Saturday, January 27, 2018

That's What I Get For Trying To Be Helpful

Looks like the fundraiser that Sahia and Doneisha had graciously stepped up to plan for the boxing program may be dead in the water.  It appears that management is not supportive of the event, nor wants it to take place.  I can understand some of their reasoning why a fundraiser shouldn't take place.  There is a budget for boxing equipment, and there is a warehouse of sports equipment somewhere.  However, I was already told that this year's budget is small, and I may not get everything I want.  I also know that from the past, items I have asked for from the warehouse haven't always been available.

Sigh. . .I don't mind admitting that I'm "feeling some type of way" about this latest development.  It's not just about the equipment.  I've had kids drop out of the program because they could no longer afford the bus fare to get to the field house.  Some can't make it to the boxing shows because of the same reason.  Other kids have wanted items that the park district does not provide for, like boxing shoes, for example.  It would be nice to present awards for most improved boxer, boxer who won the most fights that year, etc., but that's a separate charge as well.

The major sports teams in town support the park district's football, basketball, and baseball programs.  The aquatics program gets good support.  But the boxing program has no powerhouse organization that regularly lends support.  Individuals and businesses have to be approached to possibly donate or the coach -- if they can afford it -- comes out of their pocket to fill needs.

I have to explain management's concerns to Sahia and Doneisha, which I know is not going to go over well with them.  At the moment, I have to throw my hands up in the air because I don't have an alternative plan to deal with this situation.  It's a common theme in my work life going back to the late 1970's:  I initiate something that I intend to be helpful only to have it blocked.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Good Group

Sahia noted during the teen class that it was a good group.  They all work when they are in the gym, and Noel and Makaela have been great at helping the others out with techniques and exercises.  Kalib is talking about signing up for the Chicago Golden Gloves.  Caesar, his brother Richard, and Melissa have been doing well.  
If only the kids' class was running that smoothly.  The class is now full, but a few of the kids who signed up have yet to set foot in the gym.  Jayda, who was in the class over two years ago, re-registered for it, but she has already missed days of class.  She told me that her friend Rosemary planned to sign up again, and I inwardly groaned.  Neither girl did much in the gym the last time they were in the class.  Iz and Abrahant were not in class again day with no explanation.  
However, a nice addition to the kids class is Angelo, a cute half Black, half Puerto Rican kid.  He's been hitting the ground running since he joined the class.  Angelo has very good form, too.  He told me that an uncle of his has a home gym.  I'm thinking that Angelo may have received some boxing training from the uncle, based on the way he moves.
The fundraiser is shaping up nicely.  I was able to print out fliers and hand them out to the kids to pass around.  I sent a note to Marty at Simons Park to ask him if he could bring some boxers from his gym to spar with mine on the day of the fundraiser.  It would be nice if Marlon at Portage Park can bring some boxers over to spar, too.  It'll be in late February.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No Messages and No-Shows

Sahia, Rachey, Mikaela, and Noel returned to boxing class yesterday, and I was glad to see them.  They arrived as the teen class began, and that class was hopping.  A new guy who is 6 foot 2, Kalib, joined the class.  He's had a little training in the past, but I still had to go over most of the basics with him.  Mikaela, Noel, Ceasar, Richard, and Melissa went through their workout fine.  I noticed that Jahnaja strolled in late, but I didn't comment on it.
Iz and Abrahant did their usual habit of consistently showing up a half-hour late to the kids' class, too.  I had to get on Iz about him and his brother disappearing for two days last week with no notice.  This week is only the second week of the winter session and already I have had to deal with unexplained absences and no-shows.  "I was feeling a little sick last week," Iz said, an explanation that covered the first day he was out, but not the second day.  I should have received a phone call on the second day.  And why is it every time one of the brothers is sick, the other one decides they're not going to attend class?  It was the second time I had told them about the new attendance policy.  That was the last time I'm going to warn Iz and Abrahant about the consequences.
There are also a few in the kids' class who haven't made it in yet.  I gave a courtesy call last week to the home of one kid named Abshoun.  "I forgot that class has started," his mother told me.  Well, her memory was really faulty because her kid wasn't there all that week.  Looks like her kid ain't gonna be in this week, either.  Another girl, Jayda, signed up, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of her.  That two more "kicked out of class due to lack of attendance" letters I'll probably have to write.  
Unfortunately, Malik is getting dangerously close to missing out on competing in the Chicago City-Wide Tournament.  He's still not registered for the teen class.  I called his grandfather twice after Thanksgiving last year to give a reminder about the sign-up dates.  I didn't get a response.  I also told Malik several times during the holiday season to remind his grandfather to take care of that.  "I can't remember the park district's website," Malik told me as he stood before me on his cell phone yesterday.  What, kids don't know how to Google?  I'm in my late fifties, and it seems I know how to navigate technology better than most young people.  
The website wouldn't load probably due to connection issues because we were technically in the basement of the building.  Sahia pointed out that people may no longer be able to sign up for boxing online which made sense.  Only so many online slots are open before the in-person registration begins.  "Your grandfather has to come in here and sign you up," I repeated to Malik for the umpteenth time.  There's not a lot of openings left in the teen class.  If his grandfather keeps hesitating, I'm not going to be able to make room in a full class for Malik.  If Malik is not able to re-join the class until the spring session, that will seriously cut down on his training time for the Chicago City-Wide Tournament.
Sahia couldn't stay for the adult class because she had an appointment elsewhere.  However, I was glad that she was able to connect with Donesha, Tony's mom before she left.  Alexis didn't show up again for the adult class, so Donesha was by herself.  But she got a good solid hour of work in.  She also does exercises outside of the gym, and that is very helpful.
Someone called the field house looking for me.  One of the teen girls was sent downstairs by Tina, the gymnastics and dance instructor (and summer camp coordinator) to tell me I had a phone call.  The staff knows that I don't leave the gym during the kids' and teen classes to come upstairs for any reason.   I've ceased making it my problem that they keep forgetting that. "Tell her to take a message," I told the girl.  The girl did not return with the phone message.  Neither did I find a message when I came up to the front desk at the end of my shift.  I have to assume that either the caller didn't want to leave a message or the person who answered the phone didn't bother to take one. Unfortunately, the latter scenario is the probable one.  It's happened before.   

