Sunday, October 15, 2017

Diappearing Acts and Usual Issues


Halloween is still a way off, but attendance in the gym is down.  When November rolls in, I expect most people to pull disappearing acts because the holidays become uppermost in their minds.  I appreciate those like Mikaela, Noel, Shay, and their mom, who give me a heads up in advance when they will not be in the gym.  But most don't give me any warning.

I see Brandon and his mom walking around the field house often.  They're pleasant when greeting me.  But Brandon has only been in boxing class once since his mom registered him.  Anwar has been missing a lot of days for someone who hasn't been long in the class.  Another boy, David, whom I pulled from the wait list, acted as if he was so eager when I told him he could be in the class.  David hasn't been there yet.  Eric is another one whose face I don't know because I haven't seen him.

Gael surprised me this past Friday by showing up, but his sister Jennifer wasn't with him.  Their mother gave me no explanation for the girl's absence.  I allowed Gael to spar with James.  They only did a couple of rounds because James didn't want to do a third one.  "Are we going to spar again today?" Gael asked.  There were no other kids in the 12-years-and-under class other than those two, as none of the other kids came in.  Gael asked about the next sparring day, not bothering to read the bulletin board as usual.  I informed him and his mother -- again -- that sparring takes place only on Wednesday and Friday.

I had to stop myself from making a sarcastic crack when Gael had the nerve to me ask about getting a match at the Hamlin Park show which is coming up this week.  That Friday was the first time the boy had ever sparred.  Apparently, Gael thought that qualified him for a fight.  "Gael, you're not ready for that," I told him in front of his mom. Jennifer and Gael hardly show up to the gym the three days their mom told me they could attend.  None of the three days they can attend include the sparring days.  Based on the days already missed and what I see in terms of training habits, Gael is never going to be ready for a match.

There have been a lot of inquiries from parents and kids alike about the boxing class lately.  I get the impression that most who've heard about the class don't investigate the basics, like when the class actually began and the days and times it meets.  People display a lot of disappointed looks when they realize the youth classes are full and that they have to wait for the January class.  I become disappointed too because I know most will forget to sign up in December, despite me having given them that information.  Even if they register early, most likely I won't find out they can't attend all five days during the week until after they're already in the class.  The others will show up in February expecting to get into classes that are already full.  

Friday, October 06, 2017

Simons Park Show


No fighters from LaFollette Park showed up at Simons Park's boxing show.  Considering the unfortunate shooting incident that happened at LaFollette the night before, I couldn't blame any of my boxers for wanting to stay close to their homes.  But there were ten fights on the card, most of which were action-packed.  I served as a judge again.  There were times I wanted to yell out instructions to those boxing, but I couldn't.  The crowd was animated, especially during the last fight which featured two adult heavyweights.

The regulars were in attendance including Shifty the referee, Jose and Marlon from Portage Park, Killer Keith, Jeff and Jesse from Taylor Park, Ernest from Fuller Park, Eddie from Davis Square Park, Barry from Loyola Park, Thomas the head of the park district boxing program, Rodney from Trumbull Park, and Fermin from Harrison Park.  I finally met Ben who is the coach at Scottsdale Park.

Solomon, who fights out of Loyola Park, had somewhat of a tough opponent and didn't win his match.  I thought Solomon was waiting a little too long to get some of his punches out there.  A couple of boys, one out of Taylor Park, had a slug fest.  The boy from Taylor Park won.  Jordan, who fights out of Portage Park, was crying after a match he lost and that bothered me.  Y'all know I don't like to see kids upset after a match.  The lone female match was between Whitney from Taylor Park and Alma from Simons Park.  I'm thinking that Whitney was the girl who fought Mikaela at Garfield Park several weeks ago.  Whitney came out like a bull on Alma; she won. 

The Simons Park show thankfully had food (hot dogs, chips and soda).  I was rather hungry.  The only other boxing show I can think of where food is always present is Loyola Park (pizza).  Sadly, I haven't provided food at the LaFollette Park boxing show yet.  Hopefully, I will rectify that next summer. 



Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Guns At The Field House


Noel asked if I wanted a snow cone.  He and his sister Mikaela have been buying me snow cones from a woman who runs a little concession stand in the park.  "Sure! Get me the orange flavor," I smiled.  Their class was over, and their mother and older sister were beginning the adult class.

About ten to fifteen minutes later, Mikaela and Noel came running into the gym, holding the snow cones.  "There was shooting outside, and Noel almost got hit!" Mikaela said.  Their mother and I froze.  "They shooting outside again?" I asked.  "The bullet hit the ground near my foot, and the woman selling the snow cones saw it coming and pushed me out of the way.  I was going to give her five dollars, but she wouldn't take it.  She told us to get to safety and worry about giving her the money another time," Noel explained.  The bullets did hit someone else; an ambulance showed up.  I also learned that the football players had vacated the field when the shots rang out.  The siblings and their mom rushed upstairs to let whoever may have been at the front desk know what was going on.  I went to secure a crash door that leads to the parking lot and Shay, the siblings oldest sister followed me.

As soon as we got to that door, a couple of cops coming in told us we had to evacuate the premises.  More police cars showed up.  The cops said the shooter had run inside the field house.  A search was done for nearly an hour, but the person was not found.  A police helicopter flew back and forth.

Finally, the all-clear was sounded and the staff was allowed back into the building.  On the drive home, I kept thinking about how horrible I would have felt if Noel and/or Mikaela would have been hurt.  Every few days at the field house I keep hearing about shootings that took place three blocks away, two blocks away, one block away. . .I'm tired of that.  Why is it that the go-to solution for a conflict these days is always a gun?

Reading and Winners


Gael and Jennifer showed up late to the 12-years-and-younger class yesterday.  They're not the only ones who come in late from time to time or on a regular basis like Iz and Abraham always do.  But I don't grumble much if those who come in late come in and make the most of the time they have left that day.  However, Gael and Jennifer do not read the bulletin board to see what the next step they have to take in terms of training.  When those two aren't standing around looking confused and/or bored, Gael and Jennifer ask their mother what to do next.  She'll look at the board and tell them to skip over whatever the next step is on the list if her kids act as if they don't want to do it.  Seriously?  Then I have to correct the kids, as well as tell them ten times what to do, which brings more confused looks from Gael and Jennifer and from their mom.  I don't have to do that with any of the other youths in the kids or teens' classes. 

Malik was very happy to see Mikaela and Noel in the teen class yesterday.  Anwar, a 15-year-old, signed up for that class yesterday so Malik has yet another person to work with.  I was glad, seeing how it appears the twins Jana and Jada have disappeared. Lauren has also gone AWOL, too, just like she did a year ago when she was in the class.  I withdrew Jahnaja from the class via letter, but I have yet to hear any explanation from her mother regarding her daughter's lack of attendance.  But then, her mother didn't say anything when I pulled Jahnaja from the class for doing the same thing last year. 

Some coaches say they only want winners in their gyms and on their fields.  Most coaches understand that everyone is not going to win and they're not going to demand that.  What they really want are people who are going to be present and aware, honor their commitments, and do the work.  That's all I'm asking.  But when participants can't even do that. . .if they don't weed themselves out, then the coach has to do it.