Saturday, April 30, 2016

Coaches' Heartbreak

Finally figured out how to get photos off of my raggedy cell phone.  The picture above is of Barry and I during an opening party for Fernando Rivera's boxing gym in Evanston.  I believe the party was last summer.

Yesterday, only Brenan and Suave showed up for the youth class at my gym.  I can't seem to get Brenan out of the habit of running from an opponent and turning his back.  Whenever Brenan turned his back, his hands were down.  He'd look over his shoulder, and Suave would catch Brenan in the face with one or more punches.  "His nose is bleeding," his dad said.  "Again?" I replied.  The sparring went on for another round.  Suave was feeling very confident at the end, I could tell, but Brenan was sniffling as tears rolled down his cheeks.

Today, Earl showed up -- late -- and (in my Gomer Pyle voice) surprise, surprise, had his mouthpiece.  But the only other two who came to class, Brenan and Suave, did not have theirs, so Earl was out of luck that time.

Nay came in late for the adult class.  But I have to give her credit because she is focused.  Her form is not bad.  Nay and I have something in common.  The both of us were always in fist fights with others when we were younger.  I don't see a lot of fear in her when it comes to throwing punches, and that is a plus.  Too bad that the others in the adult class don't come in regularly or else, she could spar.

Suave said something about wanting to switch to MMA.  On top of TJ and Earl telling me they may not sign up for the summer class, all I could do is sigh inwardly.  It's heartbreaking when you have kids who have potential, but they decide not to continue on in the sport.  Sometimes, they return.  Most of the time, the kids get lured away by another activity or sport, never to look back.  It leaves the coach to wonder what might have been.

I threw my old boxing shows out today.  It was time.  The left shoe was really banged up, and I couldn't figure out why.  The sole was completely worn down, while the right sole didn't have much wear and tear.  The right shoe did have other spots where it was wearing away.  Well, in order to receive something new, I have to throw something away.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

X Doesn't Mark The Spot

X didn't darken the door of my gym today.  Maybe he thought long and hard about me telling him that I wasn't about to jeopardize my job by bending the rules for him and his kid.  I don't dig entitlement attitudes.  But I have a feeling that chapter isn't over yet.  I'm just glad that my boss knows what's up with X so that I now have some backup.  I remember that X's son said something about being in baseball.  I'm trying to figure out how X thought his son was going to be able to do two sports at once.

TJ and Earl showed up nearly a half and hour late.  Jermaine kept pointing it out until I gave him a "shut up" look.  The excuse I was given by the cousins was that they had to do their homework and that a relative dropped them off late.  "I understand that things happen, but y'all can't continue to make a habit of this.  That's especially going to be true when this class is cut down to an hour this summer," I told them.  But then, those two may not be in the class next session.  Earl had spoken of playing baseball, and TJ was talking about swimming class.

Jermaine continues to be sloppy.  I lost count of how many times I told him to stay in his stance while using the heavy bag and while shadowboxing.  There's no sense of focus with that kid.  While I held the punch mitts for him, he couldn't seem to tell his right hand from his left.  Earl was standing on the apron of the ring, and Jermaine had a side conversation with him during the round.  "Uh, you can't talk to people while in the ring," I told the boy.  I also made him take off a pair of sunglasses he was wearing.  "Is it sunny in here?" I asked sarcastically.

Moments later, Jermaine was going on about how he was being distracted.  TJ, Earl, and Suave were laughing and throwing the medicine ball around.  Jermaine felt he couldn't concentrate because of it.  "During the boxing shows, people in the audience are going to be yelling out all types of things.  Jermaine, you are going to have to learn to block it out," I told him.  The kid kept dropping his hands during punch mitt practice.  I got tired of reminding him to keep his hands up, so I cuffed his right ear with a mitt.  It's a tactic that a lot of coaches use to get a boxer's attention.  I remember Alan doing that to me once at Loyola Park.  "Ow!" Jermaine protested.  "And that is exactly what the person you will face in a regular fight will do if you keep dropping your hands," I pointed out.

