Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Dwindling Situation

Tyvell and Terrence are gone.  Their mom had warned them that not doing their homework, talking back to their teacher, and having bad attitudes at school as well as at home would cost them something.  The boys were also in swimming; she took them out of the class as well.  They join Fabian, who is also no longer in class due to the same issues.  I put up a new sign that I should have created a long time ago which says I will totally back up any parents/guardians who take their kids out of the class for those reasons.  
Iz, who appeared to have grown a foot since I last saw him, showed up to inquire about re-registering for the class.  I told him to tell his parents to sign him up for the summer class since registration for that is happening now.  The last person I let sign up for the current session was Idris, but Idris is out sick for a while.  I don't want to deal with having to train another kid who didn't sign up until the middle of the session.  The fifth week of this session begins next week.
This session has also seen a few kids get kicked out due to attendance issues.  The class is dwindling like it usually does during the mid-point of the session.  But I've had a few kids quickly come along to replace the ones who were ejected. 
Kierra, a new teen girl, had her information put in the system today for both this session and the summer session.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling she may not show up for either time.  Her mom and step dad were more enthusiastic about her joining the class but Kierra appeared to have a different opinion.  Also, I've already been informed that she can't do the full five days.
The adult class is...well, it seems to be all over the place.  Some are often out because of work, some because of other obligations, and others have been missing from class for who knows what reason.  I did appreciate the other day when Ariel brought his sixty-something-year-old dad in with him.  Ariel's dad used to box back in the day, and I could tell by the way he moved that he knew what he was talking about.  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Don't Play The Coach

First, Malik tried to run a game on me.  It's obvious that he attempted to sign himself up for the teen boxing class, but he put his mother's name in the spot where his name should have been.  Today I  discovered that Deantre, or Dexter, as he is known as, gave me a paper registration form with totally false information.  It had been allegedly filled out by his mother.  Her number was disconnected.  The emergency number was for someone who didn't know who Dexter was.  Nor did they have children.
I know people can lie when they sign up online just like Malik did.  But at least Malik had the sense to use his relative's real phone number.  Dexter's little stunt could have had more serious consequences.  For example, if Dexter had been seriously hurt, there would have been no way to reach his parent.  His parent would have been surprised to find their son in a boxing class and they may not have been pleased.  I would have been in trouble, the program would have been in trouble, and the park district would have been in trouble.  I immediately scratched Dexter out of the class.  He'll find out if he ever shows up to the gym again, which I doubt.

Another teen girl who never showed up to class at all this session was kicked out, too.  I had made a courtesy call some time ago and came up with another parent's phone number that was disconnected.  I called the second number and got voice mail.  I'm not sending letters anymore just like I'm not giving out paper registration forms ever again.
A new teen girl, Kierra, will begin class tomorrow, but she may not complete the session.  Her mother explained that she wanted her daughter to participate in some sports because she's never been involved in any sports at all.  If Kierra likes the class, she'll stick with it.  If not, she'll withdraw.  Well, at least I know up front.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday's Children

Sahia, Rachey, Noel, and Mikaela didn't come in, so it was just me and the kids today.  That was the only class that took place; the teen and adult classes were empty.

I couldn't help but notice that the kids were basically following along with everything that Sahia, Noel, and Mikaela had shown them.  Of course, they were also following the training list I have up on the bulletin board.  But it was an easy day for the most part because the kids were eager to do what they needed to do without me having to do much prompting.  All except Damaris, unfortunately.

Sahia and I can't figure out why she can't pick up on learning how to jump rope.  Even the boys who've signed up this time around who did not know how to do that have improved.  Sahia has more patience with Damaris (and indeed with most of the kids) than I do.  Damaris keeps telling her parents and I that she wants to box and likes attending class.  But her constant habit of giving up too easily and lack of focus and motivation tell another story.  I find myself channeling my late mother more often while dealing with her and Yamira, as well (Yamira wasn't in the gym today).  Honestly, I don't like being short with those two.  But between Damaris not wanting to push herself and Yamira doing the same plus always whining for help instead of being proactive, I get driven up a wall.

