Friday, August 25, 2017

Hanging Out At Harrison Park

Even though I brought gear with me to Harrison Park last night, I did not expect Abrahant (or Abraham, as I refer to the boy) to show up.  Iz is out of town for the next two weeks, and Abraham never made a solid commitment to go to Harrison Park's boxing show.  I know I gave Iz and Abraham's parents a boxing show schedule long before the summer session ended.  Since I'll be riding public transportation to Eckhart Park's show next week just like I did to travel to Harrison Park last night, I won't trouble myself by bringing any gear along.  It's doubtful that Abraham will show up there, either.

I had no participants, and Thomas had enough people to judge the bouts, so I just hung around to watch the fights.  There were some good ones, including one between two pre-teen girls.  I think the girl who won was out of Ogden Park.  I congratulated her afterward because she was handling her business well in the ring.

A check of the people who signed up for LaFollette Park's fall boxing class revealed that my favorite pigeon-toed, video-game obsessed kid, James, has registered again.  I hope that means that his grades are back in order.  James' poor grades have kept him out of the gym for a session and a half.

Marty, the coach at Simons Park, pointed out a truth:  the ones who aren't serious and motivated enough to follow through with boxing eliminate themselves out of the class.  I've only had to ban a handful of individuals from the class for behavioral and discipline problems.  The others who willfully refuse to keep up do me a favor by either dropping out before the session ends or not registering for the next session.

The idea was brought up that perhaps my week at work could be split up by having the kids new to the class show up three days a week and having the more advanced kids show up two days a week.  It's a nice idea on the surface that would help me direct my focus on which participants need what.  But as long as scatter shot attendance continues among the youths, the idea is not feasible.  The boxing program at LaFollete Park has to be much stronger than it is currently to handle that type of schedule.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Participation Vs. Numbers

My boss told me yesterday that I should have at least five people signed up in the youth boxing classes.  "There's no way that a free class shouldn't be full," he said.  That is true, but it doesn't work like that.  I can't force people to sign up regardless if they do not have to pay money. Boxing is a hard sell to kids who are more interested in MMA and professional wrestling.  The sport takes patience and being focused to learn, but the attention spans of most kids today have been damaged by their exposure to video games and inappropriate video clips on YouTube and WorldStar.

Some parents are okay with their kids being knocked around during football and basketball games, but draw the line at them taking punches.  Too many parents either because of willful inattention or just plain laziness don't keep up with registration schedules.  I don't often have a full class until late in the session and one of the main excuses I hear from parents who sign up their kids late is, "Oh, I forgot."  A lot of parents don't bother to keep up with the class schedule, either. For example, I still get people showing on Tuesday asking me, "Where were you yesterday?"  I've been working there for three years, and the gym has never been open on Mondays.

Boxing is not that appealing to the adults around that area, either.  Adults have told me they just want to hit the bags, but they only seem to want to do it when the mood hits them.  They don't want to pay for it, either, despite being shown that private gyms charge steep fees and those fees don't usually include receiving training.

Frankly, I could care less about numbers.  Participation is more important to me.  Showing a full roster on paper means nothing when sparring sessions can't take place because only one kid showed up to the class that day.  Having every slot full doesn't amount to much when I've been sitting in an empty gym most of the week.  I refuse to buy into the idea that it more acceptable for people to sign up than it is for people to show up and be present.  Unfortunately, I have learned that some with the Chicago Park District do not have an interest in doing a day's work for a day's pay.  They brag about having "easy jobs" and making "easy money".  It doesn't matter to them that a class or activity performing poorly because the less they have to do, the better.   They only do enough to avoid being written up or fired. But I wasn't raised to have a poor work ethic.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Last Week Of A Thankless Session

Being a boxing coach can be a very thankless job.  I am so glad that this is the last week of the summer session.  On top of this being a crappy season for me personally, it also has not been a good one at the gym.

I'm still trying to figure out how people can sign up for a class in the middle of the session and then decide they're not going to attend half of the time.  That's exactly what happened this session.  It happens during most of the year, but it's way more glaring in the summer when I'm trying to gather a decent number of people to participate in the boxing shows.  Youths disappear without them (or their parents/guardians for that matter) giving me a heads-up as to why.

