Monday, October 24, 2016


Professor stands in the doorway in this photo and watches as Robert, Rojan, and Matthew work out.

The ring at Loyola Park was busy as one sparring session after another took place.  The first few sessions were all-female ones, featuring Kathy, Lauren, and Gabs.  I begged off because my knees had been super wobbly all day long.  The pain killer I took before I went to the gym hadn't kicked in fast enough to make a difference.

Then it was the guys' (Matthew, Rojan, Robert, Connor, Lawrence, Alan) turn to show out.  I ended up monitoring the sparring between Matthew and Alan. I don't remember how many times I yelled out, "Break!" to those two, but it was a lot.  I could have sworn I heard Alan tell Matt, "Who are you angry with down at your job?" after Matt caught his father with a hard punch.

Alan reminded me that Humboldt Park's boxing show is next week.  He's planning on taking some people.  I'm hoping the ones in my gym that are usually up for going to shows -- Donovan and James -- can attend that one.  I was suggesting that Maz should attend the show at Brooks Park in late November. His parents said for me to let them know if he will be ready for that one.  Right now it looks as if Maz may not qualify.  He's been missing days in the gym here and there.

What I ain't gonna do is chase youths down about showing up at the gym on a regular basis.  My attitude about that is not going to change even as the youths' training time will expand next year.  The park district is offering an opportunity, but if the youths don't want to take it, I can't make them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Going, Going. . .Finally Gone

The adult boxing class at LaFollette Park is now officially off the schedule.  Today, I expanded the hours for the youth and teen winter classes which will begin in January.  The number of participants who can register for those classes were raised as well.

I tried with the adult class.  If I had not asked for that class to be canceled, I'm sure the park district would have eventually ended it.  The main issues were too few registrations and low attendance numbers.  I expected to have a vibrant class similar to the adult boxing class at Loyola Park, but it just did not work.  Initially, I was told that adults were eager to have a boxing class at LaFollette, but that proved to be false.

Now I'm thinking that an adult boxing program was a bad fit for LaFollette from the jump.  The kids and teens need that program more.  Youths in neighborhoods such as Austin need as many positive programs as possible to keep them away from what lays in wait for them out in the streets.  Some of the youths don't fully commit to the program.  Too many of them are forced into it by parents who think they're doing what is best for their kids without actually asking the kids what they want.  Other parents and guardians use the class as a time killer to keep their kids away from the house as much as possible and try to put me into the position of being a glorified babysitter.  But at least the kids do show up.  I do get a few kids who are actually interested in the sport and are willing to put in the work.  Most of the adults just wasted their money by disappearing after showing up once or twice.

Of course, this means I'll have to rearrange my lesson plans again.  But I feel that the change will make the program more manageable and give it more room to grow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sparring With 13 Year Olds

Summer sparred with James during the youth boxing class at LaFollette Park. James did a little better than he usually does, but Summer got more licks in than he did.  I can't seem to break James out of the habit of pushing his opponents with his fists as opposed to punching them.  Summer didn't knock him down, however; Donovan did that when it was James' turn to face him.

Later, Summer complained about her head hurting.  "That's what happens in boxing," I told her.  I still don't get why some kids are so surprised about being hurt that after the first time they spar.  "Boxing is a hurt business," I told her, repeating something that I heard a professional boxer -- I think it was Joe Frazier -- say.

Maz and Lauren were the only two who showed up to the teen class.  Lauren immediately let me know that she did not want to spar with Maz.  She was worried about Maz going hard on her.  I sparred with Maz, who like Lauren, is thirteen years old and a little taller than I.  He has good footwork, and he moves well around the ring.  I was bopped in the nose a few times.  We did go light because I had left my mouthpiece at home.

After seeing that, Lauren changes her mind about sparring.  But she wanted to spar with me.  "Please go light," she said.  She's good at swatting punches away, but like James, she loves to hug the ropes.  I told her not to allow me to keep backing her up into them.  Lauren also has to put her punches out there.  She was very hesitant about doing that.

I talked to Steve about canceling out the adult boxing class, but I waited a little too late.  If a class or activity is not removed before a certain date, the computer system updates it to appear the next session.  There may still be a way to take it off before the end of the year, but I'm not banking on that.  I might still have to look at an empty gym during the adult class during the winter season.