Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wasted Time, Money, and Training

Deshaun works on the heavy bag in the photo above.

It was another quiet day in the gym.  Too quiet.  I understand that some people can't make it to the gym every day.  Unfortunately, that means I can't put some of them in boxing matches.  I get the feeling some parents/guardians believe their kids should get a shot at competing regardless of how infrequently their kids train.

It doesn't work like that, folks.

I can't in good conscious put a kid in a match who is not showing me much when they are in the gym.  Not every kid has natural talent.  Not every kid has the potential to be the next superstar boxer who sells out stadiums and generate high pay-per-view numbers.  Add to that the fact that most of the kids they may face from the other gyms have been training hard and making good use of their gym time.  But I'm not expecting perfection.  But I do give points for making an effort and showing motivation.  The kids who do that I will support and encourage them to do their best, even if they never bring home a trophy.

I can't muster up much enthusiasm for kids who act like they don't want to be in the gym.  Constant goofing around, talking more than listening, insisting on doing anything else in the gym other than boxing, displaying poor training habits, etc., are time wasters for both the kids and I.

As far as the adults are concerned, I can't make them stick to whatever promise they made to themselves to lose weight, get healthy, or learn to compete.  It's a shame that many pay the money, show up once or twice, then disappear.

Meanwhile, the gym is open when it is open, and I'm waiting to coach.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Michael Puts In The Work

The boy in the photo above is Michael.  The same Michael who seldom puts his wraps on right, doesn't want to do a full workout, and whines about sparring because "I don't want to get knocked out!"  Despite the fact the Michael often works my last nerve, I do like the kid.  He surprised me by not showing up with food in his hands.

Michael was the only one who showed up for the kids' class, so he and I sparred.  I wasn't wearing headgear or a mouthpiece, but I'm glad I took off my glasses.  Michael was going for my head a lot.  "Go for the body when fighting someone taller," I told him.  A good thing for him, because he got some good body shots in.  Rough for me, because I wasn't ready for some of those body shots.  Michael got me in the middle of my belly.  "Oof!" I went.  When he actually concentrates on putting muscle behind the punches, Michael can throw some hard ones.

"I like sparring with you, Miss Hillari," Michael said.  That's probably because I wasn't hitting him hard at all, and I let him get in a lot of shots on me.  I have a feeling that I will be sparring with him often.  But if that will get him used to the ring, and perhaps stop the running out of the ring when Michael is in there with the other kids, then I'll keep sparring with him.

Benjamin, in the photo above, was the only one who showed up for the teen class.  I told him about the City-Wide Tournament that is approaching.  "I don't think I'm ready for that," was Benjamin's stock answer.  "You've got two months to prepare for it," I pointed out.  "Well, maybe I will be ready for it," he said.  I hope so.  I'd like to have at least one person competing in that.

Bennie and Angela were the only two who showed up for the adult class.  Bennie has been there for a little while, but Angela is new.  Bennie is coming along; his punches are good, and his footwork is getting better.  Angela is a bubbly person who always wanted to box, but her dad wouldn't let her because of her gender. Now that she's an adult, she wants to be involved in the sport.  In many ways, the adults are more of a challenge than the youths.  Some of them, like Bennie, are thinking about competing, while others like Angela, just want to get in shape.  So I have to do my research and put my thinking cap on in order to help them reach their individual goals.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back Up From A Parent

Michael pushed my patience to the max at LaFollette.  As usual, Michael walked into the gym with food in his hand (a fudge bar).  TJ and Earl were looking to spar with someone.  TJ and Earl had done their warm up and were doing shadow boxing while Michael finished eating, then Michael took too long to wrap his hands.  I put Michael and TJ together to spar, but Michael refused.  He sat down in a chair, with his gloves, headgear and mouthpiece in, and refused to move.

When I pressed the issue, knowing that his mom and grandfather want him to learn how to fight, Michael began to whine, "I don't want to get knocked out!"  After more snapping from me, and encouragement from Jaylin, Michael slowly made it into the ring.  It wasn't long after the bell rang that Michael rolled out under the bottom rope, refusing to answer TJ's punches.  I ordered the boy to get back into the ring.  There was another long pause before that happened.  TJ barely tapped him, but Michael did a dramatic fall to the ground.

"Boy, he didn't hit you THAT hard," I said.  Michael sat on the canvas and refused to move.  I gave him two choices: either finish the round or leave the gym.  Michael opted for the latter.  TJ was disappointed, but I put Jaylin in with him.

