Monday, February 26, 2018

Chances Going Down Or Gone

Sahia, Richey, Noel, and Mikaela are fine.  They just took an extended vacation.  They should be back in the gym this week.  But I can't guarantee that of everyone else who has been missing for past month.  
Looks like I'm going to keep the gym open during the break between the winter and spring session since the City-Wide Boxing Tournament will take place during that time.  But I'm not going to allow everyone to register for it.  Malik is dangerously close to being denied a chance to compete.  He'll have to show up every day from this point on in order to get a spot.  Iz and Abrahant's chances are already gone because of their constant absences which they had been warned about many times.  Based on Kaylib's lack of urgency to do what he had to do to enter the Chicago Golden Gloves, I'm going to demand that he sit out the City-Wide as well.  That's if Kaylib ever shows up to the gym again.
James won't be a factor, either.  I talked to his parents about his statement to me about not liking any sport.  His parents are dismayed, but they have known that about their son for some time.  They also aren't happy about James only wanting to play video games constantly.  His father told me that they are keeping James out of the gym for awhile until his attitude changes.  His parents aren't the first ones to complain about their kids' obsession with video games as opposed to participating in more physical play and activity.  What I'm not understanding is why don't they just take the games away from their kids?  Different parenting styles than from what I grew up under, I'm guessing.  My parents may not have brought the video games from the jump.  Since playing the games uses electricity, my mother, in particular, would not have allowed my younger siblings and me to play them often.  If we kept playing them obsessively, the games and consoles would either have been locked up, sold back to the game store, or thrown out.  

Friday, February 23, 2018


James confessed to me that he doesn't care for sports.  I had long suspected that James' interest in boxing wasn't high.  Now I know the lack of interest extends to all sports.  James is not that athletically inclined.  Most of his cousins are athletic, and his half-sister plays sports.  James' dad played sports when he was young so the expectation is that James must play sports, too.  I wondering if I should tell James' dad about his son's feelings and how to tell him if I do.  I'd rather not see any youth being forced to participate in an activity they don't enjoy.
Unfortunately, society operates on gender stereotypes that lead to situations like this one.  I assured James that his non-interest in sports is fine.  However, there are people who criticize and make fun of males who don't play sports nor are rabid fans.  I would not be surprised if James has already been bullied because of that type of thinking.  Some will question a boy or a man's maleness because of that which is totally wrong.  Please. . .I know of straight men who think sports are a waste of time and gay men who have season tickets to major sports games.  
Thomas sent out the schedule for the Chicago City-Wide Boxing tournament and The Battle of the Badges tournament.  Youth amateur boxing matches do take place at The Battle of the Badges before the regular bouts between the cops and the firefighters.  Youths can only sign up for that the day that tournament takes place as I understand it.  But Thomas has scheduled several days for the City-Wide registration.  

Noel and Mikaela told me they wanted to participate in the City-Wide.  I haven't seen them for days, and it continues to worry me.  Malik hasn't been training regularly for weeks.  I've grown tired of Malik popping into the gym to tell me why he can't come to the gym and/or why he wasn't in the gym that day.  I'm only going to participate in the City-Wide registration for one day.  I can't afford to close down the gym for several days in a row to accommodate every one's personal schedules.  If people can't make it on the one day I can go up to Margate Park for the registration, then they won't be in that tournament.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Missing and Run Down