Xavier came in, and I held the punch mitts for him.  No sign of anyone else in the teen class, unfortunately.  No adults showed up for the last class, so I updated the bulletin board that has the workout order on it.  I timed the parts of the workout so it covers an hour, even though currently, the class is still 75 minutes.  When the kids start goofing around after telling me, "I've already done everything on the board," I'll just tell them to do floor exercises until class is over.  The idea is, they need to keep training for the entire time.

What Will Smith Said. . . .Again

Robert Conrad, an actor who is best known for his role on the TV series "The Wild, Wild West" (CBS; 1965-1969), was a boxer for a time.  I discovered that he has a radio show.  You may find it at  Check it out.

I was reminded of one of Will Smith's biggest rap songs, "Parents Just Don't Understand", a couple of times in the gym yesterday.  Jermaine sparred with Justen, TJ and Suave.  Jermaine's mama raised an objection to her son sparring with Justen because they had sparred a couple of weeks ago.  Justen had got the best of Jermaine that time.  Jermaine did not bother showing up to the gym last week when it was Spring Break, first of all.  Second of all, there were not a lot of kids he could choose from to spar.  Third of all, I'm the coach, and what I say goes.

Justen did not finish his session, whining about how he got hit in the head.  I was NOT in the mood yesterday.  "That's normal in boxing.  What do you think this is?" I snapped.  It was later brought to my attention that other than one session he had with Jermaine some time ago, Justen has never finished three rounds with anybody.  Justen always cuts it short with an excuse.  The next time he does it, he won't be sparring again for a long, long time.

Jermaine delivered low blows to both TJ and Suave, regardless of the fact that I warned him to keep his punches above the belt.  Both of those sparring sessions had to be cut short because of that.  Jermaine started bragging about "winning" again, and I went off on him in front of his mama.  It has just about become impossible for me to hide my frustrations with Jermaine.

Suave didn't want to leave the ring, refusing to accept that I had to stop the sparring in order to keep him from becoming seriously hurt.  I admire that the boy has heart, but Suave's pride often won't allow him to listen to reason.  Eventually, he accepted that sparring was over for that day.  I made a point of then working with him to teach him how to get out of the corners and off the ropes when someone pins him in.

X, whom I hadn't seen for nearly two years, showed up with his son.  His son and his older daughter were a couple of the first kids who signed up for boxing when I was hired to coach.  Both kids dropped out early on.  X wanted to sign his son up again, but the class is full and five weeks have already gone by.  However, X wanted me to bend the rules, not only for his son, but for X to volunteer in the gym without going through the proper channels to be a volunteer.  In addition, X also planned to tell his adult male friends that they can show up to the gym to volunteer and perhaps get a free workout in, presumably without following registration procedures.

This is where I get pissed off.  I do NOT appreciate anyone insisting that I go against what I'm allowed to do within the parameters of my job.  Outside of being disrespected, X's attitude said in so many words that he did not care that I would reap negative consequences for allowing him to do whatever he wants.  I already informed my boss of X's actions.  Now I'm just preparing myself for the inevitable showdown to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grumblings and Groceries

Jesus and Rojan face each other in the photo above.  Ben commented that he would like to move as well as Rojan does.  So would I.  Rojan is very much in command of his actions while in the ring.  Alan is very interested in getting Rojan a show fight.

Which reminds me -- I'm not exactly in the loop regarding show fights.  I have been promising the youths at my gym for awhile that they can have chances at participating in those events.  I have to contact Sam and Tina regarding show fights taking place around town.

Ben and John sparred.  I didn't see much of the action because I was busy on the heavy bags and speed bag.  But I could hear Ben going on about how hard it was to get shots in on John.  "You're asking me to walk straight into a guy whose arm reach is longer than mine!" I heard him say to Alan.  Alan was trying to explain that arm length didn't matter; Ben would have to move his head and work his way in.

The difference of opinions continued after their sparring session was over.  Alan had Ben watch Jesus and Rojan.  He pointed out that Rojan was taller and bigger and had to figure out how to handle Jesus.  Ben -- who ended up with a shiner courtesy of John -- was still making an argument as to why he couldn't get the shots in against John.