Later, during the teen class, Michael returned to the gym with his mom.  I explained to her what happened.  She was not happy with her son.  "We try to teach him to fight at home, but it's not working," his mom told me.  Michael tried that same whining with her that he'd done with me, but she wasn't hearing it.  She told her son to behave and pay attention when he's in the gym.  I felt good that I had back up from his parent.

Ben Jr. returned to the gym.  He and Derrick Jr. did "shadow sparring" where they move around in the ring, throw punches, but don't actually hit each other.  Ben Jr. and his family won't be around much longer.  They're planning to move to the suburbs in a few weeks.  "I still want to come back around and see Miss Hillari," Ben Jr said.  That made me feel good.

Bright Red T-Shirts

Rachelle asked me about dealing with glasses and boxing while I was at Loyola Park last night.  "I just take them off and put them to the side.  I can see well enough without them to see a punch coming in," I said.  Some will fight with contacts in, but I've seen too many people lose those during sparring to take a chance on doing that.

Vachel came back to the gym.  I broke the sad news to her that Colonel passed on.  She didn't remember who he was at first.  "Remember the guy you used to joke with about playing 'fishing music' every time he played his old music in the gym?" I asked.  "Oh, no!  Not him!  Wow, cancer just keeps taking people out," she said.

I sparred with Kathy, and no, I still didn't do a good job of getting around her long arms.  I was able to get in some straight rights to her middle and right hooks to her sides, but that's all.  Most of the time, I missed trying to get those shots in. Kira did better when she sparred with Kathy, because she kept up better with hunting her around the ring than I could.

Alan showed me some old newspaper clippings and photos that an old college girlfriend of his sent to him.  The materials were all about his time boxing while he was in school forty years ago.  "Look at me with that mustache," he laughed.  "Yeah, the 70's porn mustache," I laughed.  I finally got a look at what his coach back then looked like.  The coach was a middle-aged African-American man.  "That guy was like a second father to me," Alan said.

Alan gave me the box of LaFollette Park boxing T-shirts that I couldn't easily take home the day of the boxing coaches' meeting.  They are nice shirts.  Coach James at LaFollette will probably say again, "Hey, those shirts are the wrong color.  They should be blue like the football team's color."  I have no say-so about how the shirts will look, but I'm liking the bright red color and the boxing logo on the front.  I'll have to take a few of them at a time to work, but all of them will be in the storage room by the time the Golden Gloves start in March.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Return of Janae

I thought it was going to be a long, quiet day in the gym.  But Deja and Terry showed up for the kids' class.  I thought it was amusing that Deja was undoing her hair.  She wears braids, and she wanted to wash her hair and have them redone.  Every few minutes, I saw her taking another braid out.

She and Terry sparred.  Terry is getting a little better each time.  I have to keep reminding him to take off his glasses before sparring, however.  Deja and Terry have to learn to take advantage of their opportunities and not wait on the other person to punch first.

Janae, who hasn't been in the program for a couple of sessions returned for the teen class, and she brought her brother, Montrell, with her.  Montrell was very eager to learn, and he sparred with his older sister.  I usually don't like letting people spar their first day in the gym, but I figured Montrell wasn't going to hurt her badly, and he didn't.  But Janae remembered the lessons she had the last time.  She clocked her brother solidly a coupled of times.

No adults came in, but it looks like the adult class has been given a green light to continue to run for the spring session.   A good amount of participants in the class during this session was enough to try it again for the spring.

Luckily, I found out that two of the heavy bags in the storage room did come with chains attached.  I'll ask one of the attendants to help me hang it up next week, then there will be five heavy bags up, plus the three speed bags that are already hanging.  Now I need some heavy rope so I can hang up the double end bag, and I should have enough equipment for people to work with for awhile.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Class Interrupted

Because everyone at the field house is not there at the same time, staff meetings are held at odd times.  A meeting took place in the middle of the eight-to-12 year olds' boxing class.  I hoped it would only run a few moments.  It ended up running until that class ended.

Before I went to the meeting, however, I had to once again contend with Michael about putting on the hand wraps.  Michael just about had one wrap almost all the way on when the whining started.  "I can't do this," he kept saying.  Michael refusal to focus and a tendency to want to be babied all the time was not something I was going to put up with yesterday.

Jaydon returned to class, which I was relieved about.  After that hit he took during sparring last Friday, I thought he would not attend class again.  The only other kid who showed up was Jaylin.  I had to leave them to their own devices when I went to the meeting.