Last week, I was getting into my car to go home when I spotted Ariel hanging out in the park with several of her friends.  She could have and should have been in the gym that day.  She's only been there four times during this 10-week period.  I'm fresh out of ideas as to what to do in that situation.  Julius, a personal trainer at the field house, and I had given her a long talk some time ago about prioritizing things and practicing good time management.  I now have to assume we weren't being heard.  Ariel has been in the program a little over a year and her class attendance has become worse during each session.

Maurice's mom signed him up for the fall session. But they don't live in the immediate area, and his mom is a seasonal employee at the field house.  I like Maurice, but I have the sinking feeling that he won't finish out the fall session if he actually attends it at all.  Maurice hasn't been showing up much for the current session and he never made it to any of the boxing shows.  On top of that, his brother never showed up for the teen class.  He told his mom he didn't want to be in the class after she signed him up, probably without asking him if he was interested.

At least the gym didn't suffer as much of the wear and tear from the summer camp kids and counselors this time around.  I'd like to think the ongoing mutual dislike between the camp coordinator and I had something to do with that.  Now that she (and our supervisor) knows without question that I don't appreciate the summer camp kids being in my gym,  I haven't had to walk into much disarray down there.  I'm guessing no one wanted to hear my complaints.

I gave up a while ago on keeping the gym open during the breaks in-between sessions.  Sitting in an empty gym twiddling my thumbs because most don't bother to come to class during the regular session is already NOT a good use of my precious time.  I'm not going to do the same in-between sessions.  My time would be put to better use entering the attendance records, cleaning the equipment, sweeping up the equipment room, making fliers, and other tasks that I can't easily get done during the regular sessions.

Unfortunately, I'm not expecting better from the fall session, despite the adult class having been added back onto the schedule.  Two things keep coming to my mind.  Maybe if the youths were also being charged a fee for the class like the adults are,  the boxing coaches wouldn't have to deal with so many youths who have no interest, motivation, or focus.  The second thing is, I have yet to see the community's alleged interest in wanting the boxing program to be re-established at LaFollette.  As far as I'm concerned, there's not much interest at all.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Stood Up At Seward

It rained hard at various times today.  But luckily, the ring was able to be moved into the basketball gym at Seward Park, so the boxing show went on.  Just as I expected, neither Iz, his brother Abraham, nor David showed up.  I shouldn't take it personally when the kids stand me up at these shows because they lose out on opportunities, not me.  But I get irritated anyway.  I always see kids with whom they could have been matched up.

Hamlin Park had the most number of fighters there.  Alan showed me a text from Barry saying that all of Barry's fighters couldn't make the show.  Alan also received a text from Ben who couldn't make it because he couldn't get out of work early enough.  Boxers from Taylor, Portage, and Fuller rounded out the rest of the participants.

I spent the entire show judging the matches, and most of them very close.  The Taylor Park fighters were particularly rough in their dealings with opponents.

Mike G. was judging, too, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him.  His show is next week at Sheridan Park.  I'll try again to get some of my fighters to actually attend.  However, this summer hasn't particularly been a good one, and I'm not expecting any better this season.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Back To The Shows

Seward Park's show is this week.  I'm bracing myself for the youths and parents who believe they should be chauffeured to every boxing show.  No matter how much I tell people they have to get there on their own, there is always someone expecting taxi service.   Some parents act very excited to have their kids learn to box but forget there are competitions for the kids to participate in.  There is always a lack of understanding regarding schedules.

Iz and Abraham told me they may not be able to attend.  Anthony already told me he doesn't want to compete (although his dad may have other ideas). Jamire has never wanted to be there from the beginning.  So that leaves the other kids, but their attendance has become very iffy over the past few weeks.  For example, Jayda has not been in the gym for two weeks straight with no explanation.  I called myself not going to the shows for a few weeks to give the youths who signed up in the middle of the session a chance to catch up on the training.  However, that might not have been enough time, especially for those youths without focus, motivation, etc.

Regardless, I have to attend a certain number of shows each summer.  If the youths show up but don't get a fight, I still have to help out at the show because that is part of my job.  If the youths tell me they will attend, but don't show up, I still have to work.  If none of them want to go, I will still shut down the gym for that night to go help out at a show.  One of the reason is that it is a chance to get out of the field house once in awhile, especially since I've become very intolerant of stuff being pulled by staff and customers alike.  I need the break.