Sunday, July 29, 2018

Henry Shows His Skills

Seward Park's boxing show is coming up this week.  I expect Damaris to do what she usually does -- back out of it at the last minute.  I have high hopes for Henry and his brother David, however.  They have been working hard.  I think the both of them will be able to get fights at Seward.

Sahia keeps asking about Lael and Arrav's chances at getting fights.  The reality is, they don't have any.  I'm not backing down on the "train five days a week or no fights" rule.  Lael is only good for showing up one to three days out of the week.  Recently, I found out the boy shouldn't have been allowed in the class due to his age. I overheard him tell someone, "I'm seven years old."  The youngest participants are supposed to be eight years old.  Lael's mom signed him up online.  If had signed him up in person, Lael would have had to wait until the fall when his birthday takes place to be in the class.  That is another reason why parents and guardians are supposed to talk to me before registering their kids.

Arrav told me he couldn't come to class two days of the week, and he actually ended up missing three days.  Usually, the boy only shows up at the gym once a week.  I understand Arrav is signed up for several other activities going on at the same time.  Youths who are picking and choosing what days they can come to the gym will never train enough to my satisfaction to be allowed to get fights.

Henry sparred with Damaris.  Her father insisted that she wear a chest protector before sparring.  I didn't think she really needed it, but it brought out for her to wear.  Henry did hit her in the chest a few times.  Damaris kept pawing at him, something both Sahia and I have told her to get out of the habit of doing for a few months now.  She also had her hands down.  Each time Henry punched her in the face, I pointed it out to her.  Henry tagged her five times. 

At the end of class, Sahia and I presented Henry with a certificate and trophy for outstanding sparring.  Henry's dad, Julio, was extremely happy and proud of his son.  Sahia and I felt good about being able to acknowledge Henry's hard work. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

I Don't Take Orders

The summer day camp coordinator got angry with me yesterday because I locked the door to the gym.  Let me back up.  Just about every day I get to work, the door to the gym is open.  Yesterday, both the door next to the stairwell leading downstairs and the main gym doors were open.  Summer camp was over for the day, yet the camp coordinator felt they should be able to keep marching kids through the area. 

I lock the doors behind me when I get in.  Class begins a half-hour after I get there, and I use that time to set the gym up.  Every day, I set out gloves, the ring timer, the clock, jump ropes, medicine balls, the balance board, the footwork cones, and water bottles for the participants to use.  I don't need to be distracted by random youths and adults roaming into the gym during that time.  I don't open the doors again until five or ten minutes before class begins. 

"Why did you do that?" she demanded when I opened the door after I heard her and several kids banging on it.  She doesn't look anything like my mother when she was alive, and even less so now that Ma is deceased.  I ignored her.  "I know you heard me when I told you to leave the door open!" she snapped.  She may have mumbled something to me in passing when I first got there, but remember folks, I'm an old woman.  I don't hear so well sometimes.  Maybe being post-menopausal has something to do with that.  At any rate, I don't take orders from people who don't sign my paychecks.  I especially didn't feel the need to respond to her since she believes I'm a monster towards kids simply because I never gave birth to any.

"I'm tired of this!" I heard her grumbling as I continued to go about doing my job.  Maybe she complained to our supervisor about me -- again.  Whatever.  My reaction to her foul attitude reminded me of a statement one of those TV judges made to a youth standing in their courtroom: "I don't argue with children." 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Questions That Make Me Shake My Head

1.  Do people hit each other for real?
People who ask me this question when inquiring about signing up for the boxing class are usually people whom I do NOT want in the class.  It indicates an extreme misunderstanding of the sport in general.  Even those who aren't major fans of the sport have a basic idea of what goes on in it and have probably seen clips of boxing matches.  I know people have heard of fighters being injured, so I don't get why anyone would believe the punches thrown aren't real. 

2.  Are we sparring today?
It's a legitimate question only if there are several others on the premises.  The question doesn't sound intelligent when asked by someone who happens to be the only person who showed up that day. 

3.  Is it okay if I or my kid can't make it to the gym every day? 
Yes, but people aren't going to be allowed to participate in boxing competitions if they don't train every day the gym is open.  Please, I might not allow people to spar depending on their attendance. 

4.  Can I just come in and hit the bags and get in the ring?
No.  I make some exceptions for those who I know are training at other park district gyms and professional boxers that come through from time to time.  Otherwise, both youths and adults need to be officially signed up for the class.

5.  I have one kid in the class, but could you show my other kid(s) who aren't in the class a few moves?
No.  The main reason I get asked that is because the siblings, cousins, whoever of the kid who is already in the class are too young to register for the boxing class.  The second reason is that the parent or guardian has babysitting issues.  They figure since the other kids are there, why not let them join in? 

6.  Do the times of the boxing classes change each session?
 It's not a college course that is offered at different times each quarter or semester.  The youth boxing classes, like other youth activities at the park district, are designed to catch youths as they are coming out of school.  And no, the days and times the class meets is not going to change during summer just because school is out. 

7.  Can I or my kid come in and work out during an earlier or later class?
No.  The classes are divided by ages for a reason.  An eight-year-old can't spar with a 15-year-old.  I'm not putting a 15-year-old in the ring to spar with a 35-year-old adult.  I don't want to deal with parents who are upset because teenagers and/or adults are in the gym with their grade-school age kids.  Most adults don't want kids underfoot while they're trying to exercise.

