Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Show That Wasn't


I knew before I left my apartment yesterday that the Fosco Park show wasn't going to go well.  My feelings were confirmed when I arrived and noticed a majority of the gyms did not show up.  I counted five coaches there including myself.  Those coaches did not have many fighters with them.  From my gym:  Anayah had told me she wanted to fight.  However, she did not appear until the show began.  Jamarion was supposed to participate but he didn't show up.

Because the turnout was so low, Thomas, the boxing program coordinator, announced that all of the fights that evening would be sparring matches.  When Sahia heard this, she wondered if Mikaela and Noel could get in the ring.  But they also were not there in time for the weigh-in.  Thomas had already put the scale away.  He could not and would not delay a show already in progress to add another fight.  There were only four fights instead of the usual ten or twelve.  The evening ended early.

There will be another show today at Fosco Park for open fighters and adults who want matches.  Seeing how I don't have open fighters nor adults who have trained enough to have fights, I won't be going.  Probably, the number of fighters and spectators will be no higher than yesterday.  Maybe it just wasn't good timing to have a boxing show in May.  As far as I know, that had not been done before.  I would not be surprised if Thomas sends an email around asking why the coaches didn't show more support for the Fosco show.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Complaints and Walkouts

I have mentioned before how much I appreciate that Sahia is volunteering in the boxing gym.  She has more patience with most of the youths than I do.  She is very encouraging towards them, and Sahia is firm but fair.  Her teenage children, Noel and Mikaela, are well-raised, thoughtful, and considerate.  Although they were not official park district volunteers, they helped out with the younger kids as well as the teens.  Unfortunately, once the spring session ends next month, they will no longer go to LaFollette Park.

It started during a sparring day several weeks ago.  Not every youth is able to be evenly matched during sparring sessions.  Several of the youths told Sahia and I they wanted to spar, but they were nervous about who they might face in the ring.  Noel and Mikaela agreed to do light sparring with those kids to ease their fears.  Neither of the teens was going to go full force with any of the younger kids.  Noel and Mikaela kept their word under the watchful eye of their mother and myself.

One of the kids who sparred with Noel was told by Sahia to keep their mouth closed in order to keep their mouthpiece in place.  I told the kid the same thing after Sahia pointed it out.  The sparring session went well.  However, the kid left the gym early without a word to Sahia or me.  Woman's intuition kicked in; I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was.

I found out soon enough.  The parent of that kid showed up the next time the gym was open to complain.  They felt Sahia -- who was not in the gym when the parent came in -- was being hard on their kid.  I explained about the rule involving the use of mouthpieces.  The parent then complained about Noel and Mikaela being allowed to spar with the younger kids.  Technically, the parent was not out of line with being concerned.  The boxing classes are divided into age groups for good reason.  But I explained why I made the decision to allow that and how everything was carefully monitored.  I thought the conversation went well and everything was fine.

The next time I arrived at work, the field house supervisor informed me that the parent had called him that morning to complain.  Once again, I had to explain what happened. I've had jobs where I've had to deal with parents before, so I don't necessarily get flustered when parents raise sand.  However, my supervisor doesn't want to deal with incidents that arise out of parents complaining about anything.  Noel and Mikaela would have to fill out volunteer applications.  Fine, that could be done.  Until the applications were approved, the teen siblings could not be allowed to volunteer.

It finally appeared the matter was solved.  But people don't often account for others' feelings in matters.  Noel and Mikaela had reached out to the kid in question long before that sparring day and had been very supportive and nice to them.  I didn't know they had done that on their own.  That is why it hurt me when they said they were not going to return to LaFollette's boxing program after this session is over.  Two of my best fighters are walking because they didn't appreciate how things were handled by the parent in question.  They felt like they had been stabbed in the back as well as been subject to slander.  Things might have been better if the parent had included Sahia, Noel, and Mikaela in the conversation, not just me.  Why that didn't happen, I don't know.   In a gym where the program, frankly, keeps floundering due to various issues, losing supportive people is a knockout blow.






Monday, May 21, 2018

Approaching Warning Signs


There is a possibility that I may have an adult boxing class full of Chicago's finest soon.  Sahia was approached by a police officer who was looking for a gym where he and his co-workers could box.  The officer said he used to box out of Lafollette 15 years ago.  The officers are looking for a group rate which I don't believe the park district offers.  However, I told Sahia to have them talk to Steve.  Maybe they could get a discount because they work for the city.

In light of all the crime that takes place inside and outside of the field house, I would appreciate having a bunch of boxers at LaFollette who are also cops.  Summer is coming, and the signs of approaching mayhem are already present.  I had to check some kids who had propped open the back crash door that leads down to the entrance of the gym.  The kids had an attitude because I locked and closed the door as I was leaving for the day.  That crash door leads directly to the parking lot and the park.  When a man was killed a few months ago in the park, I have no doubt that the person holding the gun ran into the building via that door.  Thankfully, the person didn't take the steps down to the boxing gym nor fired off shots elsewhere in the field house.  Unfortunately, most people around the field house have no respect for boundaries nor care about safety issues.  

Dexter tried to run a game on Sahia.  He asked her help in getting back into the boxing program, but Dexter told the same lies to her that were told to me.  Sahia pointed out that she was only the volunteer and that Dexter had to make amends to me as well as get his story straight.  I'm waiting for him to step to me -- which I doubt will happen -- so I can ask him what happened to that so-called rap career he claimed was going to "blow up" and keep him out of boxing anyway.  

My coach's bag is packed and ready for tomorrow's boxing show at Fosco Park.  It doesn't appear that I'm going to have anyone fighting at that show, however, so I probably won't need it.  Several didn't qualify to compete mostly because of non-attendance issues as well as lack of focus and motivation.  I keep repeating that those who don't train won't get to fight, but I'm not listened to until I actually forbid some from fighting which is what happened.  Some others who acted as if they wanted to fight can't make up their minds whether they will or not.  A few have said they won't.  Unfortunately, it has also come to my attention that a few of the youths are being pushed to box and are unfairly being compared to some of the other youths whom the parents/guardians believe are doing better.  

I'll probably end up judging fights at Fosco which is what usually happens when I have no fighters participating in a boxing show.  The spring session started off so well, but mid-point everything collapsed.  I don't have good feelings about the upcoming summer session.