As usual, I had to a check a few of the kids who are in Coach James' programs.  I walked into the gym to find some of his equipment in the middle of the floor.  "This stuff doesn't belong in my space," I told a kid when as I shoved the items back into Coach James' storage area.  "Coach James put it there," the kid said.  "And Coach James knows I have class in here during this time," I shot back.  Moments later, when my class began, I kept hearing loud yelling and screaming from a few kids who were sitting over in that storage area.  I marched over and before I pulled the crash door shut, I checked them about the noise.  They all started blaming each other as kids tend to do.  "I don't care!  I'm running a class in here and y'all need to respect that," I snapped.  I had no more problems out of them after that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Problem With Some Parents and Guardians

Normally, I don't make more than one courtesy call to boxing program participants to remind them that class has started and they need to come in.  I had a hunch that I should make a second call to one of the kids whom I haven't seen yet in the gym.  Good thing I wasn't using Skype while talking to the parent.  They would have caught all of my sarcastic facial expressions.

I had initially called and left a message two weeks ago when their kid didn't show up for the first week of class.  "I got your voicemail, but I didn't have the phone number to the field house," was the excuse I received.  That information would not have been hard to find either by dialing information or looking it up on the Internet.  Then the parent told me they were not paying attention to the information regarding when the class meets.  "We need something that starts at a different time," they told me.  I had to explain what should have been common sense to that parent -- kids' activities can't start too early nor too late in the day due to school schedules.  They had the impression that the park district can just change class/activity times to suit everybody who can't fit things into their personal schedules.  The parent had decided a couple of weeks ago to take the kid out of the class.  Obviously, informing me of that decision was not a high priority.

Anyone who whose job involves dealing with kids and teens has to also deal with parents and guardians who are not on point.  It makes our jobs difficult.  The negative behaviors and attitudes we encounter with kids and teens are usually because their parents are modeling those traits at home.  We can give out positive messages to youths all day long, but if nothing we say is being reinforced at home, all of the talking is wasted effort.

I'm not a coddler.  I'm not a hand-holder.  I don't like having to repeat myself.  My patience is razor-thin in situations when it's obvious that rules, regulations, and boundaries I've set are being ignored and trampled on.  I don't appreciate when people think they can just disrespect and use me at will.  My usual response to parents who appear to not care about matters concerning their kids is if they don't care, I don't either.  I didn't carry any of those kids for nine months.  I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker.  Nor am I a babysitter.

What I am responsible for is running a gym and coaching to the best of my ability.  I will go the extra mile to assist youths who show me motivation, responsibility, and respect for me and others in the gym.  I have had several kids in the gym who were great.  But even some of the kids who were great to work with had parents and guardians who weren't present and aware.  I welcome working with parents and guardians to help their youths be the best they can be in boxing.  But if the parents and guardians don't want to communicate with me, I can't -- no, I'm not going to chase them.

The other day, a parent came around looking for their kid who has yet to register for the class.  Oh, the kid keeps showing up on-and-off inquiring about what is going on.  But no action has been taken. The family situation is the kid is not living with the parent, but with a guardian who was supposed to register them a couple of weeks ago.  That was the first time I've ever seen the parent at the field house. I explained the situation to the parent.  They had the authority to sign the kid up that day.  But the parent made no effort to do so.  The indifference coming from some parents and guardians is widespread as well as sad.

Unfortunately, the parents and guardians' non-actions force me to crack down harder on the rules the park district has set for the boxing program as well as my own rules for the gym.  I have to come with an attitude of "Don't like what I said?  Well, the door opens both ways," to keep order.  I'm not the only boxing coach in the park district who keeps having to deal with these issues.  Some of the coaches are very direct with parents and guardians about what they won't tolerate.  I try to operate as professionally as possible.  However, my toleration for things keeps inching towards zero as well.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday The 13th Sparring

Every kid in the youth class sparred today.  I had to give all of them credit for getting in there.  However, I also saw there is a lot of work that has to be done.

