Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thoughts About Being A Boxing Coach

Now that I'm the person running a gym as opposed to being a patron and volunteer, it has occurred to me that coaches need support as much as fighters do.  These are my opinions.  Feel free to comment and add other tips. 

1.  Hang out with other coaches.  I still call on Alan at Loyola Park, and keep in contact with Steve, who was the coach there before him.  I'm friendly with several Chicago Park District boxing coaches (Bill, Jack, George, Rodney, etc.), and I know a professional boxing coach (Fernando).  They can offer advice on how to handle different situations, share training techniques, as well as be sympathetic sounding boards when people need to vent. 

2.  Don't forget about others in the fight game.  Promoters, referees, fight doctors, timekeepers, managers, etc.  They are also good sources for advice and information.

3. Family and friends.  I've chronicled my late parents, my stepmother, my late younger sister, and some of my friends' negative reactions to me being involved in boxing.  But I have some cheerleaders.  Always be appreciative of whatever support is gained from this group and let them know what's going on.

4.  Books and DVD.  In an recent post, I mentioned that I've been reviewing some boxing books in my library to get ideas about how to help the fighters I'll be training.  There are also helpful DVDs available about boxing, in addition to other connected subjects such as strength training and nutrition.

5.  Prayer and meditation.  Don't laugh; it works.  Some days in the gym can be tough, and some people's personalities can be trying.  Pray, read your religious texts (Bible, Torah, Koran, I-Ching, etc.), meditate 15 to 20 minutes a day, take deep breaths, chant, count to ten, whatever it takes to remain centered and keep cool. 

6.  Exercise.  I remember Steve telling me that it's hard for a coach to get a workout in because they are helping others.  This is true.  If possible, get a workout in before anyone else gets to the gym.  If there is time at the end, do a workout then.  Otherwise, plan another time, but don't neglect the workout.  I think it's very helpful for a boxing coach to stay fresh on their skills because it helps when training others how to fight. 

7.  Be helpful to co-workers.  This is especially applicable if a boxing coach is an employee in a municipal park district (like me), or employed by a health club franchise.  Just the other day, a kid came up to the front desk and said the basketball gym floor was wet.  I could have just reported it to the attendants, but they were busy doing other tasks.  Instead, I went and got a mop.  I've learned a long time ago that always having a "that's not my job" attitude doesn't fly in any type of workplace.  The benefits of having a team attitude is that one needs help, it will be reciprocated. 

8.  Work in cooperation with parents.  The pastor of the church I used to attend didn't think that it was important to partner with parents in helping to make the youth ministry successful.   I never understood the pastor's line of thinking.  In my opinion, the youth ministry was not successful partially because of that.  If a boxing coach is training youths, they have to have good communication with the youths' parents and guardians and encourage them to be involved.  Parents should not be shut out of the process. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Referring To The Boxing Library

There will not be an adult boxing program at LaFollette Park at this time.  The gym will be open for kids and teens beginning September 16th.  I was told that an adult class will be added later on. That changes my lesson plan a little, but the adjustments aren't major.

I might have a volunteer to help in the gym soon.  A young man introduced himself to me the other day and explained that he was eager to work with the kids.  The young man had fought in the Golden Gloves.  The field house supervisor printed out a volunteer form for him.  "It might take a couple of weeks or more to approve, but turn it in as soon as you can," I told him.

In the meantime, I've been talking to the kids who hang around the field house and the park about the upcoming boxing class.  All I have to do is walk around with my battered bag gloves and my hands wraps on, and the kids start asking questions.  Turns out that quite a few kids are interested.  But a lot of kids have a lot of other after-school activities going on, too.  I'll have flyers soon so I can do more recruiting.

The second group of people I need to reach out to are the kids' parents and guardians.   I already know that some parents/guardians -- regardless of how much interest their kids show -- are not going to be too keen about giving permission to the kids to box.  The very nature of boxing as a tough, rough sport means that I have to assure parents and guardians that their kids will be safe and looked after.

The boys are interested, but I'd like to see girls sign up as well.  Seldom would I see any girls under age 12 in the boxing classes at other park district gyms.  Not many teenage girls were in the boxing classes, either. Even if they never spar and/or compete (and this goes for the boys, too), I'd like to show the girls that boxing is a good workout.

I had to go through my storage bins to find my boxing books.  I don't know why I packed most of them away, but they are back in my bookcases.  I'm going to be re-reading most of them so I can get more ideas to use with the youths.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Friend From School

I was hanging around in the front hallway, talking to Pam, Myiesha, Rog, and other staff members.  Two kids walked past on their way to the pool.  Myiesha asked them where were their parents.  It was family swim, and the rules state that a parent has to be in the pool with their kids.  The kids explained that their mother was outside.  "You two look familiar," I said to the kids.  I asked the boy what his name was.  "I'm Nathanial, and this is my twin sister, Nia," he said.  "Your mother's name is Kim, right?"  I asked.  The kids answered in the affirmative, the looks on their faces wondering how did I know that.  "I went to grade school and high school with your mom," I said.

I followed the twins outside to their mom's car.  I heard Nia say, "Hillari is here!"  Kim stepped out of her car and gave me a big hug.  Her kids are training for a sports event, and they needed to practice in the pool. The photo above is a selfie taken with Nia's cell phone.  I was so glad to finally meet Kim's children.  She brags on them all the time for good reason.  Also, Kim is a very involved parent.  She goes out of her way to make sure that her kids have various experiences, and she is their biggest cheerleader.

Earlier, I did a workout in the gym.  Myiesha, Rog, and ReRe watched as I alternated between hitting a heavy bag and an uppercut bag.  It was so hot in the room, so I only did four three-minute rounds.  I need to get what workouts I can in now because once the fall session starts, I won't be able to do many of them.

I was walking through the halls with my hands wrapped, carrying my old bag gloves.  Three youths saw me, and they were surprised that I was the new boxing coach.  One boy said,  "Seriously?"  The second boy said, "But we don't want to hurt you!"  The third boy, who was older than the other two said, "Come on, man.  She's not going to be sparring with us!  She's the coach!"  I try to be seen with gloves as much as I can.  It's a way to help promote the program and drum up interest.  Soon, I will be creating a flyer to hand out to kids and adults.