Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ariel vs. Ben

I had Tayjon and James do some inside fighting during their sparring time.  The boys had to keep one foot inside the tire in the gym as they duked it out.  James got popped a couple of times, landing on the floor.  As he got up slowly, I asked him if he was okay.  James held his lower back.  "I hurt here," the boy said, without much emotion.  A few moments later, he and Tayjon went back to sparring.

James doesn't seem to get upset about much, which is a blessing.  It means he will probably fight with a cool head during a regular boxing match.  I also learned that Tayjon has heavy hands.  We'll have to work on Tayjon being able to control the force of his punches, especially for sparring purposes.

I smiled when Ben showed up for the teen class after being AWOL for about three weeks.  Immediately I set up sparring between him and Ariel.  Ben had his usual excuses and concerns.  "Remember, I haven't done this in awhile," he told me.  I asked both him and Ariel to go light.  Ben was turning his back too many times, and Ariel worked the body shots.  I was hoping she'd put a little more pressure on him, but she did very well for her first time sparring.

They did a couple of rounds, and then Ben left to hang with his cousin Devin. Devin was in the building, but had opted to go to the fitness center instead.  His other cousin, Lacey, allegedly got his days mixed up, which was his excuse for not being at the gym.  Really?  So I guess Lacey has something else he's trying to do along with boxing.  Devin worried about building up his muscles, I guess. Whatever. . .I can't keep making absent kids my problem.  I need to focus on the ones who do show up regularly.

I'm down to one jump rope.  Another one broke yesterday, and no, there's been no word about when I'm going to receive the ones that I ordered back in March.  Yes, I know this is July.

Taking It Personally

I was poised to get a good shot of Alan and his son talking in-between rounds of Matt's sparring session with Rojan.  Then they both noticed I had the camera and started clowning.

Note in this photo that Matt is not wearing headgear, but Rojan is.  Matt later complained of being out of shape (although he looked fine to me).  He didn't want to knock anyone out, but he wanted to throw hard enough punches so that the other people (he also sparred with John) could feel like they had been hit with something.

Loyola Park gym was fairly packed the other night.  As usual, LaFollette Park gym was not.  Donovan has gone out of town, so only Tayjon and James were in the kids' class.  But James may be more of a leader than I think.  Both him and Tayjon walked into the gym together.  James was giving Tayjon instructions about what they were going to do at football practice after wards.  Upon hearing that Donovan was not going to return until later in the week, James told Tayjon, "Make sure you bring your mouthpiece tomorrow."  James let him know that he has plans to spar.

Turns out that Jaelen, like Tayjon and James, is also on the football team.  I saw him wearing his uniform.  The younger boys manage to make it boxing, but the teen class, which Jaelen is in, goes on the same time football practice does.  Tayjon and James have been leaving early to go to football practice, too.  I think their season starts next month.  If they sign up for the fall boxing class, that will have an impact on how often they can actually come to class.  The best I can do is to recruit more kids to cover the spots the boys will not often be occupying.

Ariel came in, but she told me her mother couldn't attend the adult class that day due to a prior commitment.  I showed Ariel various ways to get out of the corners when pinned in by another fighter.  We also went over how to grab someone's arms and elbows to slow down or stop a barrage of punches.  She really wants to learn the ins and outs.  I remain disappointed that the others in the teen class don't show up regularly so she can practice her skills on them.

Alan suggested that I don't take it personally when people slack off like that.  But most times I do.  I still suspect that one of reasons Xavier hasn't been in is I refused to allow some friend of his to come to the gym and help train him.  In my gym?  I don't think so.  I also think Xavier thinks his friend, whose credentials appear to be suspect, can do a better job than me, probably because his friend is male.  I wish I hadn't allowed Ben's cousins -- who don't even live in Chicago -- to take the last two open spots in the teen boxing class.  They don't come in, and even if they did, Devin and Lacey still wouldn't have enough time to train for the boxing shows.  Those two will be gone back to their home state by the end of next month.  Ben has the advantage as he has been there for months, but Ben has only been in class two times since the summer began.  Plus, Ben has numerous excuses for not wanting to take a fight, and I'm no longer interested in hearing those excuses.

Mike, the kickboxing instructor, told me he has the same problems regarding attendance.  During the fall and winter, people are present, but as soon as the weather starts showing signs of warming up, people suddenly become busy doing other things.