8.  Can I or my kid sign up even though physical and/or mental issues are present?
Depends on what those issues are.  But common sense should have dictated that a check-up should have been done long before showing up to register for the class.  Even if I'm not told about those issues and people sign up anyway, I will eventually figure out what's up.  When I do, depending on the situation, I may take people out of the class. 

9.  I've got a couple of youths who are arguing with each other.  Can they put on the gloves, get in the ring, and duke it out?
No, no, and no.  Usually, the youths in question aren't signed up for the program.  The youths should be shown there are other ways to solve their differences than putting their hands on each other.  If they are determined to fight anyway, they'll do it elsewhere but not in my gym.  The equipment in the gym is NOT to be used for purposes other than what is intended.  I'm not about to risk losing my job because of allowing any and everybody to walk up in the gym and do whatever they want. 

10.  Can I just pay you so you can let me train in the gym?
This is asked of me by adults who don't want to officially register for whatever reason, and who don't want to pay the full fee for the class.  I get a check from the park district every two weeks for my services.  I can't accept money under the table from people who don't want to follow rules and procedures.  The park district does not run open gyms nor accepts day fees. 

11.  Can I bring my friends here to train?
Another question that comes mostly from adults looking to give their buddies a hookup.  Yeah, their friends are welcomed -- as long as they understand they have to pay for the class.  And even though the youth classes are free, everyone in those classes has to be accounted for on my attendance rosters.

12.  Seriously -- you're the boxing coach?
Yeah, women do box, act as judges, referee, and coach.  If people have a problem with me because of my gender, they are free to go to other gyms.  I don't have time to deal with sexism. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"It's An Easy Money Fight!"

The photo above is of Marty (on the right), the coach at Simons Park, and one of his fighters who was successful in winning a trophy at the Garfield Park boxing show.

George, the coach at Garfield, has been there for 28 years. I heard George tell one of his fighters in-between rounds, "It's an easy money fight!  Just keep going for his head and body!"  George was telling him right.  The kid's opponent was easy pickings.

I was judging the fights.  For the first time in my memory, all of the fighters I had listed on the cards to win did..  There were nine fights, and they went rather quickly.  One fight looked in danger of being stopped when one of the fighters, who was from Humboldt Park, told the referee that it felt like his shoulder had come out of the socket.  The EMT people on hand checked it out, and it was fine.  The fight continued, and the guy from Humboldt won.

Damaris showed up and so did Anayah but neither of them opted to fight.  Damaris' mother told me yesterday that her daughter "wasn't sure" if she wanted to fight.  Damaris didn't bother to tell me anything this time, after having already backed out of fighting at the Humboldt and LaFollette shows.  A week or so ago, Damaris had told Sahia that she wanted to be "worked harder" in the gym in order to be prepared for the Garfield Park show.  But once again, that girl's words didn't match her actions.  While driving home last night, I noticed that I hadn't packed my coach's bag for today's show.  It was just as well.

All of the girls in the youth class appear to have no further interest in competing.  I'll have to pin my hopes on Henry and his brother David.  Their father inquired about them participating in Garfield's show, but the boys had signed up for the class less than two weeks before.  They will be better prepared for the Seward Park show which takes place in early August.  I might consider Aarav for that show, too, despite the fact that Aarav only comes to class once a week.  Aarav was looking sharp when I put him in to spar last week against David.

Summer rolls along.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Parents Don't Run Programs

"The parents do not run these programs."  That statement has been repeated frequently to me over the past several weeks.

Recently, a parent told me they don't want their kid participating in any boxing shows for at least a year.  They feel their kid needs to train more. Their kid has been in the program for several months and has a good presence.  They're more than ready to take on a boxing match.  Languishing in the gym for several more months without being able to test their skills out, especially when other kids are competing, is not a good idea.  There are already signs that the kid is getting bored and treating their time in the gym as a time for socializing instead of training.

There is another kid in the class who has been there almost a year and has yet to participate in a boxing show.  Their parent has also made similar statements about not wanting their kid to be in fights until they've trained for months.  That parent also has issues about other kids interacting with their kid.  But I'm not running a private boxing gym and working with highly paid fighters who have the luxury of picking and choosing whom they will fight with and when.  I'm dealing with a city-run operation that puts heavy emphasis on the quantity of youths in the class and expects maximum participation.

There have been problems with people not attending the gym on Saturday, which is the day sparring takes place.  I changed sparring to that day partially based on some parents telling me that it was easier for them to come to the gym to watch their kids on that day.  Now I'm hearing Saturday is a problem because the parents -- not the kids -- have scheduled other things to do on that day. It was suggested to me to switch sparring back to a weekday, if only temporarily, to give at least one of the kids who has been skipping Saturdays a chance to spar.  I seriously doubt I'm going to do that because there are other kids can be present on that day and whose parents have an interest in making sure they are in the gym.

Over the past four years, I have gained a good idea of what works for the boxing program in general.  I do know that the program -- or any other park district program -- can't run properly if schedules and lesson plans are constantly being changed around based on the personal calendars of the participants. I've come to the point where I have just about set the boxing gym schedule in stone.  I'm not going to make anymore concessions to people who don't want to abide by it.