Saturday, May 28, 2016

Might As Well Closed Up

I was at the field house, but I never went down to the boxing gym.  As I predicted, no one showed up for class.  On a Memorial Day weekend?  Please. The gym might as well have been closed today.

I opted to stay up at the front desk.  Good thing I did, because several people came in to sign up for the youth summer swimming classes.  Leonard, an attendant, was the only other person at the desk.  Leonard doesn't know how to sign patrons up for classes, and besides, he was busy cleaning the place.

Some teenage girl sashayed into the field house with the sole purpose of peeping out whom was there.  She asked Leonard and I where the pool was.  As she walked towards it, both of us noticed she had no swim wear with her.  She was also eating a bag of chips.  Moments later, having not found anyone she could hang out with, she came back.  "Can I work out in the fitness center?" she asked. "Patrons have to be 16 years and up, and there's a cost to use it," I informed her.  She didn't look any older than 14 years of age.  She stood at the door and peered inside, looking as if she was searching for someone.  Seeing how she wasn't going to get anywhere, she finally switched out of the field house.

This is my opinion:  moms of today don't seem to tell their daughters anything.  I know if I had a daughter that age, she'd have something to do on a Saturday other than roam the streets.  There's always house chores, homework, errands, positive activities, etc.  Too many girls find themselves in trouble with the law, in trouble with characters out on these streets, dealing with unwed pregnancies, etc., and mama and daddy are clueless as to how things got to that point.

Attendance this past week was light in all of the boxing classes.  The spring session ends next weekend.  I feel uneasy about next month's boxing show is going to turn out, and that bothers me.  It seems that I can't depend on most of the current kids to participate, and I don't want to rush the new crop of kids who'll join the summer session into competing.  The equipment I ordered a few months ago still hasn't turned up.  And I have to contend with the summer camp kids which so far, has been a low point.  Summer is always interesting.  At least I can drive back and forth to work instead of putting up with drama on public transportation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shoulders and Pops

The photo above is of the program for my high school's 40th anniversary.  The celebration was held this past weekend.  For the first time, I drove to the high school.  The entire time I was there, I never knew how to drive.  I took the driver's ed class, but Ma refused to pay for the permit so I could take the range lessons.  She didn't think knowing how to drive was necessary, as she never learned how to drive.  Dad never bothered to teach me how to drive, but he picked on me for not knowing how.  So actually driving up to the school on my own was a big deal for me.

I didn't drive to Loyola Park the other day because it is within walking distance from my house.  Parking is extremely tight in the neighborhood, and driving a short distance just ain't worth me losing a spot when I find one.

Jason, whom I hadn't seen in awhile, was at the gym.  He asked me if any jobs were available at LaFollette Park.  The field house seriously needs another attendant, but I don't know if there is a budget for that position.  I told Jason to check out the park district's web site.

Igor has been MIA for some time.  Alan told me Igor's 90-something-year-old dad passed on recently.  My tolerance for Igor disappeared years ago, but I do feel sorry for his loss.  "I hope he's okay," Alan told me.

Alan gave John and I a bit of a scare on Monday.  John hit Alan in the shoulder during their sparring session.  Alan's right shoulder went pop, and he had to stop.  I was standing on the apron, ready with water and a towel, like I always do when Alan spars with someone.  Alan paced around the ring after being hit.  "It's not dislocated, but it hurts," he told us.

I did not spar because my left shoulder still hurts.  The TENS device that Alicia gave me about three years ago has helped with the pain management somewhat.  But holding punch mitts for people at LaFollette has not helped in the healing process.  I was holding the mitts for Xavier, and I have to steel myself because he hits very hard.  I also held the mitts for Suave, Earl, and TJ.  Jermaine was goofing around as usual, having taken his hand wraps off.  I had to ask that boy several times did he want to do the mitts before I got an answer.  Finally, Jermaine said no.