I overheard Alan telling a couple of people that he wanted them to get the cardio in for the three minutes the round lasted.  The next time I catch one of the kids at my gym goofing all during a round, I'm going to point out that they need to exercise for the entire two minute rounds they have.

When I told Alan about Nay, who wanted to go straight to sparring before learning how to punch and move, he suggested that I let people do that.  "Sometimes, you have to let people get that out of their system.  Those who think it's like a street fight will find out quickly that boxing is not that," he told me.  I'm going to remember that.

Alan had to stop at the "Jewish Jewel" to pick up some items for Passover, which began this past weekend.  He said he would drop me off at home afterward.  I agreed to go with him because I neglected to do some grocery shopping earlier in the day.  I had been inside that Jewel Food Store before, which is located in Evanston, IL.  The reason it is known as the "Jewish Jewel" is because they sell a lot of kosher food items.  It seemed that most other shoppers there had the same idea.  Alan had already paid for his groceries and was sitting up front waiting for me.  I was in a long line behind several Jewish wives who were stocking up for the holiday.  But it was interesting, as I learned a little more from Alan as to how Passover is celebrated.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Showing Heart

Brenan kept running and turning his back during a sparring session with Suave.  I put them in the ring first because I felt they were evenly matched enough.  Brenan is always willing to get into the ring, but once inside, it's a battle to keep him engaged in the fight.  No matter what his dad or I said, that session didn't end well.

As usual, Earl and TJ had excuses and no mouthpieces to spar.  Earl tried to buy one from me, but there are none in the equipment room.  "I told y'all that I may run out of mouthpieces.  You'll have to go to the sports store and buy one," I announced to everybody.

I had to put Justen in with Suave.  Before the bell rang, I warned Justen to take it easy.  Justen popped Suave hard a couple of times.  The next round, I got inside the ring to act as referee.  Justen kept coming after Suave, and I got in-between them.  "This is not a street fight!" I snapped at Justen.  There was a promise to slow it down, but it wasn't long before Justen forgot what I said.  He caught Suave in the face with a right.  Suave fell to the canvas and stayed there.

Suave was sniffling and crying.  I checked to make sure the boy's nose wasn't broken or bleeding.  It was the middle of the round.  "Do you want to go on?" I asked.  Suave didn't answer me immediately.  I offered to remove his headgear.  "No," Suave said quietly.  "I don't want to quit."  He got up again, and Justen came rushing at him.  Again I had to check Justen about his punches.  Suave got caught with a jab and crashed to the canvas another time.

I was going to stop it.  Suave refused to let me take off his headgear.  "No.  I'm going to keep going," he said.  I smiled to myself.  I don't think I'm going to have to worry about Suave not having heart during the boxing shows.  He and Justen finished out the round.

Justen didn't get it, however.  He was bragging to the other boys about "winning".  "There's no winners in sparring matches.  It's practice, and everybody is supposed to be working with each other," I told him.  "Well, it's a win to me," he said.  Uh-huh.  Justen has got heavy hands, but he has to learn how to use them right.

There was a bit of peace in the gym this past week, and I was confused why it was a little quieter than usual.  Then I noticed that Jermaine hadn't been in for days.  I'm curious to hear what excuse Jermaine will give for missing a whole week of training, that is, if he returns.

I held pads for Terence, and that was the first time I had done that.  I showed him how to parry punches away that come for his mid-section.  As we danced around the ring, Terence joked, "I'm getting beat by an old lady!"

For the past few days, I kept the radio tuned to stations that were doing tributes to Prince.  Prince's death really came out of the blue.  Secretly, I hoped none of the youths would complain about "old school" music and ask to change the channel.  They didn't.  But Terence said, "I was more into Michael Jackson than Prince.  Prince seemed to be way back there."  I smiled because MJ was way before Terence's time, too.  I told him about the poster of Prince that hung in my locker when I was a junior in high school  My locker partner, Angela, had hung it up around the time Prince's first album was released.  "Now I know Prince was way back in the day!" Terence said, shaking his head.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Break and Annoying Cell Phones

It's Spring Break for the public school kids.  Maybe that's why so few of them showed up at the gym.  Suave was disappointed because he had a new mouthpiece, and he was looking forward to sparring.  Earl and TJ had their mouthpieces, but both had eaten way too much just before class began.  Luckily, Suave's mom gave him a pep talk, telling him not to be discouraged.

