Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A New Crowd For The Fall

The gym at Loyola Park was busy yesterday.  Half of the new people showed up, and the place would have been very crowded if everybody had come in.  I missed the first day of the fall session at Loyola because it began in the middle of the previous week as opposed to the beginning of the week.

In this photo, Kevin puts on a pair of bag gloves.  "Didn't I meet you on the street a few weeks ago?" he asked.  On my way home from work one night, Kevin noticed that I was carrying my boxing bag.  He asked if I boxed, and he stated he had an interest in it.  I told him about Loyola Park, and lo and behold, he signed up for the class.

Gabs and Emily, two new women in the class, were glad to see me there.  "It's nice to have a woman's touch in here," Gabs said.  I told the usual horror stories about Alan and I sparring in the past.  Alan overheard me and grinned.  I showed Gabs and Emily how to use the double-end bag.

Robert, another newbie, decided to spar with Alan.  It appeared -- although I may be wrong -- that Robert had never been in a fist fight at all.  Alan was popping him in the side and in the head many times.  Robert was very hesitant about throwing punches, and I kept telling him not to turn his back on nor his head away from Alan.  "I do well at getting my behind kicked," Robert told me later.

As for LaFollette Park, I know I'm going to have to soothe some feelings and egos when I open up the gym.  Jaymerson seemed to have gotten over his bad time in sparring later on last week, but this is a new week.  I know he's going to want to get revenge on KeVonte, but I can't allow him to spar with him or any of the other kids.  One solution may be for me to spar with Jaymerson if the boy starts having fits about being denied that activity.  But that may not be satisfying to him.  Kewan was boo-hoo'ing last week after sparring, too, so let's see if he shows up again this week.  I believe that Kewan could do fairly well, but he's got to listen and stop trying to bring pro wrestling into boxing.  In fact, most of the boys in the youth class need to do that.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Calmer Day

Ben and Alan talk in the corner in-between sparring rounds in this photo taken at Loyola Park.

Jaymerson came in a half-hour late this morning.  His sister Morgan has music lessons, and he had to wait until she was finished before going to the gym.  Donovan worked mostly with Jaymerson, holding the punch donut and the punch mitts for him.  Jaymerson was way calmer than he was yesterday.

I thanked Donovan for his help.  He was very patient with Jaymerson.  I watched closely, and with interest, as he got the boy to do a little better in terms of training.  Of course, I don't expect the improvement to last until the next time the gym is open.  I'll have to keep going over the basics with Jaymerson again.

Donovan and Jaymerson were the only two who attended the kids' class.  All of the teens were missing in action.  No one over 18 years of age has signed up for the adult class as of yet.  I think I'm going to keep pushing when and where I can for the boxing class to take place Monday thru Friday instead of Tuesday thru Saturday.  Saturday's attendance has always been down, and I do not ever expect it to pick up.

I learned that the coaches' clinic tomorrow is mainly for those coaches who haven't been certified at all.  That was a relief, as I really want to just chill out tomorrow after church service is completed.  I do have to attend a coach's clinic sometime next year to be refreshed about the rules, which always seem to be changing.  Some of the changes appear to be good, while other rules just seem to be exercises in nitpicking.

Crying and Meltdown Disasters

Ben spars with Jesus at Loyola Park in this photo that was taken earlier this week.

Today was truly all-sparring day at LaFollette Park gym.  There was some confusion, but a vibe of excitement going on.  I thought everything was going well.  Then the first of two disasters took place.

Kewan sparred with KeVonte.  Of the two, KeVonte was more aggressive, and he had good form.  Kewan started off with good intentions, but KeVonte got the better of him.  Kewan was backed into a corner, then he turned around, leaned on the ropes and cried.  Thank God for Donovan, who was acting as the referee, while I stood on the ring apron, barking out instructions.  Donovan signaled to me that Kewan had enough pounding on for today.  Kewan took his helmet off, ran to his grandmother who had walked in at the end of the round, and left the gym.

Against my better judgement, I allowed Jaymerson to pester me into letting him spar.  KeVonte had the upper hand again, but then Jaymerson, who is a special needs child, had no focus.  No matter how many times Dwayne and I told Jaymerson to keep his hands up, move, punch back, etc., the boy did not.  KeVonte popped Jaymerson many times in the face during the first round.  Jaymerson was crying, and I asked did he want to do another around.  First he didn't, then he said he did.  The second round was worst than the first.