Tony hadn't sparred in a couple of months.  I believe James, who is no longer in the class, was the last person he sparred with.  However, Tony did well against Fabian.  Fabian kept leaping at Tony and losing his balance.  Tony carefully timed Tony and got in some good punches.

Yamira sparred with Anayah.  Both girls were throwing windmill punches most of the time.  Yamira kept turning her head just as Anayah aimed her punches.  I started yelling at Yamira at the top of my voice.  "Yamira, you're going to end up with a concussion if you keep doing that," I told her later while she stood in the corner between rounds.  Even her dad agreed that she needed to be more focused.  The problem with Yamira is when the other kids are listening to me or Sahia, Mikaela, and Noel, she is off in another part of the gym doing her own thing.

I think Diego was sparring with Anayah, too (I wrote down on a sparring sheet who was doing what).  He quit after the first round.  His mom said that Diego was nervous.  I told him it was okay.

Jamarion, who is the quietest child in the class, did well against Mikaela.  Mikaela and Noel had agreed to spar with a few of the younger kids, and they took it easy on them.  Jamarion looked very confident, even when Mikaela was backing him into corners.

During the teen class, Mareli sparred with Mikaela and did quite well.  She's getting better at her stance and putting her punches out there.  While they were sparring, Mareli's baby sister Ximena kept raising her voice.  "She's saying, 'Don't beat my sister up!'" joked Sahia.

No sparring for the adults, however.  Ariel and Trish were out due to work.  Who knows where Jada was.  Darrien asked if he and Ariel could spar on another day than Friday.  I told him he could.  I also gave him the option of sparring with Trish, but I don't think Trish, who is his girlfriend, would want to do that.  Darrien punches continue to look very good.

I saw in a park district newsletter that the boxing shows would start on July 10th.  In addition to being surprised that the newsletter had anything about boxing, I was skeptical of the date.  I believe that's on a Tuesday.  The boxing shows are usually on Thursdays.  Hopefully, Thomas will send out a schedule soon with the right dates.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tommy Lee Jones' Famous Line

The class for those 12-years-old and under was busy again today.  I'm curious to see how long the pace will keep up.  It's the second week of class.  After this week, people in all of the classes usually start to disappear.  But maybe with the kids that won't happen.  Sahia, Mikaela, and Noel have been working very good with the kids.  The kids appear to like and respect them.
Dexter, who is signed up for the teen class, was a no-show yesterday.  Today, he came strolling in an hour late, brushing his hair like there was no hurry.  His friend, who I think is named Jamil, was with him.  When I pointed out Dexter's tardiness, he came back with, "But I was in a fight!"  I felt like Tommy Lee Jones' character in the movie The Fugitive when he cornered Harrison Ford's character who declared he was innocent of a crime.  "I don't care!' I thought.  I didn't even ask about the fight if indeed one had taken place.  I told Dexter when the teen class begins and that he could not train during the adult class.  Jamil, who claimed he wanted to register for boxing, just stood there and said nothing. I suspected that neither Dexter or his friend was serious about boxing, and it appears that I was right.
I finally went into the system and withdrew Malik's mother's name out of the teen class.  No word from him yet as to whether or not his grandfather will register him for the class again.  That class is slowly filling up.  Perhaps by the time Malik gets it together the class will be full and he'll have to wait until the summer session to join the class again.