It always bothers me when due to lack of adequate opponents on sparring days, the kids who are willing and ready to spar can't.  Xavier could have sparred as well, but Ben, Terence, Ezequiel, and Cordell were no shows.  Jaland joined the teen class, but it's too early for him to spar.

Jahnaja came in, bringing along a gal pal of hers.  It was taking too long for her to put on hand wraps, mainly because she was having a conversation with her friend.  She was also checking her cell phone.  Earlier, I had to say something to TJ about playing on his in the middle of a round.  I'm wondering if I should ban cell phone use in the gym.  I'm tired of youths stopping in the middle of rounds to fiddle around on their phones.  Unless important calls are coming in, there's nothing happening on the Internet that can't wait until after gym is over.

I told everyone that the gym was operating on regular hours this week.  I'm well aware that not everyone paid attention to what I said.  That will be apparent next week when those who don't show up this week will express surprise that the gym was open during Spring Break.  Of course, I will have something sarcastic to say in response.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Lucky Punch

Brenan and Jermaine sparred yesterday, and poor Brenan got the the worst of it.  Brenan is shorter and smaller than Jermaine.  But that doesn't mean that Jermaine did very well.  I fear that Jermaine's hard-headed ways regarding training properly is going to cost him in a fight down the line.  He just happened to get in a lucky punch on Brenan, knocking the smaller boy to the ground.

A trickle of blood came out of Brenan's nose, and his dad -- who is very helpful in the gym, by the way -- got paper towels to clean him up.  The next time Jermaine punched Brenan was it.  Brenan was on one knee, leaning on the ropes and crying.

I didn't like Jermaine's boasting after wards, so I let him know I thought he could and should have done better.  "But did I do good?" he asked.  "Not in comparison to the other kids who box in the park district," I answered.  We worked on the punch mitts later, but Jermaine still wasn't taking any of it seriously.  I guess the only way the kid is going to learn is when he gets a park district fight later this summer.  But then it will too late for Jermaine to realize that he should have listened to me and put in more work in the gym.

I have a new adult student.  I'm not going to spell her name right at this point, so for now, I'm just going to shorten her name -- Nay.  She wanted to go straight to sparring.  That was a no can do situation since she still has to learn the punches and footwork.  Plus, there was no one for her to spar with as the other adults didn't come in.  I wasn't going to spar with her.  The cold I had last week has eased into my lungs, still trying to hang on.  Also, I was tired from having gone around with the youths.  I found out that her son is Kaevon, who used to be in the boxing class several sessions back.

Finally, I mopped down the exercise mat that is on the floor in the gym.  It hadn't been cleaned for a long, long time.  The attendants clean the gym floor and the nearby washrooms.  They don't touch the ring nor the mat, so I take it upon myself to do that.  I joked to myself that the mat and the ring were getting cleaned more than my apartment has been.  Actually, I shouldn't have found that funny.  But then, I never aspired to be a housewife.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Boxing Frustrations Galore

As I watched the 12 years and under class as they leaned on the ring ropes, I wondered to myself, "What am I going to do with this group?"  It's just about middle of April, and the park district boxing shows are closer than the kids think.  Yet I seem to be facing one obstacle after another in getting kids ready for competition.

The other day, I found a mouthpiece on the floor in the men's washroom.  I had given out a couple of mouthpieces to kids who didn't have them.  I threw that mouthpiece out, thinking it couldn't be saved nor cleaned properly because it had been on the washroom floor.  The following day, Suave told me his mouthpiece probably slipped out of his backpack, because he couldn't find it.  The one I threw away was probably his.  But I have no more mouthpieces to give out at the moment.  I'm waiting for the ones the park district ordered to come in.  In the meantime, Suave won't be allowed to spar until he has a mouthpiece.