I learned that Kentrell, the obnoxious kid whom I have banned from the gym, has been working the nerves of some other staff members as well.  Good to know that I'm not the only one who has low tolerance for Kentrell's antics.  It just makes it easier for me to make the ban stick.

This week, I will turn in a request for a flier announcing the fall boxing class.  I sure hope I get the fliers back early.  I could hardly use the fliers for the summer class because by the time they showed up, class had already started.  Thank God for word of mouth, because I might not have had anyone in the summer class at all.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Humidity and Excuses

Tayjon was MIA again, but my two most consistent people, Donovan and James, showed up for class.  Today was a sparring day, and the usual procedure is to let them warm up and work out for a half-hour, then begin sparring the second half of the hour.  Donovan really pays attention to what he does in the ring, but James isn't there yet.  It's a good thing that I monitor the action closely.

James took a lot of hits to his head and face.  If James wouldn't turn his head, have his eyes closed, sneak glances at the timer, put both fists out at once, lean on the ropes constantly, rely on staying in the corners, etc., then the boy's technique would be a little better.  Donovan is becoming more confident, and I worry that James might get hurt.

However, I can't fault James completely because each and every time he's in the gym, he does the workout and tries his best.  Donovan just keeps getting better and better, and Ariel has natural talent to work with.  It's too bad that the others signed up for the program don't have the same motivation.  I've just about given up on Xavier, Terence, Jackie, and Jaelen.  They haven't been around for weeks.

Ben has disappointed me with non-attendance, as well.  I closed up the gym early today because I knew that Ariel's mother would not be attending the adult class due to a previous commitment.  The other adults have long disappeared.  Chicago is currently in the midst of a heat wave, and I didn't feel like sitting alone in a hot gym.  While I was standing in the office area behind the front desk, I spotted Ben, one of his cousins, and Ben's father coming out of the fitness room.  I grumbled to myself, Ben and his cousin can lift weights, but they can't come to boxing?

I called Ben up to the front desk to explain himself.  Inwardly, I rolled my eyes as he went on about being "busy" and how his other cousin who is in the class (but who wasn't in the field house at that time) hasn't been coming around to his house.  "There are boxing shows back to back in August and September.  I'm going to those shows regardless of whether or not people in the class decide to show up for them.  As for your cousins, they begged and pleaded to get into the class, but they've only shown up once.  That's two spots that two other people who would have attended regularly, could have had," I told him.  Ben didn't have much to say after that, and frankly, I wasn't interested in hearing more excuses.

Ariel is in the teen class along with Ben, but she's never met him or his cousins because they have never been there when she is there.  She is eager to try sparring.  I was just telling her mother the other day that I was not worried about Ariel holding her own against the boys.  She has good, strong hands, and good movement.  But she can't get the sparring work in because the others keep skipping class.  I would spar with her, but my shoulder has been acting up for weeks.  It is highly frustrating to a coach to have an eager fighter, but keep running into walls trying to get them the training they need.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not Getting It

William asked me to open up the room where the seasonal sports coach keeps most of his equipment.  The seasonal sports coach was sitting right behind the door.  "I'm sorry, I don't want to knock anyone over," I said to the coach.  Then I looked up and spotted Kentrell.

Kentrell is the kid who shows up at the gym on and off, goofing around with the equipment.  Several sessions ago, he and his brother Quintrell, used to be registered for the boxing class.  Neither boy was that interested in the sport. Every time I warn Kentrell off of the equipment, the boy lies and says he's still registered for the class, or says his mother signed him up.  We have the same conversation each time, and I have told Kentrell I'm tired of repeating myself to him.  Then Kentrell has the nerve to get an attitude because I won't let him do whatever he wants.  The last time, Kentrell hit the flex bag (which is now broken) on his way out in defiance of me.

In front of the seasonal coach, I announced to Kentrell that he was no longer allowed in the boxing gym unless he brings his mother with him.  Now the boy can try me again if he wants, but when I throw him out if he shows up again, I have the seasonal coach as a backup to prove that the boy disregarded my direct order.

An adult walked in to the gym and started hitting the speed bag.  I was in the ring holding the punch mitts for Donovan.  The adult said nothing to me before touching the equipment.  I curtly told the guy he had to sign up if he wanted to do that before resuming working with Donovan.  He gave me a dumb Urkel-like "oh, I guess I wasn't supposed to do that?" look.  Several minutes later, the guy returns, accompanied by the attendant on duty.  "You're the coach?" the guy asked in great disbelief.  "Women do coach," I replied coldly.   Who in the hell did the guy think I was?  The fact that I was working with Donovan should have given him a hint.  After I explained that adults have to pay for boxing class, it appeared the guy's interest faded.  Strike one.

