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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Steam Bath Gym


LaFollette boxing gym might as well have been a steam bath.  The heat just hang over the room.  I was sweating profusely, and it wasn't comfortable for anyone else, especially Ariel.  She worked out for a half-hour before she just had to give it up for the day.

I noticed how Ben's father was very concerned yesterday about his son and his nephews Devin and Lacey all being able to work out together.  However, none of them showed up for the teen class today.  Not a good look, especially for Ben, who has already missed three full weeks of class.

Tayjon saw me earlier when he came down to get his afternoon snack.  Tayjon, like James, attends the summer camp.  He promised me he would show up to class, but he didn't.  Only James and Donovan were there, and they sparred.  Today I realized that James is also on the football team.  "Coach Hillari, can I go to the washroom and put on my uniform?" he asked me near the end of the kids' class.  I would love to see how James does out on the football field.  He may be doing a little better there than he is in the boxing gym.

The summer camp kids keep messing around with the standalone pull up bar in the gym.  The other day, one of the kids was standing on the weight that I use to keep it stable.  I finally took the pull up bar out of the gym.  Most of the kids and adults can't reach it because it is too high.  My main concern has always been that the bar is not that stable.  I've always been worried that it might tip over on someone.  Maybe one of these days, the park district will allow me to order a better one.

The most beautiful rainbow was outside of the field house when I left for the day.  Too bad I didn't have my camera with me.  God does good work, you know.  I took the rainbow as a sign that things are beginning to look up.  I certainly hope so.



Coaching In Two Places


I was coaching more than I was working out at Loyola Park.  Marta needed help with a bobbing and weaving move that Alan had showed her the previous week.  She was a little frustrated with what she perceived as her slow progress, and she wanted to do better.  Marta practiced that move for the majority of the evening.  Alan told her he'd like to get her sparring at some point.

After weeks of mostly inactivity on my part, I was moving better while I was at Loyola.  I spent a lot of time on the double-end bag slipping and ducking.  When I returned to LaFollette Park the following day, I did some shadowboxing during the hour when the eight-to-twelve year olds are in the gym.  A lot of it I was doing to give James an example.  James is doing better, but he still needs to work on his footwork and general body movement.

I had a feeling I should check the class rosters.  Looks like someone slipped another kid into the eight-to-twelve year old class without telling me.  They also disregarded the fact -- again -- that the class was over the established limit of people that should be there.  I was glad that the latest kid didn't show up.  I'm in the middle of preparing whom I have on hand for the boxing shows.  I really don't have the time, nor interest, to deal with another person who is coming into the class nearly a month after it has already started.

The teen class is now full, and hopefully, other staff will respect the class limit (as well as the fact that the class is nearly halfway over) and not register anyone else.  Ben finally showed up to the gym, and brought along two of his cousins, Devin and Lacey, who are now signed up for the class.  Ben's father remained in the gym with them and ran them through a workout.

No adults bothered to show up for their class.  Instead, talky Elizabeth and her older sister Samaia decided to hang out in the gym to kill time until they had to go somewhere else.  Once again, I had to remind Elizabeth that she's not in the class, so she can't use the equipment (a conversation that I'm really tired of constantly having with her).  Elizabeth started talking about signing up for the class, like she always does, but she's not interested in sparring nor competing.  It was established back around the time the spring session began that her mother does not want her in the class.  Maybe Elizabeth thinks if she keeps bringing it up, her mom will magically change her mind.  I don't think that's going to happen.

I can accept the adults telling me they don't want to compete.  Most are just looking for a different type of exercise.  When I hear kids telling me they don't want to spar, they don't want to compete. . . .I'm sorry, but I wonder why they signed up for the class.  That's what the class is designed for -- to give youths the chance to show their skills.  My experience so far is if a kid is in the class for some other purpose other than competing, soon, I will have a bored, restless kid on my hands who won't have motivation to only do the workout.  A kid being bored and restless often leads to them disrupting the class which I'm not going to tolerate.

Maybe I shouldn't grumble.  At least I haven't had to deal much with the summer camp kids this time around, nor the wear and tear those kids had put on the gym last year.  So far, so good.