Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stunned and Sidetracked

This past Friday, I allowed Donovan and Davante to spar.  I should have pulled out the scale beforehand.  If I had, I would have known that Donovan was giving up 40 pounds to Davante who is 200 pound.  Davante knocked Donovan to the canvas twice.  The second time, I could really feel that punch.  I cringed before rushing inside the ring.  Donovan wasn't knocked out, but he was stunned badly.  It was several minutes before he got up off of the canvas.

Today, I told both Davante and Ariel (Donovan didn't come in, and Maz remains a no-show) that they need to make sure they are not putting full strength on their punches during sparring.  Both of them have heavy hands.  Ariel asked me why I never spar with her anymore.  "My back keeps bothering me," I told her truthfully. 

I didn't spar at Loyola Park last night.  I told Erica about my ongoing back problems.  "You don't want to do anything that might bring on permanent damage," she told me, and she was right.  There was a lot of sparring action going on yesterday; the place was packed.  I wish I could have got in on some of the action.  It's going to be a long time before I can do that again.  I still haven't had the MRI yet due to snafus involving my current health insurance.  The test will have to be pushed off until February, or perhaps, March.  Luckily, I discovered long ago that I have a tolerance for ongoing pain.

Charles, Tyler's grandfather, sat in on the kids' class today.  I noticed the difference when Charles helped Tyler and James with their training -- they willingly listened to him.  That further fueled my suspicion that a lot of the younger kids don't give me my respect because I'm a female.  The boys gave him no trouble.  I did tell Charles that all of the boys are guilty of playing on their cell phones while in the gym.  "Tyler shouldn't be doing that, and he doesn't need that phone while he's in here," his grandfather said.  I'm glad I've got back up from at least one parent/guardian about that. 

It's been a long day.  I started it with a small group Bible study at Starbucks at 6:00 AM. The new church I joined is big on small groups, but I hadn't been able to attend any mainly because of my work schedule.  It took a lot to get out of bed early, but I made it.  It was time well spent.  Once again, I was the only woman in the gathering.  Then I went up to Mandrake Park to have an interview about the coach's job opening at Eckhart.  Come to find out that, first, the interview had been scheduled on the wrong day by human resources.  Then I was told that I didn't need to interview.  What I need to do is put in a transfer request.  I'll talk to my boss about it tomorrow, but I suspect he's going to try and convince me to stay at LaFollette.  Push comes to shove, I will.  However, my main reason for wanting to switch to Eckhart is because of the long commute to get to LaFollette.  Whether I am on the bus (which I was today) or in the car, it takes a little too long to get to work from my house.

Speaking of the car, it is fixed now.  A corroded fuse box was the culprit.  I took a bit of a hit to my tight budget to pay for it, but at least the car is up and running.  Now to focus on paying the next bill, which is for my coach's license.  There's a coach's clinic this weekend.  At first I was considering skipping it.  Then I realized the last time I was certified was two years ago when Colonel and I both attended a clinic.  Once I get that done, then I can exhale for a while. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Rules For This Year

The car died on me in the middle of the street last night.  The check engine light came on, which is never a good sign.  Then the car slowed down.  I was able to restart it and park it near my domicile.  Luckily, I wasn't too far away from my home when that happened.  My budget is very tight, and there's a possibility that the car may not be able to be fixed, depending upon what is wrong with it.

Of course, that meant I had to ride public transportation up to LaFollette today.  My boss was not on the premises, but he sent a message that he did turn in a special event request -- to allow for a ring to be set up outside for June's boxing show -- to the area manager.  After I found that out, I went on up to Eckhart Park for the boxing coach's meeting.

I like Thomas, the head of the boxing program because he's not much for a whole lot of nonsense.  He explains the reasoning as to why some things happen, why some things can't happen, and he gets straight to the point.  We went over the agenda for this year.  I knew beforehand that the park district budget had been cut down, so there was not going to be much any of the coaches could do about demanding extra equipment.  There is a private donor who donates funds to the program, but as Thomas pointed out, those funds have to be spent carefully.