The meeting cut into part of the teen class as well.  Meranda and her mother had just walked in.  I told them I would be back soon, but I ended up being gone another half-hour.  When I came back, Meranda was sitting next to her mother watching something on her mom's cell phone apparently for that entire half-hour.  She hadn't even put her hand wraps on.  When she finally did that, Meranda kept doing only the left jab and the straight right on the equipment, and not putting her punches all the way out.  "Meranda, you have to practice all of the punches, plus move around and stay on your toes," I said.  But Meranda continued not to show much motivation. She was the only teen who showed up for class.

I asked her mother once again about Laquan's (Meranda's cousin) whereabouts.  "Oh, he's been having a lot of basketball games," she said.  "I can't put Laquan in any boxing matches if he's not here training consistently," I said flatly.  Meranda's mother looked concerned, but I can't afford to take risks by pushing kids into fights for which they are not ready.  I'm not going to keep worrying about Laquan, Charles, or Elijah as all of them have the same excuse for not training in the gym.

I was happy to see Jessie and Yami show up for the adult class based on how unproductive the teen class was.  Both Jessie and Yami have pretty good form.  But Jessie gave me a bit of a scare yesterday.  "He didn't tell you what happened?" Yami asked me.  By that time, Jessie's dad and little brother had walked into the gym.  Jessie's dad look concerned about his son moving around.  Jessie had injured a muscle in his leg.  He told me the doctor said it was okay to work out, but I told Jessie if his leg is bothering him, he should take it very easy.  I worked on the punch mitts with Yami, but Jessie couldn't do it because his leg started giving him trouble.  Both Yami and Jessie were tired out, so they left early.

I have three boxing competitions to worry about:  the Golden Gloves (which any of the adult participants can register for), the City-Wide Boxing Tournament (that takes place in April), and the park district boxing shows (which start in mid-summer).  I understand I have to keep up with administrative issues because I work in a municipal/public gym.  But getting people ready for those competitions is more of a concern to me right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Fraternity of Coaches' Meeting

Only Earl, Jaylin, and TJ showed up for the kids' class today.  Earl kept whining because he didn't want to spar with TJ.  Jaylin had already said he didn't want to spar, and I wasn't going to spar with anyone.  Finally I told Earl that he wasn't going to be able to pick and choose opponents in the event that he has a regular match.  Earl and TJ went around for two rounds without either of them suffering any major damage.

The teen and adult classes were canceled out because I had to go to a boxing coaches' meeting.  When I think that I'm the only one having to deal with certain issues at the gym, it's nice to know that the other coaches have encountered those issues at well.  We help each other with suggestions as to how to handle those issues as they come up.

The parents as volunteers issue has always concerned me.  I appreciate the help, but they aren't official park district volunteers.  I let it go when the parents were helping their own kids, but that can't happen anymore.  Sometimes that turns into the parents helping other people's kids. . . .other parents might have an issue with someone around their kid other than the coach.  So I have to figure out a way to diplomatically request that parents stand aside and let the coach run the gym.  If the parents don't want to follow the rule, the only option they have is to leave the gym -- and perhaps take their children with them.

Actual park district volunteers can no longer run the gym when the coach is out.  Tommy, the head of the park district's boxing program, told us, "When you're not there, the gym is closed."  I used to open up Loyola Park gym when Steve was absent, and later on, for Alan.  In some ways that is good.  If something went wrong while the volunteer was in charge, the coach would also get blamed regardless of the fact they weren't there.  But on the other side, if the coach has to be off for whatever reason, the participants miss out on training because the volunteer can't run the gym in the coach's place.

Tommy gave all of the coaches boxes of T-shirts to give out to the boxing participants.  Thankfully, Alan kept my box in his car for me so I could pick it up from him next week.  Otherwise, I would have had to drag it home on the train.  I still have T-shirts from last year.  Not every participant received one; too few people showing up at the gym on a regular basis, and fewer than that actually competing.  This year, I might be able to give more of the T-shirts out.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wild, Wild West Side Sparring

Jaydon (in the red shirt) faces Earl during a sparring session, and it was not pretty.  Earl pleaded with me to not put him in with TJ (whom I mistakenly kept referring to as Tyrone) because he didn't want to take another shot to the nose.  I figured he would have an easier time with Jaydon, but it was a little too easy.  Jaydon kept dropping his hands, turning his head, and generally not defending himself.  Earl took advantage and kept socking Jaydon.  After Jaydon took a shot to the face, it was over.  Jaydon started crying, and I stopped the sparring.  I had to move on to the next sparring session quickly, so I didn't get a chance to talk to Jaydon about what happened and how we could fix it.