Thursday, January 11, 2018

I Don't Know Folks Like That

I had an "I don't know folks like that" moment today.  When I arrived at the field house, there was a woman waiting to see me about registering for the adult boxing class.  Everything was cool until it was revealed that she had no money to pay the fee.  "I was wondering if I could sign up now and pay later," she told me.  "The registration system doesn't allow that.  Everyone has to pay up front and in full," I informed her.  "The guy at the front desk told me that you could take care of me," she said.
The guy in question was the seasonal sports coach.  He did tell her that I could take care of her but only in terms of giving out information about the class.  The man didn't tell her anything along the lines of "Coach Hillari can give you a hookup", but that's what she heard and expected.  She gave me a line about wanting to learn self-defense, but she admitted she saw the writing on the flier that stated boxing is not a self-defense class.  "Fists are not going to stop bullets or a knife and boxing is not designed to fight off multiple attackers," I let her know.  Another twenty minutes went by with her expecting me to make some way for her to take the class without paying for it first.  I was late starting the kids' class because it took too long for her to figure out that the park district doesn't do installment payments.  
I've seen this movie before in other gyms, and it never ends well.  The coach has a heart for someone who can't afford the fee for whatever reason and lets them into the gym.  Several weeks or even the whole session goes by and no payment is made.  Sometimes the supervisor checks the attendance records and puts the person out of the gym.  Most times, the coach has to keep needling the person about payment until they leave or the coach blows up and runs them out of the place.  Now I might give a break like that to someone who had been in the gym previously because I know they'll make good on paying up.  But I'm not about to take a chance on someone who just walked in off of the street.   

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Surprised On The First Day

Jahnaja showed up to class on the first day of the winter session.  "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" as Gomer Pyle used to say.  So she's back in the teen class for the time being.
Another surprise took place when Ceasar and Richard walked in.  They hadn't been in the gym for about three years.  They've become bigger, especially Richard.  He used to be shorter than both Ceasar and I.  Now we both have to look up to him.  Ceasar had been signed up before class began, but Richard wasn't.  When I sent Richard and his dad upstairs to register, someone at the front desk sent them back to me.  "They said you have to come upstairs and do the registration," Richard said.  "And they know I can't come upstairs when I have a class going on," I answered.  I've been there nearly four years and some staff members still don't understand that.  I told Richard's dad that I would take care of the registration later so he wouldn't have to make a second trip up to the field house.

Melissa is a newcomer to the teen class, and she did very well on the footwork exercises.  She, Ceasar, and Jahnaja all can enter the Golden Gloves.  However, I told them it was an option.  They could wait and enter the City-Wide Tournament in April.

James returned to the youth class, as did Iz and his brother Abrahant.  No adults came in, but I expect Sahia and Chay to return later in the week.  It was a pretty chill day, and it looks as if all three classes may shape up well this session.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Already Kicked Out Of Class

Most everything I needed to get done in the boxing gym at LaFollette Park is done.  This week will be quiet until the winter session begins next week. 
I've already written the withdrawal letter to send to Jahnaja's mother.  I spoke to her mother in mid-December.  "She's busy with stuff because she'll be graduating from high school next year," her mother told me.  I was also told that Jahnaja would call me to confirm whether or not she'll be attending the boxing class.  This is the third time she's signed up for it and not completed it.  She didn't even bother to show up at all the last time she registered.  The new attendance policy states that people can't miss two weeks of class without an explanation.  But based on Jahnaja's track record, I don't have the patience to wait and see what she's going to do.  As far as I'm concerned, she's already kicked out of the teen class.  If she doesn't show up the first day, the letter will be dropped in the mail.  I'm done dealing with no-shows to the class.
My patience has also been low with parents and guardians who won't get it in gear to sign their kids up.  I've told Malik a few times that he needs to send his grandfather in to re-register him for the teen class.  I've left voice messages for his grandfather.  Malik's name has not shown up on the attendance roster yet.  Chasing people to re-sign up for the class is something I seldom did in the past.  This is the year that I stop doing that completely.  I'm also done with frustrating myself about other people's lack of motivation and being proactive.  I'm not interested in excuses as to why people don't do what they need to do at this moment.  
When I last checked the class registrations, numbers of the youth and teen classes were low.  No one has signed up for the adult class at all.  So much for a rush of people signing up as part of New Year's resolutions.  
Looks like I can forget about having anyone in the Chicago Golden Gloves this year.  Mikaela and Noel want to get more park district fights.  Other than the City-Wide Tournament which doesn't take place until early spring, there won't be any other park district fights until late June.  I'm not going to encourage any of the new teens who have signed up for the winter class to compete in the Golden Gloves because they won't have enough time to train for it.  Anyone planning to participate in that should have been training at least three months in advance of the registration dates which are in mid-February.  I've heard people grumbling that the park district bouts are little more than glorified sparring sessions.  But that is not the case at the Golden Gloves where people fight as if their lives depended on it.  
I don't know if I mentioned that two staff members are gone.  Both Leonard and Pam were transferred to other field houses late in December.  I miss them.  Their departures did little to cut down on the constant gossip and backbiting, unfortunately, something both Leonard and I were always irritated about.   At least I can hide down in the gym and have some peace from the whispers as most of the staff seldom come downstairs.