Jermaine's whining and slacking off have become highly annoying.  His mother usually comes to the gym with him, and Jermaine doesn't listen to her anymore than he does to me.  Finally, I told Jermaine that he needs to stop giving his mother word-for-word every time she tells him something.  "I would have been laid out on the floor if I was always talking to my mother like that," I said.  Yet Jermaine's mouth kept running.

Both Jermaine and Davon shrink when they are sparring.  As soon as the pressure is put on them, they sink into the ropes, turn their backs on the other person, and drop their hands.  "The other person is not going to stop throwing punches because y'all did," I keep telling them.  The fact the kids keep doing that tells me I'm not being heard.

Ben, who's in the teen class, has been doing the same thing lately.  This has been especially true when he has to face Xavier.  I get the feeling that Ben always wants to "win" his sparring matches.  No matter how many times I explain to all that sparring is practice, it just falls on deaf ears.

Justen got in the ring to spar with TJ and then stopped in the middle of sparring.  "I forgot I shouldn't be sparring today because I have a knot on my head," he said.  I was irritated, but I was too frustrated to argue.  "Just come out of the ring," I grumbled.

Shynla, who hasn't been in the gym in over a week, decided to show up on a sparring day.  I couldn't work with her because I had to deal with the issues the other kids had with sparring.  I didn't ask either her, or her dad who was with her why she had been absent for several days.  I hoping that both understand that she's not going to learn the sport well if she's only showing up to class here and there.

Of course, she's not the only one.  In addition to the ones whom I've never seen in the class, there are several others in all three of the classes who keep doing the "now you see me, now you don't" routine.  None of the teens showed up yesterday, and Bennie, who is in the adult class, showed up after being AWOL for several days.

A woman who has been telling me for about a year that she was going to sign up for the adult class, finally did so.  "Can I bring my kids in here?" she asked.  I believe she has four of them.  Suspecting that she might want to have the kids work out with her, I explained that the kids can't be in the gym when the adults are there.  Then she tells me she can't show up every day.  I don't know, y'all, but if I'm paying for a class, I'm going to be there every time the doors are open.  I like to get my money's worth when I'm paying for anything.  But maybe others just don't feel like I do.

Then I was late the other day to the field house.  It's a long ride from Rogers Park all the way to Austin, and if CTA does anything wrong, I'm jacked up.  As soon as I got there, the field house supervisor told me the parents were grumbling.  Steve explained to them that I was on public transportation.  From what he told me, that didn't go over well.  If those parents are driving everywhere, of course, they didn't want to hear that.  Most who drive have zero sympathy for those who have to deal with public transportation problems.  My reaction is usually to ignore drivers' lack of understanding about that, because, honestly. . . .unless they are going to buy me a car and pay all the expenses involved with that, I really don't want to hear their opinions.

I want things to work.  But when everybody else ain't on board. . . sigh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Channeling Dad At The Gym

The photo above is of David after a bloody sparring session.

The gym was full, but not as packed as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't go last week because I had a bad cold, but I was ready for some action this week.  I sparred with Alesia, one of the new people at the gym.  It was her first time sparring.  I kept my jab out there, and for good reason.  She was taller and thicker built than I, and her punches were hard.

Ro mixed it up with Jesus.  Jesus had his hands down a lot.  I realized that he was attempting to draw Ro in so he could drop a right hand on him.

Ben and John seemed to have a slug fest.  Ben was rushing in a lot, while John used footwork to keep away from the more wilder punches.

EJ watches the sparring in this photo.

Kathy sparred with Nicole (I think I have the name right), and Nicole was rushing in with her punches.  Kathy's long arms and legs warded off a lot of damage.

