Friday, March 31, 2017

Extra People

Derek brought his kids in for sparring today.  One kid became very gassed out. Derek told me the kid, a 14-year-old, likes to smoke.  "Can't do this sport and be a smoker," I told the kid.

I learned that Derek actually signed up 15 kids for the youth class.  Fortunately, even though the staff member who took the registrations took a while to put the names in the system, they did put three of the kids on the wait list.  The class can only hold twelve.  I know that the 21 who have signed up (that's including the six currently signed up for the spring teen class) won't all show up every day at the same time.  I told Derek to bring along the three who are on the wait list.

Once the sparring was done, Derek asked the kids about some things they would like to see changed in their neighborhood.  He also told them about some things he had gone through as a young man.  Derek was once a gang member who ended up doing some time.  But he changed his life around and decided to help kids in the area not to make the same mistakes.  I really liked how he interacted with the kids in that way.

The other day, Steve pulled me aside and told me he would not order women's chest protectors for me.  "I don't want you to get hurt like that," he told me.  "It's not for me.  I don't spar with the kids.  It's for the girls who spar and who might participate in matches," I said to him.  Steve was relieved.  "Oh, for a minute, I thought those would be for you!" he said.  I haven't sparred at Loyola Park in awhile because of my gait problems, but someday, I'll get back to that.  But I cut out sparring with anyone at LaFollette.  I never felt comfortable sparring with the youths in the past so I've cut that out completely.  They need to spar with peers to get experience, not with the old lady running the gym.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Not Feeling A Lack Of Work Ethics

I haven't been to the Golden Gloves this year, and I'm not sure if I will go.  I didn't have any competitors entered in it, and time has been tight with all the other things -- taking in transcription work, attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, crafting stories for confession magazines, etc. -- that have been going on.  I haven't missed a year of going since 2003, but this time. . .I don't know.

Phil, whom I met at Hamlin during a boxing show some months ago, came to the gym to show me some techniques.  Phil is in his 70s, and he would like to pass along knowledge that he has picked up over the years.  I was very appreciative that he did that, and he's planning on coming in again today.  Derek happened to stop in while Phil was there, and he got some knowledge too.

Derek told me he signed up a few more teens for the spring boxing class.  I gave him a roster for the kids' class.  Amazingly, that class is full.  Usually, because of parents taking their sweet time to sign kids up, the class doesn't become full until a few weeks after the session has started.  Derek needs a roster for the teen class as well, so I told him I would print one for him to give to him the next time he comes in.  But yesterday, when I printed the roster, the extra names were not there.

Now I'm irritated.  Not at Derek -- I know he did what he said.  But it's been increasingly apparent that sometimes, patrons aren't being signed up because some staff members just don't feel like registering people at the time people come in.  I don't want to start any friction because I've been in wars with too many co-workers at other jobs in the past.  I'm tired of the conflicts.  However, making up excuses about the system being down, it's too early or too late in the day to register, etc., is NOT acceptable.  Patrons who get turned away may not return later to register for various reasons, including finding some other activity and some other place where the staff's customer service skills were better.  There are days when I don't feel like doing things.  But the company is not paying me to avoid what they hired me to do.

I'm thinking that maybe Derek was told to write down the teens' contact information so it could be entered later.  But that's not how registration is supposed to be done.  Paper registrations were done away with nearly three years ago.  That happened to someone else several months ago.  When they showed to class, their name was not on the attendance list.  Their parent confirmed that they did come in days earlier to register.  I ended up doing the registration to set things right.  If I find out that what happened in this instance, I'll just tell Derek to come to me directly the next time so everything is done correctly.  But I'm still going to be ticked off.  If people handle the programs and activities they are responsible for like that, that's their business. But I would appreciate patrons in my program NOT to be shuffled off like that because of poor work ethics on another staff person's part.

Friday, March 24, 2017

North Lawndale Fighters

Derek showed up with three of his fighters yesterday: his son Derek, Porsche, and Anthony who said he likes to be called "Ant".  If I think a kid's nickname or real name is ridiculous, no, I won't be calling them by that.  Today, he'll be bringing more kids for the purposes of sparring.  "How many kids will you have coming in here?" he asked me.  "We're in the break period between sessions.  They won't be here until April 4th," I answered.  I had half-a-mind to call some of the kids who were in the winter session to get them in for that.  But seeing how most of them hardly showed up during the 50-day session, I decided I wasn't going to waste my time on the phone.  I'll start fresh next month.

Derek runs North Lawndale Boxing League.  The league is not a part of the Chicago Park District.  Derek runs it out of various spaces as well as out of his garage.  The league is allowed to compete in park district boxing shows.  They also go to other amateur boxing competitions.  Derek started the league in 2010 to give back to his neighborhood and to get kids off the street and doing something positive.

Looks like me moving to Eckhart Park is still on the table, but I haven't heard much about the progress on that.  No one has been hired as the coach over there as of yet.  I thinking that a decision should be made soon because the spring session begins the week after next.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Departure and Passed Over At The Gloves

John did fight at the Golden Gloves.  It was a close decision, but John lost.  Michael ended up getting a bye twice, so he's in the semi-finals.  Michael's fight is scheduled for this Friday.  Ben joked and said it would be something if Michael was passed over again.  Perhaps he would then end up in the finals.