Terry didn't fare much better with TJ.  Terry was doing the same thing as Jaydon was, including throwing both of his fists out at once.  "One punch at a time!  Use the other hand to protect your face!" I admonished.  Terry kept turning his back on TJ.  "Stop, stop doing that!  Stop that habit!" I snapped.  Finally, after taking too many shots, Terry got a little angry.  I could see it in his face when he caught TJ in the ribs with a left hook.  "Good!  Keep doing that!" I said.

I put Deja in with Michael, but that didn't last long.  Michael started off the first round crouching down too low.  "She's taller than you, Michael.  Don't do that," I told him.  Deja was focused, measuring out the distances, and getting a lot of hits on Michael.  Michael kept covering up and backing into corners.  Michael was throwing wild punches, none of which reached Deja because she was always out of range.  Michael tried to run out of the ring but got caught up in the ropes.

Michael's mom wasn't having it.  "Boy, get up and fight!" she said.  The second round barely started before Deja got the best of him again.  Michael rolled out of the ring under the ropes.  "Get back in!" his mom said, but Michael shook his head.  That time, Michael's grandfather voiced his opinion.  "The next time he spars, put him in with that girl.  I ain't going for that boy playin'.  Let that girl beat Michael if he doesn't fight back.  That boy ain't gonna be embarrassing me.  I'm serious!" he told me.

Derrick Jr. returned to the gym, but didn't stay for the teen class that he's in.  But he was a great help to me in getting the equipment ready and helping the younger kids with their hand wraps.  As a favor to me, Derrick (on the right in the photo above) agreed to spar with Jaylin.  Jaylin is in sixth grade and a little too tall for most of the other kids in the class.

Jaylin always seems to do well when his dad is helping out with his training.  But Derrick Jr. proved to be too slick and fast for him.  Jaylin was hardly throwing punches at all, continually backing away and running from Derrick Jr.  Jaylin's dad was none too happy with his son's performance, and he kept urging his son to get into the mix.  Derrick Jr.'s punches made a mess out of Jaylin's face.  "Take it easy, Derrick!" I said, but Jaylin's dad didn't want to hear it.  "No, let them go.  It's good for Jaylin!" he said.  I wasn't about to let Jaylin get knocked out, however, no matter how much his father wanted him to keep pushing.

Several of the kids, Michael, in particular, kept going on about how Jaylin was bleeding.  "We see it!" I snapped, as I tried to keep focused on the action in the ring in order to keep further damage from happening.  They did a total of three rounds.

Then Michael's mother started talking about how her son needs to learn how to fight.  She told me about a couple of bullying incidents where some kids at school hit her son, but her son did not retaliate.  I could agree with her to an extent.  But sometimes I wonder if it's a good idea to always expect kids to fight back with exploring other alternatives with them.  My mother always told my younger siblings and I to "hit hard enough so they don't do whatever it was they did again".  But Ma often failed to tell us that sometimes, people have to pick their battles, and putting hands on every and anyone is not always the answer.

Deja and I had the last sparring session of the day, since her and Michael's time was cut short.  I told her to go in on me a little bit, and she did.  She's getting more comfortable in the ring.  Now I have to work on Michael, Jaylin, and Terry becoming more comfortable in there.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Ann Wolfe Moment

Now I have eight people in the adult boxing class.  Steve, the park supervisor, said, "We might have to add the adult class back onto the spring schedule."  I hope so, just as much as I hope those who are in it now continue on.

Benny, Darryl, and Dominick are three new guys in the class.  All three told me they wanted to get in shape and have something to occupy their time.  All are in their twenties.  As I faced them as I was holding the punch mitts for them, I had an Ann Wolfe moment.  She is a former professional boxer who is now a trainer, and she was training James Kirkland.  When those guys, three young bulls, were attacking the mitts, I felt like I was at the beginning of training some guys who will do well.

The adult class was busy when Kier, one of the kids who plays football and basketball, sauntered into the gym.  Kier has an annoying habit of touching everything in any room that he's in.  He was fiddling around with the equipment on the table, while going on about the basketball game, and anything else that popped into his mind.  I was giving him "uh-huh" and "hmm", hoping that the kid would take the hint and leave.  He didn't notice my lack of responsiveness.  I was keeping my eye on the adults and stepping in whenever I saw they needed help.  I told him it was the adults' time in the gym.  Yet he still asked me, "Are they all adults?"  I refrained from rolling my eyes.

