Saturday, August 09, 2014

Back To The West Side

After finishing up work at my first job yesterday, I took a bus ride out to the west side to get a look at my new second job will I will begin next week.  The La Follette field house is located over in Austin, a neighborhood I lived in from the time I was eight years old up until I was fifteen years old.

I believe one of the advantages that I will have as a coach is that I will be able to relate to the situations and issues that some of the youths may be facing daily.  I have a lot of good memories about growing up in Austin during the 1970's.  It's not an area without troubles, however.  A lot of the same issues:  gangs, drugs, fractured families, etc., that went on back then still go on now.  My younger siblings and I avoided a lot of stuff mainly because our mother had zero tolerance for many behaviors.  But I understand that not everyone grows up the same way.  I also haven't forgotten from where I came.

There were kids hanging in and around La Follette, but the field house seemed rather quiet.  The first area I checked out was the swimming pool.  Several Chicago parks do have pools, but it's always a surprise to me when I come across one.  The pool is a nice one.  Staff was cleaning it as I looked on.  If only I could swim.  One of these days, I'll take lessons.

I wandered around the building, wondering where the boxing gym was.  Remembering that the gym at Hamlin Park is basically in the basement, I decided to take the stairs down to the ground floor.  I gasped when I saw the room -- it's way bigger than the gym at Loyola Park.  The room is circular, and a half-completed ring stood in the middle, the canvas on the floor, just like the old ring at Loyola.  The only equipment I saw was a heavy bag, an old double end bag, and an uppercut bag.  An old radio was also in the room.  No gloves or headgear were to be seen.  Perhaps they were stored in another area.  I didn't see any lockers, either.   "I'm going to have to put in an order for more equipment," I thought to myself.

A few signs on the wall referring to boxing workouts were up, including a few boxing posters of past fights.  I'll have to dig out some of my old boxing posters to further decorate the walls.

It won't be a jarring change being the person in charge.  I've held jobs where I was a supervisor, as well as being the second in command when the boss was unavailable.  It won't be a major switch working with kids in addition to adults.  I've had jobs where I worked around kids, and I was a substitute teacher in the Evanston School District at one point. The big adjustment will be getting used to being in a different gym. I've been at Loyola Park since the year my younger sister passed away.  That was twelve years ago.

I'll have to learn new names and new faces.  I'm already missing the old faces.

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