner.
  • After teams are formed…

    Disseminate information to coaches and teams.

    Keep them informed of trainings and workshops available. Pass on any information as soon as you receive it. These trainings can fill up quickly so help your coaches and teams get signed up as quickly as possible.

    • Oct. 3 or Oct. 17 – New Coaches Training
    • Nov. 14 – Breaking Apart the Problem/Problem Breakouts
    • Dec. 5 – Style Training/Problem Breakouts
    • Jan. 30 – Spont Day (for teams)

                                    Please note – All trainings are on Saturdays.

    • Make sure coaches get a hard copy of the Program Guide (general rules).
    • All coaches should have the membership number and zip code; these will access them to the Member’s Area of the national Odyssey of the Mind website. This is where they can get electronic copies of the problems, the program guide, and forms needed to be completed for the tournament.

    Coordinate the selection of long-term problems that the teams are choosing to solve.

    If two teams in the same division group want to solve the same problem, your school will need to purchase a second membership, come up with a way to have teams choose different problems, or hold a tryout before the tournament to see which team will compete.

    This does not apply to the Primary division. Your school can have as many K-2 grade teams as they wish.

    You can have teams send you their top 2 or 3 choices for long-term problems by a certain date. Then figure out a fair way of deciding which teams get their first choice, if two teams have selected the same problem as their first choice. Typically, if you have 3 teams in the same division, you can make it work with one membership and each team choosing a different problem. If you have 4 or more teams in the same division, you may want to look into purchasing a second membership.

    Register the teams.

    • You can do this, or remind the coach(es) to register their team and include your email as the school email.
    • It is important that they provide their own email address and cell phone number, should regional officials need to contact them.
    • At no time, should the school’s number be used as a main contact number. Registration for the Regional Competition is completed in the Member’s Area of the national website. Usually this should wait until December, to see if the team has the same team members and is still doing the same problem.
    • Again, the region needs the Coach’s cell phone and email, not yours.

    Solicit teachers and other adults, not related to team members, to be tournament judges.

    • The tournament judges are all volunteers. They should enjoy watching student creativity in action and should not expect to see their child’s performance at the tournament.
    • If they are the relative of a child performing on a team, they will be assigned a different problem to judge.
    • All judges receive training in February for the March 12 tournament.

    Pay the tournament fees on time.

    • After you register the team you will receive a notice of how much it costs each team for the local tournament ($65 per team, $45 per team in Primary division), and where to send the check.
    • There is an additional $100 per team penalty if you register after the deadline (sometime late January/early February).

    Schedule a Dress Rehearsal.

    • About a week before the tournament, it’s a great idea to have a low key, celebration of your school’s teams and let them practice in front of family and friends.
    • This event works best on the Friday evening of the weekend before the tournament. The night custodian is still available on a Friday, rather than a Saturday. Teams then have a couple of days to fix things that didn’t work or weren’t ready.
    • Encourage teams to share what they have so far. Many teams will still be finishing things.
    • Do not make it a school-wide presentation, this will make teams too nervous.
    • Have a timer/announcer introduce the team and the coach(es) to the audience. Teams should practice moving their sets and/or props from a taped off starting location (off to one side) to a center stage performance area, as the timer says, “Team you may BEGIN” and starts the time. Timer privately shows the coach the time at the end of the performance.
    • Have the team pose for a team picture at the end.
    • This is also a good time to confirm parents as your school’s tournament volunteers.

    At the tournament

    Enjoy watching your membership’s teams perform!