About a half-hour later, the guy returns with his teenage son.  The guy's son didn't appear to be overly interested in seeing the gym.  I told the guy the class was full.  Unfortunately, a lot of parents don't seem to know what "full" means.  The guy started whining about his son only being with him for the summer, and him wanting the kid to have something to do before he sends him home to his mom.  Strike two.

I proceeded to point out that it is now the middle of July, and most summer programs have long been filled by this time.  The guy thought that I should give his son a "tryout".  Seeing how that meant letting his kid use equipment without being officially in the class, that was a no from me.  Strike three, and the guy was out.

Against my better judgement, I did tell the kid he could come in the class and sit and watch.  But I have a feeling that may involve me having to tell his dad -- way more forcefully the next time -- that I'm not going to allow his kid to participate in the class.  My filter when it comes to parents who want to do something that will compromise the program, be unfair to the other kids in the program and inconvenience me is slowly becoming non existent.

The attendant told me, "Some people just don't get it," as he shook his head.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Steam Bath Gym

LaFollette boxing gym might as well have been a steam bath.  The heat just hang over the room.  I was sweating profusely, and it wasn't comfortable for anyone else, especially Ariel.  She worked out for a half-hour before she just had to give it up for the day.

I noticed how Ben's father was very concerned yesterday about his son and his nephews Devin and Lacey all being able to work out together.  However, none of them showed up for the teen class today.  Not a good look, especially for Ben, who has already missed three full weeks of class.

Tayjon saw me earlier when he came down to get his afternoon snack.  Tayjon, like James, attends the summer camp.  He promised me he would show up to class, but he didn't.  Only James and Donovan were there, and they sparred.  Today I realized that James is also on the football team.  "Coach Hillari, can I go to the washroom and put on my uniform?" he asked me near the end of the kids' class.  I would love to see how James does out on the football field.  He may be doing a little better there than he is in the boxing gym.

The summer camp kids keep messing around with the standalone pull up bar in the gym.  The other day, one of the kids was standing on the weight that I use to keep it stable.  I finally took the pull up bar out of the gym.  Most of the kids and adults can't reach it because it is too high.  My main concern has always been that the bar is not that stable.  I've always been worried that it might tip over on someone.  Maybe one of these days, the park district will allow me to order a better one.

The most beautiful rainbow was outside of the field house when I left for the day.  Too bad I didn't have my camera with me.  God does good work, you know.  I took the rainbow as a sign that things are beginning to look up.  I certainly hope so.

Coaching In Two Places

I was coaching more than I was working out at Loyola Park.  Marta needed help with a bobbing and weaving move that Alan had showed her the previous week.  She was a little frustrated with what she perceived as her slow progress, and she wanted to do better.  Marta practiced that move for the majority of the evening.  Alan told her he'd like to get her sparring at some point.

After weeks of mostly inactivity on my part, I was moving better while I was at Loyola.  I spent a lot of time on the double-end bag slipping and ducking.  When I returned to LaFollette Park the following day, I did some shadowboxing during the hour when the eight-to-twelve year olds are in the gym.  A lot of it I was doing to give James an example.  James is doing better, but he still needs to work on his footwork and general body movement.

I had a feeling I should check the class rosters.  Looks like someone slipped another kid into the eight-to-twelve year old class without telling me.  They also disregarded the fact -- again -- that the class was over the established limit of people that should be there.  I was glad that the latest kid didn't show up.  I'm in the middle of preparing whom I have on hand for the boxing shows.  I really don't have the time, nor interest, to deal with another person who is coming into the class nearly a month after it has already started.

The teen class is now full, and hopefully, other staff will respect the class limit (as well as the fact that the class is nearly halfway over) and not register anyone else.  Ben finally showed up to the gym, and brought along two of his cousins, Devin and Lacey, who are now signed up for the class.  Ben's father remained in the gym with them and ran them through a workout.

No adults bothered to show up for their class.  Instead, talky Elizabeth and her older sister Samaia decided to hang out in the gym to kill time until they had to go somewhere else.  Once again, I had to remind Elizabeth that she's not in the class, so she can't use the equipment (a conversation that I'm really tired of constantly having with her).  Elizabeth started talking about signing up for the class, like she always does, but she's not interested in sparring nor competing.  It was established back around the time the spring session began that her mother does not want her in the class.  Maybe Elizabeth thinks if she keeps bringing it up, her mom will magically change her mind.  I don't think that's going to happen.