I decided to channel my late dad, so I came to the gym wearing one of his Stetson hats, a jacket of his, and I was holding one of his cigars.  Alan took this photo.  "Are you going to light up the cigar?" Alan asked.  "Oh, no!  This cigar is probably more than 12 years old," I answered.  I just have it for the look, not to smoke it.  I always wonder about some boxers who do smoke.  Boxing is a tough enough sport without trying to do with smoke in the lungs.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

First Blood

The photo above shows Xavier getting the drop on BJ the other day. In the background, Davon and his older brother Cordell watch the action.

BJ kept moving around while sparring with Xavier, but he would not throw any punches back.  BJ kept his guard up, but Xavier would just step around and deliver punches to BJ's body.  I kept telling BJ to at least keep his jab going.  Instead, BJ kept allowing himself to get pinned against the ropes, and then turning his head and back away from Xavier.

The next round didn't last long.  Xavier reached out with a right, and BJ had his hands down.  BJ turned to look at me.  Just as I said to BJ, "You're not bleeding," a trickle of red came from his left nostril.  BJ leaned on the ropes, putting his head down.  I called to Cordell:  "Go to the men's washroom and grab some paper towels!"  Cordell took so long that his brother Davon went to see what was going on.  In the meantime, blood was dripping onto the canvas.  Finally, I ran to the women's washroom to get towels.

I cleaned up BJ, and that was the end of that sparring session.  The gym was busy because a lot of people came to the class that day.  It was awhile later before I was able to inspect the canvas again.  There was a bright red stain, the first blood that has ever been on that canvas.  I tried to get it up with a little soap and water, but it was too late.  The blood had set.  "That won't be the last blood stain on the canvas," I thought to myself.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Bout With A Cold

Yesterday, I suffered through work.  I got sick the day before, and I had planned to stay at home.  But I had promised the kids -- namely, Cordell and his brother Devon -- that they would be able to spar the following week.  Cordell and his brother had to go home early, and they missed out on participating in the open sparring session.  I don't like making promises to kids then backing out of them.

I trudged into work despite feeling like I had been body slammed.  Earl started in with his usual, "I don't have my mouthpiece. . . .oh, it's in my coat pocket," routine.  After admonishing Earl for that, I had to ask him several times did he want to spar.  Justen, TJ and Jermaine were already suited up.  Earl kept mumbling and not really giving and answer.  It annoys the hell out of me when kids do that.  Mighty funny they can scream and yell about everything else, but can't seem to answer a direct question.  "Fine," I grumbled, giving up when I still didn't get a concrete decision.

Jermaine took a beating from Justen because Jermaine kept ignoring instructions from his mother and I to stop turning his back and giving up whenever he was backed into the ropes.

TJ hit Justen in the same spot -- in the ribs -- that Eddie did during the open sparring session.  Justen laid on the canvas for awhile, then decided he couldn't go on.

Neither Devon nor Cordell showed up.  I had dragged myself down to the job mainly for them only to have the brothers disappoint me.  Ben was the only one who showed up for the teen class.  Turns out his family will not be moving out to the 'burbs after all.  Once again, none of the adults showed up.

I talked to the boss about Brenan, who was registered for the class by another staff person, even though the kids' class is full.  The boss said one or two registered beyond the max is not a big deal.  Perhaps not.  But I'm worried about a staff member adding more, and that will be a problem to me.

I signed up a new kid named Ezequel for the teen class.  Too bad I didn't go to work today due to ongoing illness.  I met his mother and sister, but Ezequel wasn't present when his mom signed him up.  Hopefully, I'll get to meet him tomorrow, and set him up to get some work in with Ben and Xavier.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Open Sparring Session

Justen and Suave have a conversation on the other side of the equipment table in the photo above.

I invited several coaches to bring their fighters over for an open sparring session at LaFollette.  Only Marlen, the coach at Portage Park, was able to make it.  He brought three kids over.

Unfortunately, Cordell and his brother Davon forgot to tell family members they were sticking around for the session.  Their grandmother wanted them to come by her, so they had to leave.  Brenan couldn't stay either, and TJ and Earl didn't show up.  That left Suave, Justen, Julian, and Xavier.  There was no one among the kids Marlen had whom Xavier could spar with, so he just did his normal workout.