Jermaine's mother told me her son is going to attend a summer class centered around art and music.  It's just as well, because Jermaine has no focus when it comes to boxing.  Suave plans to do other activities, too, but he will sign up for boxing again so he can have a chance to compete in next month's boxing show.  Earl and TJ aren't sure what they are going to do.  The class is already half full for the summer, so people who want to sign up better figure it out.  I keep announcing that once the summer youth classes are full, I'm not taking in extra people. Twelve in each class is all I can handle, and that's all I want to deal with, period.

Nay showed up to the adult class after having missed several days.  But I appreciate Nay because when she is there, she is focused.  She was the only person who came to the class, and I liked working one on one with her.  I have to remember to remind her to sign up again for summer.  Nick is the only adult who has signed up for the summer so far.  I need more to participate so that the adults have others to work with, and so that I'm not spending the last hour and a half of my workday staring at an mostly empty gym.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Being a Boxing Chauffeur

Kathy sparred with David last night at Loyola Park.  I told her she looked really tough in the ring, and she said, "I'm trying to do that!"  I scaled down my workout a little, and I was too tired to spar with her.

Hanging around the DMV and City Clerk's office for a majority of the day will do that to a person.  But praise God!  I now am the owner of a car.  I won't drive it Loyola Park because I live within walking distance.  But I will drive it to LaFollette, and I am most glad that my commute time to there will now be cut down considerably.

Another use for the car will be to transport people to the upcoming park district boxing shows.  However, based on the attendance habits of the youth, I'm anticipating some problems.  It's one thing for the youths to consistently show up to the gym late.  It's another thing to be tardy to a boxing show or tournament when the event has to start and end on time.  When I ask someone to meet me at 5:30 because we absolutely have to be somewhere, that does not mean they should show up at 6:00.  I will have left before then.  A lot of the youths may find out the hard way that I don't dig tardiness, especially when my time and now my gas money is involved.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wasting Time and Effort

As I understand it, the park district's boxing program is set up mostly for youths who want to compete.  But when there are kids in the class who can't or don't want to compete, it complicates what I do in terms of coaching.  I understand when the adults in the class say, "I don't want to hit anyone, and I don't want anyone hitting me."  It's easy to present an aerobic boxing program in that instance.  But most kids who sign up for the program expect to fight in the ring.

I've had a couple of kids flake out on me on the day of a boxing show before.  Last year, one kid decided right before the weigh-in that they didn't want to fight.  Another kid went out of town before the show, and didn't bother to tell me.  I barely speak to that kid when I see them (I had taken pains to pre-match them), and thankfully, they are no longer in the boxing class.  Now I've got a kid whose parent and grandparent don't want them to spar nor compete.  However, the kid, not being aware of their relatives' feelings, wants to do both.

Boxing involves giving and taking hits.  I can't change the nature of the sport.  So what does that kid's relatives expect me to do?  Why is the kid still in the program?  "I want them to get exercise and discipline," the parent told me.  But if focus and self-motivation is practically non-existent in a kid to begin with, as it in this situation, keeping them in the class is not going to help.

Other coaches have told me war stories of what drama they had to put up with when parents and guardians didn't want to hear that perhaps their little darlings should be enrolled in different sport.  Yet they need to hear that and respect the coach's observations.  I don't want to waste my time and effort.  I have other kids in the class who actually want to put in the work to do well in competitions. More importantly, the kid's time should not be wasted trying to plug them into an activity that doesn't suit them.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I Have My Suspicions

Brenan was the only one who showed up for the youth class.  I ended up sparring with him because he asked me.  But I mostly did defense while allowing him to do offense.  Brenan was not turning his back as often, and he was getting out of the corners when I forced him into them.  Now if only he would do that when sparring with the boys.