Only Darrin and Jada were in the adult class.  Trish had to work, and Ariel may have had a change in his work schedule as well.  Sahia and Rachey couldn't stay for the class because of a previous engagement.  Darrin's punches were looking very solid, and his form was nice.  Jada, like so many of the girls and women who are and have been in the class, has to work on being a little more aggressive when it comes to punching.
I haven't received any more mouthpieces -- or any other equipment, for that matter.  I may not have enough mouthpieces to go around on Friday.  Some kids may have to purchase theirs which means they won't be able to spar that day.  Despite the fact that I've informed people that the number of free mouthpieces may be limited at times, to hardly have any makes me and the program look bad.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

My Suspicion Continues

I just happened to be up at the front desk counter when Malik popped in.  "Just the person I wanted to see.  What is your mother's name?" I asked.  He told me, and then I said, "Why is her name listed as being registered for the teen boxing class?  She wasn't happy when she learned that."  "Uh, my grandfather probably entered her name in by mistake," Malik said.
I ain't buying it.  Last session, Malik's grandfather's name was listed as a registrant in the teen class.  Figuring that it was an honest mistake, I allowed Malik into the class.  I have doubts that his grandfather would have a second mistake in that manner.  Malik told me, "I'll be in the class this time."  "You're not in the class.  Your mother is registered in the class.  Until your name appears on the attendance sheets, Malik, you are not in the class.  Your grandfather has to come in and re-do the registration," I responded.  Malik mumbled, "Okay" and scurried away.  Something about that situation still smells.
Acting on a suggestion from Sahia I presented a contest to the kids 12-years-old and under.  The boy and girl who has the highest attendance for the session will get prizes.  The boy will get a jump rope and the girl will get hand wraps.  I heard mumblings from the kids who don't show up every day.  There were a few who should have shown up today, but they were absent with no explanation.  So far, Jamarion is the leader when it comes to attendance.

Noel saved me from a little frustration when I asked him to show Yamira and Damaris how to jump rope.  It is rare that I come across girls who don't know how to do that.  Yamira was jumping too high in the air.  Damaris was circling her arms to turn the rope instead of her wrist, and she wasn't turning the rope fast enough.  "It's not rocket science," I finally grumbled before asking Noel to help out.  The girls still weren't listening much to Noel nor watching him as he showed them the proper technique.  Yamira kept complaining about everything and being happy when the rounds were over.  Damaris kept whining about what she couldn't do.  I kept grumbling at them, ending with, "Now I'm sounding like my mother talking to you two."
Davonte (using Dexter as his nickname) showed up for the teen class a little too early, but it was cool. He seems eager to learn.  Noel and Mikaela helped him learn the punches.
It had been a good week, with the kids and teen classes having the most action.  I would like to see that pace continue for the entire 10 weeks.  

Friday, April 06, 2018

Signs and Possible Forgery

I made courtesy calls to a few teens who still haven't shown up for the spring session.  However, one of the people I called was not a teen.  "You're asking to speak to my parents?  Really?  Are you serious?" they told me.  Turns out it was the 30-year-old mom of Malik.  She had a major attitude, and I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  It appears that Malik may have attempted to sign himself up for the boxing class.  But he put his mother's name in the spot where his name should have been.
If attempted forgery was the case here -- and I hope for Malik's sake it was not -- then he and I are going to an even more unpleasant conversation than the one I had with his mother.  I'm always telling youths that they can't put their John Hancock on nothing unless they are 18 years old.  Their parents and/or guardians have to give permission for them to do any activity at the park district.  Technically, Malik is still not registered for the class.

Having been long tired of the summer camp kids trashing my gym as well as Tina and the seasonal summer camp staff not doing anything to prevent it, I made some new signs.  The signs clearly state what the summer camp kids and seasonal summer camp staff are NOT to do in the gym.  The signs have gone up now so people can read and act accordingly before summer gets here.  Touching the equipment, climbing into the boxing ring, eating and drinking on the boxing ring, tampering with bulletin boards and signs, not cleaning up after themselves -- all are forbidden to do.  I ended the sign with "Have a problem with these rules?  See me."  I don't allow my fighters to disrespect and disrupt the spaces and classes/activities in the building that staff members run.  However, the same respect is not given to me. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Where The Boys Are...Not

Noel is the only guy signed up in the teens' class (the kid from the North Lawndale Boxing League that Thomas signed up only so they could compete in the City-Wide Tournament doesn't count to me).  It has been pointed out to me several times that Noel needs to spar with more guys.  But it is very difficult to get teen boys to sign up for boxing.  Many teen boys at the field house are always asking me about signing up, but seldom is there any follow through.