"Kier, you can't be in here because this is the adult class.  They paid to workout in here," I told him.  Thankfully, the kid left without any further conversation or whining.

The time that the teen class takes place looks like it's going to be an extended break time for me in-between the kids' and the adults' class.  No sign of Merinda, Jaquan, Kody, or Derrick Jr.  It bothers me when some of the teens' parents ask me, "How is my kid doing in here?" and I can't give them an answer because I haven't seen them.  Even more of a concern is the probability that the teens may be telling their parents, "Yeah, I'm going to the gym," but they are actually elsewhere, and the parents don't know that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Ice Cube Said In That Song

I fixed the snafu involving one of the kids who did not appear on my attendance sheet.  Another staff member, I don't know who, filled out a paper form when the parent came in and did not transfer the information to the computer system.  I had already told the parent that their child was welcome to continue in the class regardless, but luckily, we both found out that they were actually registered.

It was another busy day with eight of the thirteen kids who are in the eight-to-twelve year olds' class.  Another new kid, Jaydon, came in.  "I want to spar with Terry on Friday.  We go to the same school, and we're both in third grade,"  he told me.  Terry is a little skinny guy.  Jaydon is heavy-set.  I will have to monitor that sparring session very, very carefully.

Michael was playing around a little too much, consistently teasing Deja.  Deja asked me, "Can I spar with Michael on Friday?"  "Yes!" I answered enthusiastically.

I had all of the kids working on footwork.  I put the cones on the floor, and one of the boys commented, "This is the same thing we do when we play football!" The kids really seemed to like skipping and jumping over the cones, so I'll find time for them to do that in each class.

None of the teens came in, so I had some time to do some paperwork.  Jesse signed up for the adult class today and came back in with his dad.  Jesse's dad used to box, so he was also giving tips to his son.  A young woman, Yami, came in, and at first I thought she just wanted to ask questions about the class. Actually, she also had signed up.  That brings the grand total of the adults in the class to seven, the largest amount of adults I've had since that class was added.   Both Jesse and Yami are eighteen years old.  Jesse's nine year old brother, Rafael, came in to watch.

Today was a good day, because a lot was accomplished.  I'd like to keep that momentum going.

Attention and Attendance

Ah, Michael. . . . such a likable kid, but it seems he wants attention all the time.  I wondered if Michael was an only child, but I remember him telling me that he does have at least one sibling who is younger than he.  We went through the usual back and forth about his hand wraps, which the boy still can't seem to to learn how to use.  Every time the wraps came loose, Michael was next to me, pestering me to fix them.  He was also asking me a thousand and one questions while I was trying to concentrate on the kids who were sparring.  Michael scooted out of the gym as soon as he learned the game room was open.  

A check of the attendance lists shows that I have thirteen kids in the eight-to-twelve year olds' class.  That's too many, in light of the fact that the park district has said that none of the classes may have more participants than is stated.  I suspect that other staff at the field house signed up those extra kids and just overrode the class limit on the computer system.  I also believe that one of the kids is not actually signed up as their parent told me.  I re-printed the attendance list for that class a second time to better reflect who is in the class.  That kid's name didn't show up.  That is now a sticky situation for me. I don't want to create conflict with the parent.  I may have to let that kid in to ease the situation.

Dan Jr.'s father showed up to ask if there was any way I could fit his son in the class.  One of the staff gave me the impression that he had shown up a few days ago to attempt to register.  I asked the staff member to let the dad know the class was full.  I had extensive conversations with Dan Sr. before about registration times and the importance of signing up Dan Jr. as soon as possible.  People are busy -- I get that.  But I don't understand what parents don't understand about deadlines.

I also don't understand what some parents don't get about making sure their kids are in class on time.  Tardiness throws off the schedule, especially on the days when sparring takes place.  There has to be enough time to warm up and shadowbox beforehand.  Both Earl and Tyrone were late, so all they had time to do was a quick warm up.

Tyrone proved to be a scrapper when he was sparring with Earl.  I would have let them go three rounds, but Earl would not come out the corner when the bell rang. His parents and I kept asking him what was wrong.  Earl kept shaking his head.  Finally, he spoke up and let us know that his nose was hurting.  Tyrone had caught him in the face.  There was no bleeding, fortunately, but Earl was down about having taken the shot.  Earl was done for that day.  He put his coat on and sat in a chair until class was over.