Kathy is leaving the gym permanently.  She's going on a road trip, and then she's joining the Peace Corps.  She was a great sparring partner.  I'm sorry to see her go, but she'll have a grand adventure.

Tonight was the first time I had been at Loyola Park in a couple of weeks.  One week I took off due to being tired and sore.  The following week, I babysat for a friend of Nayhomee, who used to train at Loyola.  I got in a good workout despite being as stiff as a board in the beginning.  My body seems to react well to working out before going right back to its usual state. 

Matt had some very good sparring with Ben and John.  Alan sparred with Ben later.  "I know he's not going to beat me up," Alan grinned. 

I'm not really looking forward to tomorrow at LaFollette.  While I don't mind that the coach from Franklin Park (I wasn't aware that any kind of boxing was going on there) has registered some of his kids into the LaFollette boxing program, I am concerned about a couple of the kids.  You see, they had signed up for my program last spring but never showed up to class.  I find it curious that they apparently have been able to show up for a boxing class at Franklin Park, but were not motivated to come to LaFollette in the past.  Franklin Park's coach will train them.  This I gotta see.  I'm tempted to ask the two girls why they're so interested in the sport now considering that they didn't seem to care about it when they were taking up space on the attendance list in my gym. 

There was a ray of hope when Ariel said she wanted to compete in the City-Wide Tournament a few weeks ago.  But I believe the window of time to register for that has closed.  On top of that, Ariel hasn't been in the gym much since then.  In fact, she only showed up seven times during the winter session.  That's seven days out of a total of 50 days in all.  She hasn't signed up again for the spring session, either, even though I reminded her of that some time ago.  I keep hearing that I have to get the attendance numbers up for the classes.  However, most don't bother to sign up until three or four weeks into the session.  I can't do anything about people whom, for whatever reason, won't get it in gear to get their names on the attendance sheets. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

No Effort, No Privileges

Last week, Ariel asked if I could set up some sparring sessions for her.  I was going to call some of the coaches when I realized that it's just about the end of the winter session.  Also, Ariel hasn't been in the gym since that day, and she had not been there for several days before that.  I made the mistake of making that effort for Tyler a few weeks ago; it was a waste of time.  Tyler has basically dropped out of the program along with most of the others.

What I have to let parents and youths alike know is if the youths don't do much of anything in the gym, they will not be allowed to do anything at all in the program. Boxing is not a sport where people can do things half-assed or not at all and expect good results.  I'm not going to let people enter competitions or spar for that matter just because their names are on the attendance list.

I'm already wondering whom of the few who have already signed up are going to "forget" to show up in April when the spring session begins.  I learned to expect that out of some of the adults at Loyola Park each session.  I thought the kids would act differently, but no.  No-shows are now viewed by me as signs of a lack of consideration, a lack of commitment, and poor time management.  I won't make phone calls to find out what happened because I have better things to do with my time.  My time is better spent working with the ones who bother to show up.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Possible Return of Adults

Ariel showed up after another long absence.  She's the third kid who has been missing from the gym due to school. She wants to compete in the City-Wide Tournament which will take place during spring break in April.  I know the weigh-ins are later this month, and I need to find out those dates.

I also need to find sparring for her, since none of the other teens have been coming to class. It's going to be a challenge to find girls at the other park district gyms who are Ariel's age, height, and weight.  It's going to be a challenge to find girls at all.  Not every park district boxing gym has girls.

I proposed to have the adult boxing class put back on the schedule beginning this summer.  Most adults who keep telling me "I just want to hit the bags", don't want to participate in a formal class.  The class has to be marketed to those who may have prior boxing experience but don't want a coach standing over them.   They need to be given the feeling of being in an open gym, even though the park district does not run open gyms.  However, the adults still have to pay for the class whether they want me to coach them or not.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Counting Down The Days

Not long ago, I heard an old interview with Billy Joel (pictured above).  Joel used to box a lot when he was younger.  "I really liked boxing.  I don't know why I gave it up," he said.

As I expected, Jada did not show up on Wednesday as promised by her mother this past Saturday.  The girl acted as if she was extremely enthusiastic about learning to box the last time she was in the gym.  Her mother keeps saying her daughter really wants to participate.  But actions are telling me otherwise.  Jada hasn't been in the gym for three weeks.  It didn't help that she signed up two weeks after the session started, didn't show up until about a week after that, and has been MIA since then.

None of the kids showed up to the gym on Wednesday.  Only Donovan, who's study and homework schedule is heavy, has a valid excuse for not being there. However, James may have been missing again due to his poor grades.  From what I understand, James is still on "punishment" even though he had been allowed to return to the gym.

I saw that Ismael, a new kid, signed up for the spring session.  However, they signed up online.  A quick check of the class description online showed that the line "instructor approval needed" wasn't there as I had requested.  It's also not on the general pI left a voice mail message with the kid's parents that they must talk to me before class starts.