The registration for the Chicago Golden Gloves is this weekend and on Monday, but I won't be there -- again.  Kaylib was the only person in the teen boxing class who was eager to enter that competition.  However, Kaylib disappeared from the gym and didn't bother to tell me about a hand injury.  I had to call his house to learn about that.  At this point, it's probably safe to assume that Kaylib won't return to class, either.
James keeps pointing out that several of the kids in the 12-years-old-and-under boxing class keep being absent.  Maybe James should worry more about his weight.  I keep finding candy and pastry wrappers in the boys' washroom.  James has a habit of going into the last stall in there and staying for a long period of time.  Initially, I thought James was playing video games on his phone.  As a courtesy to ReRe, the attendant who normally cleans the washrooms down in the gym, I started checking them before I locked up at the end of the day.  One of the last times James hid in the washroom for an inappropriate amount of time, I yelled, "You're not eating in there, are you?"  "No," James replied in a guilty manner.  The very next time I checked the room, I found a candy wrapper stuck in the hand towel dispenser.  A hand dryer has replaced the towel dispenser, but maintenance never removed the dispenser.  I guess James thought, "I'm gonna be slick this time."  Not quite slick enough.
Iz and Abrahant have been gone for over two weeks.  I'm beginning to believe they have dropped out of the class.  They have never put in a full workout since they've been in the class.  They're always late, even during the summer months.  Twenty minutes is about all they usually get done.  Maybe they came to the realization that a short training time wasn't enough.  I am also aware there was some disappointment when I cut down sparring from two days a week to once a week.
I have to give Damaris credit for showing up the two days of the week that she's able to do.  But just like they did three years ago, DeShawn and his cousin Felicia, who can only show up one day a week, have basically stopped doing that (along with their cousin Armani).  Jayda has continued her pattern of not showing up to class just like she did two years ago after only attending a few times.  Angelo, who was my best scrapper in the program this season, has vanished, too.  I called his home to find out what happened, got the voice mail, and never heard back.  
Attendance in the teen class is down, too.  Malik keeps running in every other day to either tell me he can't come to class or why he wasn't in class.  As I predicted, Janaja has become a no-show once again like she was the last two times she registered for the class.  Ceasar comes in on and off, but his brother Richard keeps missing days.  Ceasar's friends Melissa and Ximena have a lot of absences, too.  
The adult class has been very quiet as none of them have been in class for some time. But then, a lot of people have been out ill due to the flu that has been coming down heavily this season.  I've been feeling run down lately, but I haven't caught what everyone else has caught yet.  I hope I don't.  

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Boxing and Bureaucracy Don't Mix

Donesha didn't make it to the meeting, but Sahia met with me, Thomas, and Steve about the fundraiser.  There isn't going to be a fundraiser this month as planned.  Apparently, there are many steps (read: hoops) that have to be gone through in order to have one approved.  Frankly, I'm not much in the mood for navigating bureaucratic mazes.
If I had discretionary income to play with, I'd buy what I wanted to place in the gym and just turn in the receipts afterward.  But the fundraiser wasn't only about equipment.  Not all parents and guardians are just dumping kids and teens off in my class because they don't want to be bothered with them for an hour.  Some parents and guardians are appreciative that boxing is free because they want their youths involved in something that is positive that won't strain their budgets.  However, there isn't money in their houses to pay for extras the youths may want like boxing tops and trunks, extra mouthpieces, and boxing shoes.  There have been youths who haven't been able to attend boxing shows and tournaments because of transportation issues.  Some have dropped out of the class because of that.  Those are some of the reasons why the program hasn't grown much over the nearly four years I've been running it.  Steve keeps telling me that having more kids in the class would be justification for me getting extra resources.  But it is what the park district does NOT provide and apparently can't provide which adds to the frustrations and challenges I have to face in the gym.
Teens have come to me asking about entering the Chicago Golden Gloves.  When I tell them they have to pay for a license, plus pay a registration fee on top of that, I notice the shift in their enthusiasm.  If I could afford to come out of my own pocket to make sure they were able to compete, I'd pay for it.  But on my part-time salary, I can't, so I just have to watch potential champions slip away.  The sport can show youths there is a world of other opportunities outside of the 12-to-14 block neighborhoods they live in, but if extra assistance is not available to help them, that's an issue.  
For every enthusiastic kid I encounter, I have to contend with several who don't have clear reasons why they want to be in my gym.  Yesterday, three teenage girls plopped themselves down on the equipment table during the 12-years-old and younger class.  The girls took too long to answer when I asked them why they were in the gym, so I said in a clipped manner, "This is not a hangout spot."  Finally, the ringleader told me that someone sitting up at the front desk sent them downstairs for me to sign them up for the class.  I suspect that some recreation leaders and instructors play fast and loose with the registration process.  I don't.  I told the girls their parents had to give permission for them to be in the class or they were not going to be in it.  Sahia, who appears to have more patience with youths than I ever will, asked the ringleader why she wanted to take up boxing.  The girl shrugged her shoulders and said, "I just want to be in it."  That wasn't a good enough answer for me.  The other two didn't state their reasons at all.  Then the ringleader indicated she and her crew didn't want to spar or compete.  I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes as I explained I'm not going to teach self-defense.