Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saving Face

I had been out sick for the past couple of days, so it was catch up time in the gym.  Sparring began for the eight to 12 year olds in the gym.

One kid took a couple of rough hits.  The second time I checked to see if he was okay, I noticed the kid's eyes were red.  The kid was holding back tears.  I could have said, "Oh, don't cry," and other similar remarks.  However, that's not what that kid needed or wanted to hear from me.  "Do you want to do another round?" I asked, and the kid shook his head.  "The both of you all did good.  We'll go over it again tomorrow," I said, taking the kid's gloves and hand wraps off.

If I had played a mommy role and started soothing him, it's possible I could have embarrassed the kid.  The kid may have made a decision not to come back to the gym.  Instead, he took a permission form to take home to his parents to sign.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Kind of Coach Is This?

Yes, I have frustrating moments with the kids in the gym.  But I don't want to act like Eric Kelly.
I'm surprised the guys in that gym keep coming back.  This doesn't look like joking around to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Hey Coach!"

One of the guys in the teens' class called out "Hey Coach!"  I think that was the first time any of the youths in the gym have referred to me in that way.  That particular guy wants to be in the Golden Gloves.  Unfortunately, he's got to wait awhile; the guy is only 13, and people have to be at least 16 years old to enter.  But hopefully, with hard work, we'll get there.

The teens (13 to 17 year olds) have been sparring since day one.  I had to make an adjustment in my lesson plans to accommodate their energy.  While they spar, I act as referee and give pointers.  Right now, that seems like an easier way to keep their focus as opposed to just having them line up and practice punches.

I wish the younger kids (8 to 12 year olds) had more focus than most of them do.  For example, there are a few kids there because their parents/guardians forced them to take up the sport.  It shows in how they barely listen to me, the constant distractions they keep up in the gym, and the near-zero interest they have in wanting to learn.  Some kids are just hanging in there because their friends are there.  One 12 year old girl announced to her buddies that she didn't want to learn how to box because she didn't want anyone thinking that she was a man.  I was surprised when she returned to the gym on another day, but she clearly doesn't have much interest in boxing.  She didn't sign up, and I'm going to start clearing out everyone who hasn't.  I'm open to letting youths come in to try it out, but using the gym for a hangout spot every day?:  No, I don't think so.  Especially when I've got a few participants in there who are a little more serious.  I don't need the others who are not signed up in there creating distractions.  There are other activities in the field house they could participate in.

During the teens' class, the boys were doing some fast circuit training, running from bag to bag, and flipping over the lone tire in the gym.  One of them asked me to do it, after another of the boys had stopped in the middle, complaining about being tired.  After I went through it a couple of times, the other boys told the boy who stopped, "She did that better than you!"  Of course, my left knee paid for that later, but I was surprised I could still sprint.

I passed out fliers again at Young, an elementary school not far from the field house.  A lot more enthusiasm was displayed by both the girls and boys for the boxing class than it was among those I passed out flyers to at Lewis.  I still have to go to Hay, another nearby school, to pass out flyers. DePriest, the grade school I attended from the early to mid 1970's, is on my list, too.  It's in the area, but not very close to LaFollette.  I'm still debating whether it would be worth it to pass flyers there.

Today, while visiting one of the churches I've been checking out, I ran into Michael, who's Montrell's brother.  Montrell was the star of Loyola Park's youth boxing program.  Montrell recently competed in a USA Boxing tournament, but Michael hadn't heard if he had won or not.  "You're still competing?" he asked me.  "I would like to, but between my insurance job and the coaching job, I don't have much room to train for fights," I replied.  It got me to thinking -- maybe there could be an "old timers" boxing match for charity.  I need to start thinking about fundraising for the gym anyway.  That could be an idea.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Selling Boxing To The Girls

I found another Cobra bag at the field house.  The base is filled with water.  I pushed it out of the storage room where it was located into the gym area.  Only three youths showed up, and they had fun knocking the bag around.

Yesterday, I received the boxing fliers, so I hurried over to Lewis, the closest grade school to LaFollette Park, to hand them out.  Most of the boys were happy to get the fliers.  A few of them showed up in the gym not long after they got a flier.  The girls were a different story.  One girl's eyes widened in terror.  "Oh, no!  I don't want to box!" she said, as she rushed away.  Another girl said smugly, "I already know how to fight."  "Not in the ring you don't," I told her.

I never liked fighting with girls when I was in grade and high school.  Most every girl fought the same -- wild windmill and round house punches.  Then came the scratching and hair pulling.  I remember some girls taking off their shoes and hitting people with those.  I didn't know how to box back then, but I would wait for an opening then, boom, try to knock them to the ground.  I cut one girl's chin open with my fist back in third grade.  We're currently friends on Facebook.  I don't know if she remembers the fight.  After all, that was 44 years ago.

Looks like I'm going to have a boxing program that is filled predominately with males.  Currently, there are two girls in the 12 and under class, but I wish there were more.  It's tough to get the girls interested.  But I know this -- the females who are involved in boxing and stick with it have an edge to them.  A lot of them are tomboys.  Unfortunately, boxing is a tough sell to "girly" girls and women.  Nothing wrong with being very feminine.  However, it seems that the females who are very feminine don't last long in the gym, if they sign up.

I guess the best way to convince the girls to come in is to talk up the health benefits of the sport while assuring them that they do not have to spar if they don't want to spar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Twins and the Football Team

I was hopping at the gym.  Three moms came in to sign up their kids for boxing.  I'm particularly looking forward to coaching three of the kids, two six year old boys and their eight year old sister.  The two boys were very animated, while their sister, the voice of reason, smiled, looked at them and shook her head.  I felt like I was in a comedy show with the two boys, who were proud to show me their various scars.  After they all left, I looked at the sign up form and wondered why their mother listed both of her sons as having the same birthday.  Then it dawned on me that the boys were twins.  But I could tell them apart.  That will be helpful when they come in next week.

