Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Taking It Personally


I was poised to get a good shot of Alan and his son talking in-between rounds of Matt's sparring session with Rojan.  Then they both noticed I had the camera and started clowning.


Note in this photo that Matt is not wearing headgear, but Rojan is.  Matt later complained of being out of shape (although he looked fine to me).  He didn't want to knock anyone out, but he wanted to throw hard enough punches so that the other people (he also sparred with John) could feel like they had been hit with something.

Loyola Park gym was fairly packed the other night.  As usual, LaFollette Park gym was not.  Donovan has gone out of town, so only Tayjon and James were in the kids' class.  But James may be more of a leader than I think.  Both him and Tayjon walked into the gym together.  James was giving Tayjon instructions about what they were going to do at football practice after wards.  Upon hearing that Donovan was not going to return until later in the week, James told Tayjon, "Make sure you bring your mouthpiece tomorrow."  James let him know that he has plans to spar.

Turns out that Jaelen, like Tayjon and James, is also on the football team.  I saw him wearing his uniform.  The younger boys manage to make it boxing, but the teen class, which Jaelen is in, goes on the same time football practice does.  Tayjon and James have been leaving early to go to football practice, too.  I think their season starts next month.  If they sign up for the fall boxing class, that will have an impact on how often they can actually come to class.  The best I can do is to recruit more kids to cover the spots the boys will not often be occupying.

Ariel came in, but she told me her mother couldn't attend the adult class that day due to a prior commitment.  I showed Ariel various ways to get out of the corners when pinned in by another fighter.  We also went over how to grab someone's arms and elbows to slow down or stop a barrage of punches.  She really wants to learn the ins and outs.  I remain disappointed that the others in the teen class don't show up regularly so she can practice her skills on them.

Alan suggested that I don't take it personally when people slack off like that.  But most times I do.  I still suspect that one of reasons Xavier hasn't been in is I refused to allow some friend of his to come to the gym and help train him.  In my gym?  I don't think so.  I also think Xavier thinks his friend, whose credentials appear to be suspect, can do a better job than me, probably because his friend is male.  I wish I hadn't allowed Ben's cousins -- who don't even live in Chicago -- to take the last two open spots in the teen boxing class.  They don't come in, and even if they did, Devin and Lacey still wouldn't have enough time to train for the boxing shows.  Those two will be gone back to their home state by the end of next month.  Ben has the advantage as he has been there for months, but Ben has only been in class two times since the summer began.  Plus, Ben has numerous excuses for not wanting to take a fight, and I'm no longer interested in hearing those excuses.

Mike, the kickboxing instructor, told me he has the same problems regarding attendance.  During the fall and winter, people are present, but as soon as the weather starts showing signs of warming up, people suddenly become busy doing other things.

I learned that Kentrell, the obnoxious kid whom I have banned from the gym, has been working the nerves of some other staff members as well.  Good to know that I'm not the only one who has low tolerance for Kentrell's antics.  It just makes it easier for me to make the ban stick.

This week, I will turn in a request for a flier announcing the fall boxing class.  I sure hope I get the fliers back early.  I could hardly use the fliers for the summer class because by the time they showed up, class had already started.  Thank God for word of mouth, because I might not have had anyone in the summer class at all.




Friday, July 22, 2016

Humidity and Excuses


Tayjon was MIA again, but my two most consistent people, Donovan and James, showed up for class.  Today was a sparring day, and the usual procedure is to let them warm up and work out for a half-hour, then begin sparring the second half of the hour.  Donovan really pays attention to what he does in the ring, but James isn't there yet.  It's a good thing that I monitor the action closely.

James took a lot of hits to his head and face.  If James wouldn't turn his head, have his eyes closed, sneak glances at the timer, put both fists out at once, lean on the ropes constantly, rely on staying in the corners, etc., then the boy's technique would be a little better.  Donovan is becoming more confident, and I worry that James might get hurt.

However, I can't fault James completely because each and every time he's in the gym, he does the workout and tries his best.  Donovan just keeps getting better and better, and Ariel has natural talent to work with.  It's too bad that the others signed up for the program don't have the same motivation.  I've just about given up on Xavier, Terence, Jackie, and Jaelen.  They haven't been around for weeks.