Now I have five adults in the adult boxing class, but only one, Bridgette, showed up to train.  She had been missing most of last week; work was to blame. Marisha hasn't been coming because of work, either.  I see where Dan (another Dan) signed up again, but it's doubtful that he's going to participate this session, either.  A pair of brothers signed up, too, but they didn't make it in.  Another person, Benny, told me he was going to sign up.

Then there's Kody.  His mom knows the eight-to-twelve class is full, so there's no room for her son.  Kody, like Michael, is another likable kid who just won't do what they are supposed to do when they are in the gym.  I had communicated that to Kody's dad some time ago.  However, it looks like both parents still want him in the class.  Kody will not be thirteen until the summer.  His mom explained again that Kody doesn't get out of school until later, so he would not be able to be on time to the earlier class anyway.  I proposed that she enroll him in the teen class.  If there is a problem, I can override the system to put him in.

However, I continue to have concerns about Kody playing around and interfering with the other teens who actually do train when they are there.  Kody has not indicated that he wants to compete.  Fine, but I don't want the other teens being distracted from their goals of winning fights.

Found out yesterday that my flyer for the boxing class is finally done.  I put in the request back in the middle of November, and the winter class has already started.  Steve has to make copies, however, because whoever made the flyer didn't do so.  They just emailed him the finished product.  Sigh. . .it doesn't take much for me to become irritated.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I'm A Six-Day Gal

I was surprised to see snow coming down when I left my apartment for the gym. All day long, I stayed inside, throwing out old clothes and books.  Neither the radio nor the television was on, so I didn't hear the weather reports.  The snow did not keep most people away from Loyola Park, however.

Leon sparred with Robert.  "Leon could head hunt all day with no problem," I thought as I watched them.  Leon is taller and bigger than anyone else.  Alan warned Leon to keep his punches above the belt when a few of the punches came in too low.  Robert stayed in for the three rounds, but he was struggling.  "That is tiring!" Robert said afterwards.

David sparred with another new guy in the gym, and moved around well.  Alan commented, "For someone who hasn't boxed in about seven years, he has good hands."

I sparred with both Kathy and Kira.  The two women presented two different challenges to me -- getting around Kathy's long arms, and avoiding Kira's heavy hands.  Kathy was moving fast around the ring, so I had hustle my bones to keep up with her.  Kira is heavier (not fat, however) than both Kathy and I.  Alan initially didn't want to put me in with her because of my movement limitations.  Like Kathy, he advised me not to trade punches with her.  So I took my time, and came in under her straight punches to attack her middle.

I also spent time involved me helping people use the equipment.  I work five days at LaFollette, but I also help out at Loyola Park when I'm there, so in reality, I coach six days a week.  But I enjoy it so much.  I could be in a gym seven days a week, but everybody needs a Sabbath day of rest.

In other news, I was very pleased last night to see Sylvester Stallone win a Golden Globe for his acting in the movie Creed.  He received a standing ovation when he got up to get the award.  "My imaginary friend, Rocky Balboa, is the best friend I've ever had," Stallone said.  A lot of real life boxers view the Rocky character as a boxing icon, and give Stallone respect as if he was a real boxing champ.  Stallone was good in that movie.  He deserved the honor.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Laying Out The Rules

In the photo above, Tyrone and Earl work with weights at LaFollette Park.

I have begun to re-enforce the rule that no one can spar if they don't have their mouth pieces with them.  Unfortunately, Deja and her brother Terry forgot theirs, so they couldn't spar.  Michael kept bugging me about wanting to spar with Jaylin, who is way too tall and big for him.  I ended up sparring with Michael, who kept head-hunting and relying too much on his right hook.  Michael was giggling a lot and turning his back on me as well.  We have to work on changing those habits.

I sparred with Jaylin at the suggestion of his dad.  I had to watch out.  Jaylin is about 12 years old, but he's taller than me, and his punches are heavy.  I got caught in the ribs many times.  I appreciate that his dad works with him while his son is in the gym.

Dan Jr. missed out on signing up for the kids' class, which is now full.  I told that boy to make sure to tell his dad to get to the field house ASAP to sign him up.  Either Dan Jr. didn't tell his dad in enough time, or dad drug his feet, thinking he had a lot of time.  Deshaun's mom forgot to sign her nephew up as well.  The kids' class has consistently been the most popular of the three classes I coach.  I keep telling the parents and guardians in so many words, if they snooze, they lose.