When I see the kids at LaFollette again, I'm going to push two things:  the Chicago City-Wide Boxing tournament, and the Muhammad Ali Award.  The tournament takes place every year in April, and I have yet to have someone compete in it.  It's a good warm-up to the regular boxing shows that start in the summer.  The way things are looking down at the gym right now, I would be better off talking the tournament up to the teenagers.  The younger kids aren't showing much interest in the sport -- something that a few other coaches at the meeting were grumbling about, as they have the same problem.

The Muhammad Ali Award will be given to the best park district fighter of the year.  Judging will be based on the fights a person has had.  There was also talk of perhaps giving an award for Coach of the Year, as well.

I also have more backup when it comes to parents using the boxing program as a glorified babysitting service.  That does not seem to be the case with the kids who have been showing up to the 8-to-12-year-olds' class so far this session.  But it has been a major issue in the past.  Thomas told the coaches to inform the field house supervisors and have them suggest to the parents to move their kids into other activities, especially if the kids appear to show no interest in participating in the class activities.  We were also encouraged to inform the parents that boxing is indeed a sport and that there are expectations of the kids while they are in the class.

Thomas also let it be known that showboating and general goofing around from fighters at the boxing shows was no longer going to be tolerated.  I think I know where that decision came from.  There were some very disrespectful fighters at a boxing show I attended during the late summer/early fall.  A few of the coaches had to check them on their behavior.  Any fighter who is dancing around in the ring, talking trash to the other fighter during the match, etc., will have points taken from them.

Ada Park has a new coach named Emmanuel.  The search is still on for coaches to run boxing classes at Eckhart, Humboldt and Scottsdale.  I hope those get filled soon.  It would be nice to have a full roster of coaches.

Friday, January 13, 2017

First Week Problems

So far, the winter boxing session has been off to a bad start.  I don't like to call the kids when they don't show up for class.  It's not a good use of my time.  Against my better judgment, I did call Donovan and Maz's homes.  Donovan has been "busy" and decided that he couldn't come to class today, either.  I should have been informed of that earlier in the week.  I got voice mail when I tried to contact Maz.  I left a message regarding the new attendance policy that is in place.  Unfortunately, both Maz and Donovan are currently in danger of running afoul of that policy.

Out of eleven kids who are registered for the youth class, only Davion, Tyler, and James showed up.  They were so busy fiddling around with their cell phones that they could not focus on what they were supposed to be doing.  James kept prattling on about video games and TV shows.  One of the other two boys complained about being bored.  Well, if they would actually train instead of goofing around or sitting and staring into space like deer in headlights, maybe they wouldn't be bored.  I gave the usual statements about the need to train in order to win fights, but they weren't listening.  I had enthusiasm in the beginning of class, but it fizzled quickly in the face of the kids' lack of motivation and interest.  Davion seemed surprised by the idea that any of them would participate in boxing competitions.  Really?  What does he think the class is about?

Sparring early during the class didn't seem to do much to raise the boys' interest.  Davion was giggling through most of his time in the ring.  James still has a long way to go.  At least his headgear wasn't coming off constantly like it usually does.  Tyler showed some promise, but he keeps his hands down too much.  I worked on head movement with Davion and Tyler afterward.  However, James was too enamored with video game hack videos on YouTube to get in gear for punch mitt work.

Davante was the only one who showed up for the teen class.  He told me he would cut his Saturday baseball practice short to come to the gym.  But I encouraged him to go.  After all, Davante has shown up the other days of the week, and he seems eager to learn about boxing.  I'm not going to have a problem with him going to baseball practice on Saturdays.

Group lessons are included on my lesson plan for the classes.  But it is hard to do them when everybody does not show up at one time.  I'm tired of doing the lessons piecemeal -- showing something to a couple one day, then going over the same things again to the ones who decide to stroll in a week or two later, and so on.  But I won't adjust the lesson plan to accommodate those who refuse to get it in gear and get to the class when they are supposed to be there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winter Session, Take Two

There are now eleven kids in the eight-to-12-year-olds' boxing class.  Too bad only two of them showed up today.  I knew I shouldn't have put out that much equipment, but silly me, thinking that I would have a nearly full class of enthusiastic students.  James did his usual sort of half-way workout, while I worked with Tyler, a new kid.