Jaymerson threw a total fit.  He kept saying afterwards that he wanted to punch KeVonte.  "You can't get back into the ring, it's over with for today," Dwayne told him.  Jaymerson continued to cry, scream and yell.  "My nose is bleeding," he insisted, but it wasn't.  Jaymerson threw punches at Dwayne, and then blamed him for the punches he took from KeVonte.  The boy didn't want to hear anything that anyone had to say, including anything his sister Morgan was trying to tell him.  This went on and on, while the other boys in the gym continued to spar.  Finally, Jaymerson ran up and hugged me, saying, "I love you."

"I love you, too, but all this crying and carrying on has to stop.  This is boxing, and people get hit.  That what happens," I told him.  I got down on my knees, took his hands and looked up into his face.  "If you don't want to be in the class anymore, I understand.  I won't be mad," I continued.  Jaymerson still wanted to come to the gym but continued to be angry about the sparring session.  I reverted back to all the times I had to soothe my late youngest brother -- who was also a special needs child -- as I kept talking quietly and calmly to Jaymerson.

Donte and his twin brother sparred with each other, and one of the twins sparred with Donovan (which was a good match up).  All the boys had a chance to spar.  The only boy who didn't show up to class was Tayjon.

Later, Jaymerson's mom came in, and Dwayne and I explained what happened.  We both agreed that her son should not spar with anyone from here on in.  It's going to be a struggle to enforce that rule with Jaymerson, because he's going to want to join in when the other boys spar.  Even before Jaymerson stepped in the ring, I figured things wouldn't go well.  Now I have proof.  I can't allow the boy to get hurt like that when he can't pick up on the boxing basics well enough to defend himself.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Having Balance

Ro watches some sparring action going on at Loyola Park in the photo above.

Yesterday, I was holding pads for Ariel.  She asked, "Miss Hillari, how do you keep your balance?"  It's not easy, believe me, especially when she or Donovan are throwing the punches.  My arthritic knees are unsteady from time to time, but I told Ariel that I always try to keep my balance even over my hips and thighs. I've also been using the balance board in the gym.

Kewan, one of the newer kids in the youth class, took off his hand wraps and left in the middle of class without a word.  About fifteen minutes later, he returned looking very upset.  "What's wrong?" I asked.  "I can't find my cell phone," he mumbled.  We looked in all the places where it might have been, but we didn't find it.  Kewan mentioned that it might be in his book bag, which his mother had somewhere with her.  I thought to myself, "I would never give any kid of mine a cell phone because they are too expensive to lose."

A couple of twin 12-year-olds came to class:  Donte and Devonte.  Now I just have to figure out who is who.  I was glad to see them because they appear to be more of a good fit with Donovan in terms of sparring.  However, I worry about Donovan having less time to train because he now participates in track two times a week.

I called the houses of some of the kids I hadn't seen yet in class.  Yeah, I know I kept saying I wasn't going to waste my time doing that.  I did it because it bothered me that a few of the kids had signed up for the summer class, but never showed up.  My calls got Jahnaja to return; she had actually been in the class back during the spring, I believe.  It was easy to work with her because she forgot nothing I taught her previously.  She asked about Xavier, and I told her he hadn't been to the gym in weeks.  "I heard Xavier's heart troubles have kept him away," she said.  "So that's why I didn't see him all summer," I thought to myself. I'm so glad I pressed Xavier to go get checked out when he first told me about having chest pains.

When I called Maz's house, his dad apologized to me for not keeping up with the date the class began.  "I fought in the Golden Gloves, and I could help train my son, as well as help you train the other kids in the class," he told me.  Now I told him that he would have to fill out a volunteer form, but otherwise, I would be happy to have him come down to the gym.

Tayjon and James are back, but as usual, they don't stay the full hour because they play on the football team.  At this point, I just appreciate the fact that they continue to come to class and are enthusiastic about boxing.

Jaymerson is in the class, but it's not a good fit for him.  I like the boy because he reminds me of my late youngest brother.  Jaymerson is developmentally delayed like my brother was.  I have to go back in my memory to remember how my mother, my younger sister, and I would handle things when my brother was upset and/or uncooperative.  Thank God the inclusion aide, Dwayne, is there in the gym to help with Jaymerson.  The boy's mother put him in the class, so there's not much I can say.  But I'm not going to have Jaymerson spar or put him in boxing shows.  I could see the boy having a meltdown upon being hit, and that would not be a good situation.

I received an email that there's a coaching clinic coming up this Sunday.  So typical. . . .learning on a Friday that there's a meeting during the weekend.  I'll check my license status with USA Boxing.  I think the last time I went to a clinic was last year, so I may not have to attend this clinic.  But I need to save up money to pay for renewing the license because it does expire at the end of this year.