The teenagers returned, but not the 15 year old girl who was in the other day.  It was all boys, and all they wanted to do was spar, so I let them.  But at the same time, the football coach brought his team in for conditioning exercises.  It was quite a juggling act, keeping an eye on the teens while giving exercises to the team.  I ran out of exercises after awhile, so I taught them the punches.

Looks like the word has gotten out, and now, I'm getting a rush of kids and teens in.  I still don't have the boxing fliers, but Steve, the supervisor, promised he would pick them up for me tomorrow.  I have to alert the parents that the current times are only for the fall and winter sessions.  By spring, an adult session will probably be added.  Unfortunately, the younger kids time will have to be cut by at least a half-hour when that happens.  But the more I work with those under age 12, the more I realize that an hour is really all they need.

The teens will need the hour and a half, especially since most of them have expressed an interest in getting matches.  A couple of the teens who came in will be 16 years old before the end of the year.  I told them it was a little late to try to get a fight at the park district tournaments, which are happening now.  But then can set their sites on next year's Chicago Golden Gloves.  However, they have to start training for it now.

The adults, even though most of them probably will not compete, are going to need to have an hour and a half.  They are going to want to feel that they've received enough time for whatever fee they will have to pay.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Here Come The Teenagers

In this photo that was taken back in 2008, Barry (in the blue shirt) works with Edward in the ring at Loyola Park.

I think one of the little girls in the boxing class is gone.  Her mother no longer works at the field house, having found another job.  The other girl, an eight year old, showed up, but the two boys, aged eight and ten, did not.  Near the end of the kids' class, three 15 year olds, two boys and a girl, walked into the gym.  They wanted to spar despite not being signed up for the class.  I was glad to see some teenagers, so I obliged them.

Turns out that the teenage girl knew more than the teenage boys.  She knew all of the punches, and while sparring light with one of the boys, she caught him several times.  "I used to take boxing at my school, and I also took boxing at a school I used to go to in Milwaukee," she explained.  I sure hope she comes back to the gym.

The boys then lightly sparred with each other, and quickly found out that boxing is not as easy as it looks.  The eight year old girl kept trying to tell the older boys what to do.  I acted as referee, but the little girl was also in the ring.  Finally, I had to tell her she couldn't be in the ring while others were sparring.  After the boys got tired out, the little girl asked me if she could spar with one of the teenage boys.  "Oh, no," I said, explaining to her that she has to spar with kids her own age.

Alan called me last night.  I took the opportunity to ask him how to keep kids under age 12 focused while they are in the gym.  "Keep them busy with exercises and drills," he said.  I've got to constantly be on the lookout for activities to keep the younger kids interested, especially since I don't have all the equipment I need.  It would also help to have more younger kids in the class.  The boxing fliers are coming soon, so hopefully, that class will become full.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yay! The Boys Came In

For the past few weeks, I've only had two girls who show up to the eight to twelve year old boxing class on a fairly regular basis.  The girls have a slight interest in boxing, and it's been tough to keep them focused.  "If only I had some boys in here who would show a little more interest than the girls," I kept thinking to myself.

Two answers to my prayers happened.  Earlier this week, I learned that the fliers for the boxing class are finally done.  I received a copy of what they will look like.  The should be in my hands next week so I can distribute them to the schools.  Then two boys, aged ten and aged eight, walked into the gym.

I had been a little tired all afternoon.  I was nodding off on the bus on the way to LaFollette Park.  When no kids had showed up at all, I figured it was going to be a slow time.  I was sitting alone in the gym, ready to nod off again.  Then the two boys came in with their mom, and I perked up immediately.  The boys were in the middle of learning the punches, when one of the girls ran in late.

She has been the only kid in the gym for awhile, and she had become used to doing what she wanted to do, most of which has nothing to do with boxing.  I just rode it out because eventually I knew other kids would show up.  In fact, I had told the girl that more kids were on the way.  The two boys were very interested in learning the basics, while the girl jumped from one thing to another.  Then, after only having been in the gym for about ten minutes, the girl left to go to cheer leading practice.

I went through all the six main punches with the boys, including some pad work.  I also showed them footwork.  We went kind of quickly, but the next time they come in, we will review the punches again.  I also want to start them on learning combinations in the next class. Their mother was concerned about them sparring.  I promised her that would be a few weeks off, and only if her sons wanted to do it.  No sense in me putting kids in the ring too early.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Exercise and More Kids

At last count, I had four kids in the 8-to-12 year old boxing class, but none in the teens' class.  One girl has begun to show up with some consistency, but the other kids haven't been to the class for days.  I think there is some confusion about when the gym is open.  I typed up a brief info sheet for parents to let them know not only the times of the class, but what the kids will need for the gym.

The sheet came in handy when the little girl's father came in to see how she was doing.  It was also helpful when a woman came in with her two sons, one eight years old, and the other 10 years old.  She told me that her sons are also involved in other activities.  Most of the kids who hang around the field house are, not just at the field house but at the schools they attend.  I told the woman that I don't expect the youths to attend every class during the week, but they should attend at least two times a week.  She agreed, and hopefully, her sons will be in the gym tomorrow.

There's a mat in the gym now, so floor exercises like push-ups and crunches can be done.  According to my lesson plan, floor exercises should have been going on for awhile.  I just now started introducing the one student I have to doing warm-up exercises.  I thought that I would be standing off to the side and directing the exercise segments.  The one girl in the class likes when I do the exercises with her.  I hadn't done push ups or crunches in awhile.  It left me sore, and made me realize I need to resume doing those exercises.