I've also changed how I coach the kids to an extent.  Now, all the new kids who come in get taught a couple of punches each day.  I had a habit of showing them all the punches in one day.  Many of the kids would begin showing up sporadically to class from day one.  I figured if I didn't at least teach all of the punches at one time, the kids would have problems catching up later on.  But I can't rush through techniques just because some kids don't show up regularly to the gym.

A few kids kept asking me where this kid or that kid was.  "I don't know why they aren't here.  I'm not going to call any one's house to find out where they are. I figure if they signed up, they really wanted to be here," I replied.  I said that last bit especially for the parents who were in the room.  Some of them are responsible for bringing their kids in because the kids can't get there on their own (or the parents don't want them going there on their own).  I want to make it clear if their kid doesn't train on a regular basis, I'm not about to put them in a real match with someone else who takes training seriously.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Boxing Resolutions

I know this is a little late, because I haven't put much interest into making New Year's resolutions for several years now.  However, I've had some things on my mind.

1.  I used to allow extra kids into the youth boxing classes, especially during the summer, even if the classes were already full.   Praise God that the Chicago Park District sent the word out that instructors and recreation leaders can no longer do that.  No matter how much parents beg to put their kid in, I will not bend to pressure.  If that doesn't force most parents to keep up with when registration begins, I can't help them.

2.  I'm going to continue to measure out whom I'm giving my attention to in the gym.  I will bend over backwards to help those who really and truly want to be there.  But those who keep playing around, whose attendance is scattered for no good reason, who aren't self-motivated, etc., I'm not going to put all my energy into trying to keep them focused.  Either they want to be there, or they don't.

3.  I'm not going to make myself crazy by believing that every one who talks about signing up for the gym actually will do that.  Some of the kids have annoyed me with that because they never tell their parents -- whom I must have permission from -- that they want to be in the class.  But they keep whining to me about putting them in.  Many adults talk themselves out of the class with the same breath they've told me that they want in.  "I don't know if I can make that time," is one of the many excuses I keep hearing.  When they actually sign up, then I will take them seriously.

4.  I will continue to put the hammer down on those who aren't in the class, but want to goof around with the equipment.  It took awhile, but fortunately, I have managed to train some not to do that.  Coach James, whose equipment storage area is also located in the boxing gym, has helped me with that as well.  But there's always someone who didn't get the memo, and I will have to check them.

5.  I'm not dealing with those who have problems with a woman being a boxing coach.  The other twenty boxing gyms in the Chicago Park District system are run by men.  The majority of the private boxing gyms are run by men.  People are free to go to another gym if a) they believe I'm not qualified, and b) people have issues about taking orders from a woman.

6.  I'm going to keep training myself, because I need to keep improving my skills in order to teach them to others.  I also need to get my health in order.

7.  I'm going to read more about boxing, attend more live matches, watch more matches on TV, as well as watch the numerous videos of fights and techniques online so I may keep myself educated.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Worrisome Kid

There was an episode of "Good Times" where JJ was really getting on the nerves of his dad, James.  James told his son, "Boy, you are some worrisome!"  I was thinking that while dealing with Michael in the gym today.

Michael came in, hopped up to me, and announced, "I'm late!"  He proceeded to spend most of the class fooling around with his hand wraps.  Several times, Michael kept whining, "I can't. . . .I don't know how to do this!"  "Michael, I've already showed you how to do that many times.  I am not going to wrap your hands every time you come in here.  You have to learn how to do that yourself!" I said as evenly as I could.  Yelling and snapping doesn't work with a lot of kids, something I've had to learn the hard way.  I also had to remember how I didn't appreciate either of my parents doing that to me.

However, even after both Devian and David attempted to show him how to wrap his hands, Michael didn't wasn't getting the concept.  Michael kept wrapping his arms instead of wrapping his wrists, wrapping his thumb too many times, etc.  "This is your wrist, Michael," I said in exasperation, as I pointed to it.  "Don't they teach parts of the body in school anymore?"  "No! That's why I don't know," he answered.  I shook my head to myself, took a deep breath, and patiently showed him again.  Michael still didn't get it right.

I had forgotten that David takes swimming class once a week, which is why he wasn't in the gym yesterday.  I was glad to see him.  I was glad to see Dan Jr., too, but unfortunately, his dad neglected to sign him up for the winter session.  I told Dan Jr. to make sure his dad signs him up as soon as possible.  Then Kody strolled into the teen class later.  "Miss Hillari, I have a question.  Can I still sign up for class?" he asked.  "I need your parents' permission.  Ask them to call me or have one of them come here to sign you up," I told him.  Maybe that won't happen, especially after his dad learned how Kody plays in the gym instead of training.