Maz, Ariel, and Donovan didn't bother to show up for the teen class. I would love to know what excuses they had for not being there. That was not a good way to start the session.

Davonte, a 13-year-old, signed up today, bringing the grand total of the teen class to four people.  Davonte is a big kid who also plays football and baseball.  His mother told me her son has baseball practice on Saturdays, which is fine.  It looks like he'll be in the class most days during the week.  It would be good to have Maz and Donovan work with him, although Davonte would be a better match for Ariel when it comes to sparring.  But Davonte's mother seemed a bit concerned about the boys sparring the girls, so that may not happen.

Jaymerson's mother signed him up again.  I sighed when I saw his name on the attendance list.  But Dwayne, the inclusion aide that assists Jaymerson, told me that the boy is also signed up for swimming.  He can only be in boxing two days a week.  Since Jaymerson is not allowed to spar, I suggested the boy show up on Tuesdays and Thursdays (sparring is on Wednesdays and Fridays).  His sister, Morgan, did not sign up again, but that's no loss.  The girl has no interest in the sport.

My boss told me there's a good chance that I will get most of the equipment that I asked for.  I hope so.  It won't drive more people into the class, but I'll feel better that I have the resources to use.

Lights Out At LaFollette

All the lights were out when I arrived at LaFollette Park yesterday.  It appeared that half of the neighborhood was without power.  Steve had left me a voice mail about coming in two hours earlier to finish up my time sheet, but being the non-cell phone lover that I am, I didn't check my messages.  My boss did not, however, mention that the field house had been without power since noon.

The staff had to contact the parents and guardians to come get their kids.  The kids were littering the main hallway, ripping and running, and making all kinds of ear-splitting noises.  I had a hard time hearing a lot of what Ms. Pousey, who handles the senior citizens' activities had to say.  We were talking about the possibility of having a boxing class specifically for seniors that would start earlier in the day.  At some point, some kid parked themselves next to me on the bench where Ms. Pousey and I were sitting.  They were watching a video on their cell phone, and the volume was turned up as loud as it go.  Another staff person asked the kid, "Could you turn that down -- or off?"  "Yeah," I said sarcastically to the kid, "because that is annoying.  Sorry."  I wanted to add, "sorry, not sorry". Yet another staff person heard me and they laughed.

The work day ended early, so basically, I wasted gas driving to the other side of town only to leave an hour after I arrived.  But I was happy to realize that I may have a solution to kids messing up my gym during the summer.  Last summer, I had summer hours, but fortunately, I was not scheduled to run boxing classes for the summer camp kids.  The seniors could have those hours in the summer before the regular boxing classes begin.  It could be done as an aerobic boxing class.  I think the seniors would like it.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Winter's Full House

In this photo, Alan stands in the middle of the ring as he shows techniques to the new people on the first day of the winter session.

There were the familiar faces like John, Paul, Lauren, Reif, Robert, Connor, and Kathy.  There were people who hadn't been in for awhile like Gabby and Erica.  There were a lot of new people including Andrew, who contacted me via this blog to get an idea of how the class would be. The place was packed. Robert asked me, "Is it always like this in January?" I confirmed that it was so.

I did a workout as much as my lower back would allow me.  During the last half of the class, I spent time with some of the new people like Sarah, Stephanie, and Kat, answering questions and helping out where I could.  I also listened closely to what Alan was telling the new people.  Sometimes, I feel I don't explain things well to the youths at LaFollette Park, so I try to pick up on better ways to communicate concepts.

Alan told some of the new women that they could spar with the other women in class including me.  But until I find out what is going on with my lower back, I'm restricting myself from sparring at Loyola Park for a while.  I'm not going to spar with the kids at LaFollette anymore, period.  They need to spar with those closer to their ages and speeds, and I don't need to take hits from the youngsters.  I just hope that Donovan and Maz don't start pulling a lot of disappearing acts this session, especially since at the moment, Ariel is the only girl in the teen class.  She's had the least sparring experience of all three, and she needs to have more.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Good News At The Top of the Year

The photo above is from my high school's annual alumni holiday party that took place late last month.  The lady standing to my right has been a friend of mine since we met on the first day of Kindergarten in September of 1966.  She got on me -- and probably rightfully so -- when she learned of my recent health problems with my back.  "I told you!  That's what you get for all that boxing," she said.  Maybe boxing did contribute to some of it.  I'll find out after I get an MRI later this month.