Ben has disappointed me with non-attendance, as well.  I closed up the gym early today because I knew that Ariel's mother would not be attending the adult class due to a previous commitment.  The other adults have long disappeared.  Chicago is currently in the midst of a heat wave, and I didn't feel like sitting alone in a hot gym.  While I was standing in the office area behind the front desk, I spotted Ben, one of his cousins, and Ben's father coming out of the fitness room.  I grumbled to myself, Ben and his cousin can lift weights, but they can't come to boxing?

I called Ben up to the front desk to explain himself.  Inwardly, I rolled my eyes as he went on about being "busy" and how his other cousin who is in the class (but who wasn't in the field house at that time) hasn't been coming around to his house.  "There are boxing shows back to back in August and September.  I'm going to those shows regardless of whether or not people in the class decide to show up for them.  As for your cousins, they begged and pleaded to get into the class, but they've only shown up once.  That's two spots that two other people who would have attended regularly, could have had," I told him.  Ben didn't have much to say after that, and frankly, I wasn't interested in hearing more excuses.

Ariel is in the teen class along with Ben, but she's never met him or his cousins because they have never been there when she is there.  She is eager to try sparring.  I was just telling her mother the other day that I was not worried about Ariel holding her own against the boys.  She has good, strong hands, and good movement.  But she can't get the sparring work in because the others keep skipping class.  I would spar with her, but my shoulder has been acting up for weeks.  It is highly frustrating to a coach to have an eager fighter, but keep running into walls trying to get them the training they need.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not Getting It


William asked me to open up the room where the seasonal sports coach keeps most of his equipment.  The seasonal sports coach was sitting right behind the door.  "I'm sorry, I don't want to knock anyone over," I said to the coach.  Then I looked up and spotted Kentrell.

Kentrell is the kid who shows up at the gym on and off, goofing around with the equipment.  Several sessions ago, he and his brother Quintrell, used to be registered for the boxing class.  Neither boy was that interested in the sport. Every time I warn Kentrell off of the equipment, the boy lies and says he's still registered for the class, or says his mother signed him up.  We have the same conversation each time, and I have told Kentrell I'm tired of repeating myself to him.  Then Kentrell has the nerve to get an attitude because I won't let him do whatever he wants.  The last time, Kentrell hit the flex bag (which is now broken) on his way out in defiance of me.

In front of the seasonal coach, I announced to Kentrell that he was no longer allowed in the boxing gym unless he brings his mother with him.  Now the boy can try me again if he wants, but when I throw him out if he shows up again, I have the seasonal coach as a backup to prove that the boy disregarded my direct order.

An adult walked in to the gym and started hitting the speed bag.  I was in the ring holding the punch mitts for Donovan.  The adult said nothing to me before touching the equipment.  I curtly told the guy he had to sign up if he wanted to do that before resuming working with Donovan.  He gave me a dumb Urkel-like "oh, I guess I wasn't supposed to do that?" look.  Several minutes later, the guy returns, accompanied by the attendant on duty.  "You're the coach?" the guy asked in great disbelief.  "Women do coach," I replied coldly.   Who in the hell did the guy think I was?  The fact that I was working with Donovan should have given him a hint.  After I explained that adults have to pay for boxing class, it appeared the guy's interest faded.  Strike one.

About a half-hour later, the guy returns with his teenage son.  The guy's son didn't appear to be overly interested in seeing the gym.  I told the guy the class was full.  Unfortunately, a lot of parents don't seem to know what "full" means.  The guy started whining about his son only being with him for the summer, and him wanting the kid to have something to do before he sends him home to his mom.  Strike two.

I proceeded to point out that it is now the middle of July, and most summer programs have long been filled by this time.  The guy thought that I should give his son a "tryout".  Seeing how that meant letting his kid use equipment without being officially in the class, that was a no from me.  Strike three, and the guy was out.

Against my better judgement, I did tell the kid he could come in the class and sit and watch.  But I have a feeling that may involve me having to tell his dad -- way more forcefully the next time -- that I'm not going to allow his kid to participate in the class.  My filter when it comes to parents who want to do something that will compromise the program, be unfair to the other kids in the program and inconvenience me is slowly becoming non existent.

The attendant told me, "Some people just don't get it," as he shook his head.