Only Meranda showed up for the teen class.  No sign of her cousin Jaquan nor Derrick Jr.  Her mom asked if she could work out with her daughter due to her own scheduling issues.  Park district won't allow that, so her mom has to figure out what days she can attend the adult boxing class.

No one showed up for the adult class.  But just as I figured, now that the class is not on the schedule for the spring, I'm receiving a lot of inquiries about signing up for the winter class.  I've been telling everyone, "Sign up now, because if it looks like no one is interested, the park district will discontinue the class."  I really want to save that class, but if the adults keep promising to sign up, but not following up on those promises, there's not much I'm going to be able to do.

Winter's New Challenges

Don't get me wrong.  I like Michael, one of the new kids in the gym.  He signed up early, and I allowed him to start training during the break period between the fall and winter sessions.  But does that boy love to run his mouth.  Plus, Michael doesn't listen.  When it comes to putting on the hand wraps, Michael seems to think I'm going to put them on him every time he shows up.  My patience was being tried when he kept saying, "I don't know how to do this," even though I gave very clear instructions about how to use the wraps.  Michael also jetted out of the gym early to go hang out in the game room, which is down the hall.

Outside of Michael, Devian and two new kids, Deja and Terry, showed up for the eight-to-twelve year olds' class.  I was disappointed when David didn't show up. I'm hoping he comes in soon.  That class only has one slot left open before it is full.

I'm already worried about Jaquan, who along with his cousin Meranda, signed up for the teen boxing class.  His aunt Marisha said something about him also playing football as well.  Coach James had suggested that he also participate in another sport in addition to boxing.  If that happens, that'll yet be another kid who won't be showing up consistently in order to learn boxing skills.  As I held pads for them, I noticed that Meranda had more pepper on her punches than Jaquan did.  We'll see how long the interest lasts for the both of them.

There's only three teens in that class so far; Derrick Jr. didn't come in yesterday. I'm hoping he can convince his cousin Kishaun to return as well.

Surprisingly, the adult class showed some signs of life.  There's only two signed up -- Jaquan's aunt and Bridgette.  Bridgette was the only person who showed for that class, and she really liked it.  I was impressed when she told me she had lost 80 pounds doing other exercise program.  "I still have more to go, and I need someone who's going to show me what to do," she told me.

The adult class is still on hiatus for the upcoming spring session due to lack of a high number of participants.  Maybe if I can re-position it as an aerobic boxing class, more people might register.  That may not go over so well with some adults who may be considering competing.  It would attract other adults who don't want to spar and just want to get in shape.

I've been slacking off on exercise these past two weeks, so I plan to work out with the adult class to get back on track.  Whatever I'm telling them to do, I need to do myself.  That also may encourage others to stay in the class as well as encourage their friends and relatives to sign up.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Busy Start To 2016

In the above photo, Alan stands in the middle of the ring at Loyola Park with the new people who signed up for boxing.  This week begins the winter session at the Chicago Park District.

Alan, David, and Connor were already in the gym when I arrived.  A couple of new people showed up, and I thought, "Wow, that's all?"  "Alan, what do you need me to do to help?" I asked.  "It depends on how many people come in," he answered.  Then a whole lot of people started streaming in.  Of the people who came in, there were two who hadn't been in the gym for awhile:  Deb and St. Louis.  In fact, I had seen St. Louis at Colonel's funeral, and initially didn't recognize him there.

I got in some licks on the heavy bag before Alan turned the newbies loose on the equipment.  After that, I alternated between answering questions from the new people and helping the guys who sparred get suited up.  One of the new guys decided he wanted to spar his first day there.  Alan allowed him to get into the ring with Connor.  Another new guy, a second guy in the place named David, also sparred.  I learned that David was Alan's third cousin.

Rochelle, another new person, wanted to see some women's boxing matches.  "Where can I go to see them?" she asked.  "It's hard to find them, because women fighters are not often featured in boxing shows, not even on the under cards," I explained.  But I did tell her about the Chicago Park District boxing shows, and the private boxing shows.  I also directed her to places on the Internet to get notices about upcoming fights in the area.  Next time I see her, I'll remember to tell her about the matches she can see on YouTube.

St. Louis wanted me to throw punches at him while he practiced defense.  We were in the ring for two rounds.  I had to push myself to keep up with him because he was really moving around.

Tomorrow, I will face my own set of newbies at LaFollette.  I hope them and the returning kids all show up so we can get things started off right.