Brenan and his dad had barely left for the day when Justin, Janaye's brother, strolled in.  It was two minutes before the youth class was going to end.  Justin actually thought he was going to get a workout in.  "What are you going to do in two minutes?" I asked him.  "Can I come in now?" he said.  "Your class started awhile ago.  It's over for today," I informed him.  The boy had a cell phone in his hand, and I wondered why he didn't notice the time on it.

About five to ten minutes later, Justin returned to ask if his sister had come to the gym. "I'm not her keeper," was what I wanted to say. "She hasn't been here in weeks," is what I actually told her brother.  After he left again, a red flag came up.  Surely, if he was there, his sister had to be in the field house, too.  That scenario had happened before a few weeks prior, when Janaye came in briefly.  She told Justin to make sure to call her on her cell phone at a certain time.  Then she went away, and did not come back down to the gym that day.

Just before leaving for the day, one of the attendants told me they spied a teenage couple looking very cozy on the back stairwell leading up to the basketball gyms. I was asked had I seen the teens. "I'm in the basement," I told the attendant, "and I can't hear if anyone is up on the second landing."  "Those two were whispering to each other," the attendant said with a tone that suggested the teens were having an inappropriate conversation.

I walked to the nearest bus stop after leaving the field house for the day, and there was Janaye, Justin, and some boy whom I had never seen before. She said hi to me, but gave no explanation as to why she hasn't been in boxing class for weeks.  Janaye seemed very comfortable with the boy, however.  Now I'm wondering if Janaye and that boy were the couple that the attendant saw on the back stairs.

A relative of mine, one of my older nieces, once used me a shield to cover up the fact that she had a secret boyfriend.  My grandmother and oldest half-sister had practically imprisoned her in the house one summer, not letting her go anywhere. The smarter thing to have done was to talk to my niece, who was 14 at the time, and lay down rules and expectations.  As hot as that summer was, it would have also been a good idea to let her go outside with her friends from time to time. But nooooo, as the late John Belushi used to say.  That would have been too much like having common sense on my grandmother and half-sister's part.  So one day, she told them she needed to go to the library.  She couldn't go unless someone went with her.  I happened to be at my grandmother's house that day, so I was pressed into service into being my niece's chaperon.  The next thing I knew, I was being dragged around the neighborhood by my niece so she could steal some giggling and goo-goo eye time with some pock-faced boy she liked.  That was the first and last time I allowed her to do that to me.

If I'm being used as a alibi in this current situation, I'm shutting it down with a quickness.  I've already had to deal with a situation where another teen girl who was in the gym in the past was assaulted.  She was telling her mother she was going to boxing class.  I found out she was lying to her mama when her mama showed up one day to ask how her daughter was doing in class.  The girl hadn't been there for two weeks.  Not long after that, the girl was assaulted while hanging somewhere else when she was supposed to be in the gym.  She only got slapped.  But it could have been a lot worse.

Looks like I'm going to have to talk to Janaye's parents.  She hasn't been in regular attendance for the past couple of sessions she's been signed up for.  Her parents, particularly her dad, will probably want to sign her up for the summer session.  Better for me to voice my suspicions now, than to be silent and wished I had said something sooner.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Not Now, Please

Lately, I have been expecting sparring days at LaFollette Park to be off, and they usually are.  Right in the middle of everything that was going on, a guy named Jeffrey comes in and wants to have a conversation.  He told me he had been a coach, and had boxed in the military.

Fine.  Great.  But I was in the middle of trying to corral the kids -- TJ, Earl, Justen, Suave, and Jermaine -- into sparring.  Most were running their mouths, mainly about subjects that had nothing to do with boxing.  A couple of them kept interrupting while I was talking to Jeffrey.  "Don't you see that I'm talking to an adult?" I snapped at Jermaine, channeling my mother.  Another time I told TJ, "Don't get involved in grown folks' business!"

I don't mind talking to people who drop by the gym.  But bad timing is bad timing.  Jeffrey took awhile to get the hint that I was too busy to talk.