I appreciate Noel because he works hard when he is in the gym.  Noel is extremely helpful towards the other participants in the program as well.  I don't have patience for most of the other teen boys who just want to be poseurs who just want to put gloves on and jump around, not train properly nor regularly, and ignore my instructions.  Walz, who helps with the basketball program and who runs the teen fitness program, keeps sending those types of boys to me to inquire about the program.  Walz's intent is to help me out; however, I don't think he recognizes when the teen boys are peddling BS.  I can see it from miles away.  I shut it down by clearly stating my expectations of people in the program.

Some of the parents/guardians are going to keep being disappointed, and perhaps, irritated, because they don't keep up with what goes on at the field house.  One of them who already has a kid in the 12-years-and-younger class attempted to sign up a second child of theirs yesterday.  "The class is full," I informed them.  They noticed that only four of the kids showed up to that class which was behind them asking how many can the class take (12 participants are allowed in each of the three classes).  I've had parents/guardians thinking I should add their kid to the attendance roster based on how many kids they saw in class on a particular day.  It doesn't work like that.

I continue to scratch my head about why parents/guardians don't sign all of their eligible kids up at one time.  Maybe they're waiting to see if the first kid actually likes the class.  A lot of parents/guardians operate on a "we'll wait and see" approach and don't seem to understand that a class that's free for youths, like boxing, will probably fill up fast.  The same ones don't get that I can't and won't make room in a class that is already filled to capacity.  Regardless of the fact that I have Sahia as a volunteer, the both of us need to make sure that we're giving all of the participants equal time as much as possible.  That can't be done in an overcrowded class.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

First Day Ups and Downs

I pulled out the Sugar Ray Leonard and Laila Ali boxing workout DVD I have.  I hadn't used it in awhile, and I forgot that it is a tough workout but a good one.  I've been exercising several days a week at home since the beginning of the year.  I could work out at the gym, but circumstances don't always allow for that.
For example, the first day of the spring session yesterday was busy.  But it was not well populated as I predicted.  It was raining while I was driving to work; it was a given that most would not show up due to weather conditions.  Four of the twelve kids registered for the 12 and under class showed up, including little Diego, whose sister Mareli is in the teen class.  I really like Diego.  He's a cute kid and is very respectful.  More parents than usual came to that class.  Mareli and Diego's parents, Yamina's mom, Jameiron's parents, and Tony's mom.  I was on my feet for most of the time as I gave the parents chairs to sit and observe.
Sahia and Noel were extremely helpful when it came to the kids.  I was so appreciative that they were there (Rachey had another engagement, and Mikela was recovering from a dental procedure).  Sahia thought she saw Malik in the building.  "He was here a moment ago asking about when the City-Wide Tournament was going to take place," I responded.  As usual, Malik was a day late and a dollar short.  I fail to understand why he was asking about it when I had made it clear Malik was not going to be in the tournament -- which was last week -- due to not training for it.  Once again, Malik gave no indication whether his grandfather was going to sign him up again for the teen class.
I was also asked about where were the other kids.  When I gave a response along the lines of, "I have no idea", Sahia asked, "Did you call them?"  "I do one courtesy call at the beginning of the session, but that's it," I answered.  "Well, something could be going on at home," she said.  Yes, something could and sometimes, it is.  I also know that I can't spend 20 to 30 minutes every day on the phone asking where people are.  The youths tend to make quick decisions about whether or not they want to continue with the class.  I'm not going to chase people who appear to be uninterested.  I announced to the class that there is an attendance policy, and they need to adhere to it.