I can accept the adults telling me they don't want to compete.  Most are just looking for a different type of exercise.  When I hear kids telling me they don't want to spar, they don't want to compete. . . .I'm sorry, but I wonder why they signed up for the class.  That's what the class is designed for -- to give youths the chance to show their skills.  My experience so far is if a kid is in the class for some other purpose other than competing, soon, I will have a bored, restless kid on my hands who won't have motivation to only do the workout.  A kid being bored and restless often leads to them disrupting the class which I'm not going to tolerate.

Maybe I shouldn't grumble.  At least I haven't had to deal much with the summer camp kids this time around, nor the wear and tear those kids had put on the gym last year.  So far, so good.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Rained Out Punches

James is also in the summer day camp at the field house.  I saw him in the hall and greeted him.  The camp coordinator asked if he was in my boxing class, and I affirmed that he was.  "That boy is about to get put out of camp," she said.  James is the quietest kid in the boxing gym.  Surprised, I asked, "For what?"  I was told that James keeps walking up on the other kids and daring them to fight him.

Some kids think just because they are showing up at a boxing gym and jumping around that they are the new Muhammad Ali.  I'm sure hoping James is not thinking that, because, unfortunately, James will find out the hard way that's not the case if this bullying stuff keeps up.  I like James, even though I'm constantly frustrated by the fact that the kid seems to be in his own world most of the time.  Plus, James is very unfocused and uncoordinated.  I cringe when he spars.  I don't dare put him in any boxing shows right now, and fortunately, his parents agree with me.

Maybe I will talk with him about his behavior, without letting on who told me about it.  I've mentioned before that I'm not in the business of training bullies.  On the other hand, maybe I should not say anything.  Saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and experiences the consequences is very good lesson to learn for most kids.

Another kid saw me counting change.  I must have been in a mood, anticipating what I would face later at Garfield Park.  "I would like a quarter," the kid had the nerve to day.  "Ask your mother to give you one," I replied without taking a beat.

The show at Garfield Park was canceled, but I didn't learn that until after I had driven up there.  The supervisor there informed me that George, the coach, had left for the day, as well.  Sigh. . . .seriously, I was a little ticked that I wasted gas going up there.  The boxing show had been canceled from the main office downtown.  I had been at LaFollette most of the day -- I couldn't have gotten a phone call?  It's just as well that happened.  Xavier and Terance, both of whom I was hoping would be able to compete at Garfield, have been absent again for a few days.  Most of the boxers at Garfield are no joke; my fighters seriously need to stop skipping days of training.

The rain came down later, so the boxing show probably would have been canceled for that reason, too.  I got turned around on the way back (my sense of direction seems to be much better when I'm on public transportation), and I ended up taking a longer way home.  I passed Clarendon Park where Alan was the boxing coach for about thirty years.  I've always thought the program there should have never been shut down.  I'm still confused as to why it was.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Heck Of A Good Straight Right

The usual three -- Donovan, Tayjon, and James -- made it to the first boxing class today.  Luckily, I felt relaxed and ready for them because I did not have much interaction with the summer camp kids.  Camp started today, and yes, the summer camp kids are still getting their breakfast, lunch, and snack boxes by traipsing through my gym.

Tayjon and James just aren't picking up the boxing techniques very well.  Once again, Donovan saved the hour by helping to explain things clearer to them.  When his father came to pick him up, I told him how much of a help his son has been to me in that way.  "My wife and I also hear that all the time from his teachers at school about how Donovan is a good leader," his father said.  I also believe that comes from being raised well at home.

Jaelen and Ariel finally returned to the teen class after being AWOL for several days.  Jaelen showed up a bit late.  However, Ariel came in looking dejected and upset.  Her mother told me that Ariel wants to hang out with her friends, but fails to understand the commitment she made to be in the boxing class.  "She has to come to training regularly, especially if she wants to compete in the boxing shows," I told her mom.  Ariel's grandmother was there, too, and I explained to them about how the boxing shows work.

I was holding pads for Ariel later, thinking I was holding them at the right distance.  I told her to do a double left jab and then a straight right.  Her right hand got in too far and my glasses were knocked to the side.  I also took a hit to my eye.  Later, when I was driving home, I noticed the sight in that eye was blurry.  Ariel has a heck of a good straight right.  I'm hoping she sticks around so I can get her matched up in a few of the boxing shows.