Justen told me he had to leave early.  It had something to do with him going out of town on a vacation soon.  I wanted to know why Justen only shows up to the gym on the days when sparring is going on.  "I wasn't in last week because I had to pack," came the answer.  "I'm not talking about last week.  This is a habit," I answered.  Justen once again tried to use the excuse about preparing to go out of town.  I dismissed the excuses.  "Justen, you're not going to learn how to box just by sparring only.  You need to show up here more often.  I've providing the opportunity, but you have to take advantage of it and want to do it," I sternly told him.

TJ and Suave sparred first.  Justen started yelling instructions, instead of doing a workout.  Justen was the only one who didn't have a mouthpiece.  I shut that down with, "I'm the only coach in here."  The session was going okay until TJ caught Suave with a right hook to the body.  Suave fell to the canvas.  After a few moments, Suave became scrappy again and finished the round.

Earl and Jermaine sparred next.  Both had their chins way up in the air, and head movement was not happening.  Body shots were not on display, either.  Jermaine was throwing wild punches as usual.  Because of that, Jermaine took a hit to the mouth that left the kid with blood in his mouth.  Some of it was spit out, along with water he had taken, onto the canvas near where I was standing on the apron.  His mother asked why would he do that at my feet.  "Yeah, I have to get the mop to clean that up," I said.  Jermaine's mother made him clean it up.

Justen had the nerve to go sit down on the exercise mat and read a book.  Apparently, a decision had been made not to do anything that looked like a workout.  "Uh, excuse me, but this is not school.  Want to read a book?  Leave the gym to do it," I warned Justen.  It got him up and about, but still, a poor workout was done.  I gave Justen a hint not to ask me about putting him into any boxing shows until see some self-motivation and focus.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sparring With A Man

In the photo above, Ben (on the right) spars with Jesus.

Connor was fussing with Alan concerning his sparring session with John.  I didn't see much of it because I was concentrating on the speed bag.  But I could hear Alan barking, "Punch!  Don't tell me what you can't do!"  Hearing Alan talking like that made me feel less guilty about snapping on the kids down at my gym.  Connor said that John was too tall for him to be able to get some punches out.  "John is six foot three, and you're six feet!  That's not much of a difference," Alan said.

No other women other than Natasha (I'm not sure that's her correct name) were on the premises.  She didn't want to spar.  "I'll have to put you in with one of the guys," Alan told me.  I ended up sparring for a couple of rounds with Ben.  I hadn't sparred with a guy for a long time, that is, if you don't count the few times I have sparred with some of the grade school boys down at my own gym.

Ben was not hitting hard; he worked mostly on defense.  I was getting in hits, mostly to his middle and sides.  To my surprise, I was able to get a lot of left hooks to the body in.  My practicing those types of shots for the past week or so seemed to have paid off.

There was a 20 pound kettlebell in the room.  I assumed it belonged to Alan, so I exercised with it.  "Swing it up over your head," Alan said, but I couldn't quite raise it that high.  I need to build up my arm strength more.  Also, my left shoulder is still bothering me, and I didn't want to push it.  Sigh. . .it does take longer to heal up when one gets older.  However, I didn't notice any pain with that shoulder while sparring with Ben.

I had some potato and mixed veggie chowder for dinner.  For the past few weeks, there have been days when I've eaten no meat at all.  No, this does not mean that I'm going vegetarian.  I love my steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and bacon too much to do that.  But I have felt lighter and better on the days when I haven't been eating meat at every meal.  Maybe I should continue the trend.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Saturday's Slugging

Only Suave and Brenan showed up.  Brenan was hesitant about sparring, but he suited up anyway.  Both boys did better than usual.  Suave kept his head up, and kept his hands up most of the time.  Brenan was still running from Suave, turning his back, and not keeping his left jab out there.  But Suave did catch a couple of shots to his middle and his chest from Brenan.