An adult, Jada, showed up in the middle of the class wanting to register.  I was irritated as once again, staff upstairs failed to recognize that I was in the middle of a class, and on the first day of the session at that.  Luckily, I remembered that Sahia is now a volunteer, so I took Jada back upstairs.  However, she only had cash, and Steve had left for the day so I couldn't put it in the safe.  She said she would create an account with the park district to register and use her debit card, which she had left at home.  If that didn't work, I told her to come to the field house earlier so I could properly deal with the cash, if necessary.  Later, I told Coach James and Walz, "For the umpteenth time, please don't send people to me when I'm in the middle of a class."  James said something about staff not being able to register people for boxing without my approval (letting me know that perhaps he was the one who sent Jada downstairs).  "You can put them in the system, and enter them in the class later," he said.  I've already had at least one adult some time ago who expected me to put her in the system so she could show up for class and maybe pay later.  I don't think so.  Besides, people register online all the time for that class, despite it being advertised that they should talk to me first.  Some staff has also registered people for boxing whether or not I was on the premises to give permission.  I was ticked, but I didn't feel like continuing to argue.  Nor did I bother to say that I have a volunteer in the gym now so I can come upstairs to register people if needed.  But I'd rather not disrupt coaching classes to do that even with a volunteer present.
Darren, who is an accountant, was the only one who showed up for the adult class.  Sahia had to leave early, and Doneisha said she would sign up later.  I told Darren, "Math was the subject that always brought my report cards down in school.  I wish I had a skill for numbers; I still struggle with them." He chuckled at that.  Darren didn't stay the full time, but he did get a good workout in.  

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Expectations Of The Usual

Today is the first day of the spring session at the boxing gym.  Unfortunately, my expectations are low.  First of all, I don't feel like dealing with a crowd of kids today.  I've mentioned before that I'm part of the childfree community, so my feelings about kids ebbs and flows.  According to the attendance roster, the class for those who are 12 and under is currently full.  How many actually show up today remains to be seen.

I already know that two in that group -- Damaris and Diego -- can't do the five days a week.  Probably someone else in that age range is going to tell me after the fact that they can't train every day, either.  I'll inform them that I will not put anyone in a fight who is not training regularly, and both the kids and the parents will have an issue with that.  Let two weeks or less go by, and most kids will start skipping days with no word to me as to why.  That is one of the reasons why I will never again run a class for kids that is 90 minutes long.  The attention span is just not there.

To my knowledge, the teen class has never been full on the first day of any session.  There are currently five teens registered, and one of them is a member of the North Lawndale Boxing League who "represented" LaFollette in the recent City-Wide Boxing Tournament.  I don't expect that teen to ever show up.  The first chance I get, I'm withdrawing them out of the class.  If the class does fill up, that usually doesn't happen until the fifth or sixth week.  Even then, most who act like they are so interested to be there will stop showing up not long after they register.  I've already given out --against my better judgment -- paper registration forms to two teen boys who seem to more interested in posing as boxers than actually being boxers.  I haven't received the forms back.

Only one person, the first male I've had in there for awhile, is registered so far for the adult class.  Sahia is now a park district volunteer, so the fee is waived for her.  However, her daughter Rachey is not officially registered yet.  Doneisha's son Tony is in the kids' class, but she hasn't re-registered herself for the adult class.  I don't expect to see Misty again; she showed up very late in the winter session, and only one time.  She lives closer to Taylor Park, which is on the south side.  LaFollette Park is a long way to travel for a class.  I'll be surprised if that class becomes even half-full.  Despite advertisements and marketing on my part, most adults still aren't aware there is a boxing class for them.  Some do but expect to train for free, and get an attitude when they find out that isn't allowed.  
The only thing I can do at the point is to keep clamping down on rules and adding new ones as situations present themselves.  Marty, the coach at Simons Park, told me that the boxing program goes up and down.  "Some seasons you get a good group of people, and other seasons the coach is lucky to get one or two who are serious," he said.