Ariel finally re-signed up for the teen boxing class.  I was so happy she did that; y'all just don't know.  She's my best fighter right now.  It'll be her, Maz, and Donovan (who I switched to the teen class because of his height and weight) in class together.  They will come in the door already knowing the routine.  All I have to is to convince a few more teens to sign up.

There are eight kids that will start this week in the 12 and under class.  That class is more than half full, and I'm satisfied with that.  However, the only familiar name in the class at the moment is my favorite pigeoned-toed guy, James.  His father came in last week to sign him up.  I explained to him that the only reason James didn't get any park district fights was because the other coaches were concerned about his son hurting their fighters during bouts.  James is bigger than average nine-year-olds and he still needs to lose between 20 to 30 pounds.  "It's hard to get a kid to lose five pounds," his dad told me.  Between James' parents and I, we'll work on the weight issue.

Do you know this blog was used against me when I was fired from a job I had at a neighborhood church four years ago?  The pastor there didn't like that I aired my grievances against him during our conflicts.  I did go back and edit some of the entries, but I shouldn't have done that.  My blog, my thoughts.  I write what I want. "I have freedom of speech," I snapped at him during a meeting where he manipulated the congregation into also revoking my 30-plus-years membership. Well, at the top of this year, I received news that pastor has resigned.  Actually, it was suggested that a resignation would look better on his resume than to have been fired, which was definitely going to happen.  I gloated for a minute because payback is a bitch.  I learned some time ago that all I have to do is wait, and I will see misfortune visited upon those who messed with me.  There's no doubt that the guy brought all of this on himself.  But it's also sad.  Pushing fifty years of age with no job, has a wife at home that he refuses to let work (and unfortunately, she likes being a Stepford wife), with two young kids to take care of at that?  Wow.  Now he knows what it is to be counted out.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Slow Sign Ups

On New Year's Day, Antenna TV ran a marathon of "The Joey Bishop Show" (1961-1965).  I watched Bishop's late night talk show when I was a kid, but I didn't remember ever seeing his sitcom, which was on TV several years before the talk show.  One episode featured comedian Jan Murray.  Murray and Bishop had agreed to put on a "comedic" boxing match to raise funds for a boys' club.  Bishop's manager tells him that he saw Murray working out in New York's Central Park.  Actually, Murray had been running after his dog who had slipped off of a leash.  Bishop, concerned that Murray actually wants a real fight, decides that he is going to train for real, too.  The two end up showboating for each other in a local boxing gym.

When the fight happens, Murray throws wild haymakers that miss Bishop by miles.  But Bishop actually got some convincing-looking punches in, leading me to think that maybe the late comedian knew a little about the sport.  Finally, both men realize there has been a misunderstanding.  "Who told you that I was out training?" Murray asks.  Bishop points to his manager, Larry (Corbett Monica).  Both men throw punches at Larry, who runs out of the ring to avoid being punished.

This is the beginning of another week where I will not have much to do other than help watch the front desk (which I'm not crazy about).  All the signs have been put up in the boxing gym, the equipment has been cleaned and checked.  As of right now, I have six kids in the youth class.  Three of the kids, a girl, her brother, and a male cousin of theirs signed up late last week.  However, only Maz and Donovan are on the list for the teen class.  Despite reminders to their parents and guardians, James, Summer, and Ariel have yet to re-sign up.  

I've learned that most parents and guardians in the area let things slip by during the holidays.  I'm not going to be surprised at people waiting three and four weeks to sign up for the class.  But I'm going to be clear from now on about consequences (no sparring, no competing, for example) that will happen due to lack of attendance as well as lack of interest.  I also have a good response for those pushing their kids into the class for self-defense purposes.  "I'm not teaching anyone's kid how to beat up another parent's kid.  Talk to your kid's teacher and principal to solve the bullying problem, teach them how to fight at home, or put them in a proper self-defense class, because this is not it."