I was glad that Brenan did not have another bloody nose.  His mom asked what footwork her son should work on to prevent running from an opponent.  I suggested that Brenan learn to cut off the ring so his opponent can't move.  There were several times when he could have easily backed Suave into the ropes or in the corners.  I work on footwork with Brenan sometimes when he's in there, but the boy only comes in twice a week.  However, his mom, and his dad (who teaches martial arts) work with him at home.

Before those two left, I told them it was Free Comic Book Day.  It appeared that neither boy had heard of that event before.  They pleaded with their moms to stop by the nearest comic book shop on the way home.  I stopped at a place myself after closing up the gym for the day.

Terence was the only attendee in the teen class, and it took him awhile to get revved up to do the workout.  I used his cell phone to catch a little of him punching on the heavy bag.  Terence wanted to get an idea of what he needs to work on.  I've noticed that he is very good at slipping punches.  The last time he was in the ring with Xavier, Terence deftly avoided his cousin's punches.

After Terence left, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do, since none of the adult students came in -- again.  The ring nor the exercise mat were not overly dirty, so I didn't run a mop over them.  I decided to wait another week before washing the hand wraps -- not many showed to the gym this past week who used them.  Next week, I'll continue drilling the youths on footwork and defensive moves.  The days are getting closer and closer to the boxing show.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Godfather's Day

Since today was James Brown's birthday, I brought in some CDs of his.  I hoped that none of the kids would turn their noses up and go, "Oh, no!  Old school music!"  They didn't.

The kids are often more observant than I.  TJ noted that Justen only shows up on the days when sparring takes place.  I thought that Justen was doing that; now I know it's true.  The "sparring only" training mentality won't help Justen in a regular match.  At least he lasted a full three rounds this time around.  Justen sparred with Earl.  TJ didn't have a mouthpiece, and Suave had eaten right before he came to the gym.

Ben was the only teen to show up for the next class.  Ben's having girlfriend problems, so it helped for him to take some of his frustrations out on the equipment.

No adults showed up.  Nay usually shows up late, but after waiting 15 minutes after the usual time she shows up, I put the equipment away.  By the time I was finished, if she had walked in, she wouldn't have had that much time to work out anyway.  Doesn't look like I'm going to have any adults competing in any of the park district boxing shows this year.

Some guy came in to ask about when the gym was open.  I gave him the information.  After he left, I wondered how he could have missed the schedule which is posted on the outside gym door.  Then I wondered if the guy could have been one of X's friends that he was going to send down to the gym.  Good thing I emphasized that the adult class has a fee.  I'm not interested in having another frustrating conversation with another man who wants to come in my gym and do whatever he wants.

I Think I Have A Hinge Problem

Kenny works with Kathy on the punch mitts in the photo above.

While I was sparring with Kathy later, I heard Kenny ask Alan, "Hillari's still sparring?  How old is she?"  Alan said, "Uh, I think Hillari is 50-something."  After wards, I told Kenny how old I am, and he did a double take.  "Damn!  That's good," he said.

My left knee was not cooperating while I was sparring.  Ever since I was hit by a car on Clark Street a few years ago, that knee just hasn't been right.  The hinge is damaged.  If only I had gone to the doctor that day. . . .sometimes, people have to learn the hard way that we are not invincible.

John and Jesus sparred.  Ben also sparred.  Alan sparred with Scott, catching him in the face a few times.  One of the punches bloodied Scott's nose.  I wiped the blood off with a nearby towel.  That's been my job a lot lately, at both Loyola and LaFollette -- wiping off blood off of someone.

I'm making a point this month of working on giving hooks to the body.  I seldom use those punches, and I need to do so.  I'm making the kids at LaFollette work on body punches, too.  It's not only in light of the fact that the boxing show is next month, but because I'm tired of the kids always head-hunting and not throwing other punches.  They've got to get in the habit of practicing all of the punches, since they will soon be facing other kids who always use all of their punches.