Justen surprised me while he was in the ring with Eddie (on the right in the picture above, working the pads with Marlen).  Now there were some things we have to work on.  Justen kept dropping his hands, and he turned his back on Eddie a few times.  But Justen had no fear, and basically kept his composure the entire time.  A hit to the ribs caused Justen not to continue after the second round, but he did fine.

Julian allowed the other boy from Marlen's gym to get the drop on him.  Julian's hands and head were down a majority of the time.  Every time the other boy would back Julian against the ropes, Julian would just lay there and take the punches.  Their three rounds ended with Julian in tears.

Suave sparred with Eddie, and he did okay.  But I have to break Suave out of the habit of hopping towards an opponent.  No sense in hopping into an incoming punch.  Suave always practices his footwork when he's in the gym, but we're going to need some more work on that.

In this photo (from left to right), Suave, Justen, and Julian are suited up for sparring.

I learned some other things about having an open sparring match:

1)  No matter how early in advance I let people know about it, there's always going to be coaches and fighters who are not going to be able to attend.  I have to just be thankful for the ones that do show up.

2)  I have to allow time for the visiting fighters to warm up.  That didn't even occur to me until Marlen mentioned his kids would have to have at least a half-hour to get ready for sparring.

3)  It would be a good idea for me to provide something other than water for the visiting coaches and fighters, as well as their relatives and friends who may attend.  It doesn't have to be a full meal, but some light snacks would be nice.

4) I should treat the open sparring session somewhat like it's a regular boxing match, even though it isn't.  For some of the participants, this may be their first time sparring anybody.  That was the case with the three kids at my gym.  I have to be prepared to sooth nerves before the sparring begins.

I don't know when I'll schedule another open sparring session.  But the door at my gym is open to any of the coaches who want to bring their kids over to get extra practice in.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Registration Issues

A man walks into the class with his son and daughter.  He tells me that his son is signed up for the 12 years old and under boxing class.  I saw that his son, Brenan, was not listed on the attendance sheet.  "Oh, I just signed him up yesterday," the dad explained.

Cordell was the only one who came in for the teen class, so I had time to scoot upstairs and check the computer.  Sure enough, Brenan was signed up.  One of my co-workers -- I wish I knew who -- signed the kid up, ignoring the fact that the class is full, and kids are supposed to be at least eight years old to be in the class.  Brenan should have been placed on the waiting list instead.

That kind of stuff puts me in a bad position.  First of all, if management looks hard at the attendance records, they will assume that I authorized letting extra people into a class that was already full.  That is against the rules, as is signing up someone who is too young for a class.  I can't go and tell the parent that their child is not allowed in the class without creating hard feelings.  Looks like I'm going to have to explain to staff members why it's important that I'm able to give everyone in the class individual attention -- something I can't do if the class becomes overcrowded.

Fortunately, I saw Deja in the hallway.  I told her I mistakenly thought she and her brother Terry were not signed up for the class.  I told her that she and her brother should come back to the class beginning next week.

Elizabeth seemed very disappointed that she could not be in the boxing class. Turns out that her mother didn't want her in the sport.  Elizabeth showed up in the middle of the kids' class the day before, following me around like a puppy.  She was oblivious to the fact that there were several kids in the class going off in all directions, and I was trying to keep on top of things.  I allowed her to stay in the class if she would sit down.  Not a good decision on my part.  She began fooling around with the equipment, and I reminded her that she couldn't touch anything.  Then she comes up to me while I was helping another kid and asked, "Can I use the weights?"  I gave a second, stronger reminder that she was not in the class and therefore, the equipment was off limits.  It took way too long for Elizabeth to take the hint, but finally, she left the gym.

Another little girl whose name I can't remember wanted to be in the class, too.  She told me, "My mother doesn't want my face to get banged up."  But I assured her that I don't force anyone to spar nor compete.  "Tell your mom that you can just learn the punches and not have to hit anyone in class," I told her.  She'll have to go on the waiting list, but even if she doesn't get in this session, she would be able to have dibs on the summer session.