Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Vibe at Eckhart Park

There wasn't a full moon out, so I don't understand why the boxing show at Eckhart Park seemed a little off.  Not many of the gyms showed up, but some of the ones that did had a good number of fighters there.  However, only seven fights were made because there weren't enough good matches to be made among the ones in attendance. 

Anton, one of the guys who help out Thomas, the boxing program coordinator, wondered out loud if any girls were participating.  George, the coach at Garfield, said, "I don't mess around with girls.  Ain't no money in that.  Right, Hillari?"  Unfortunately, I had to agree.  Despite the fact, there are plenty of women who box, and some superstars like Claressa Shields, for example, have risen up, professional women's boxing still doesn't have the earning power.  Lately, I haven't noticed many girls or women appearing in the amateur shows.

A fight between boys from Portage Park and Ogden Park was going along at a fast pace for two rounds.  The boy from Portage Park was being overwhelmed by the boy from Ogden Park.  A few seconds into the third and final round, the Ogden Park fighter quit.  The reason?  "I'm tired," the boy told the referee.  Kenny, the coach at Ogden, didn't look pleased.  I personally don't believe in getting on kids for losing fights or having fights stopped on them.  But if that was my fighter, I would have made an exception in that case.  If the boy had pushed through to the end, he probably would have won.

George loudly let his displeasure be known when one of his fighters didn't win their match.  Alan, Keith, and I were the judges.  "I don't know what fight the judges were watching!  The judges were blind!" George grumbled.  None of us responded to his rantings.  I just shook my head. 

A couple of fighters waited until the last minute to get suited up then took their time about getting to the ring.  I wondered: are they here to fight or not?  The very last fight of the night was an exhibition match, and the bell didn't ring to signal the end of the last round. 

I had no fighters at the show.  When construction work began abruptly at La Follette, the work cheated the youths out of the last two weeks of the summer session.  Everyone took off, and I wasn't successful in pulling people back to participate in the boxing shows that have taken place during the current session break.  The boxing shows are taking a week off, then the first show in September will be at Portage Park.  But if construction delays the opening of the gym for the fall session, I won't have anyone at that show. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

I Need A Break From People

I had to remind myself that even if the installation of windows at the field house wasn't going on, the boxing gym would have been closed anyway for the next few weeks.  I don't keep it open during the breaks in between sessions.

When I first began working at La Follette Park, I tried to follow Steve, and later, Alan's lead of keeping the gym open during the session breaks.  I suspect most of the other Chicago Park District boxing coaches keep their gyms open as well.  But quickly I learned that those who don't show up with consistency during the regular session were not suddenly going to become considerate enough to show up during the breaks.  It doesn't matter even if boxing shows are going on during the breaks; people vacate the gym and don't keep up with what is going on top of that.  I need to take care of the paperwork as well as clean the equipment, so I close the doors.

Another important reason I need to close the gym is I need a break from people.  I've never hidden the fact that unlike most, I don't automatically go ga-ga over every youth I encounter.  I wasn't born with a high maternal instinct.  If I've gone through a session that was overly problematic because of having to deal with attitude and behavioral problems and other issues out of one or more kids, I need to be able to distance myself from that during the breaks.

Also to preserve my sanity, I need to be away from some parents, guardians, and those who sign up for the adult class who do things that make my job harder than it needs to be on any given day.  Some are constantly trying to bend the boxing program to suit them regardless of the established rules and regulations and the fact there are other people in the gym.

As a part-time employee, I don't get vacation days.  I have to fit in a respite where I can, and shutting the gym down during the breaks is how I have to do that.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hustling At Harrison

I had reminded Henry and David's dad about the boxing show at Harrison Park some time ago.  Unfortunately, the boys were no-shows, and there were kids there with whom they could have had a fight.  Having La Follette's gym being shut prematurely due to window installation plus the fact that we're now on a break until the fall session begins has made it difficult to keep in touch with people about the ongoing boxing shows.  I was judging fights again as I had no fighters present.

I noticed there is construction going on at Harrison Park as well.  I felt their pain.  There was a good turnout for the boxing show, however.  There were 12 fights instead of the usual ten, but the action went quickly.  The fights took place in a basketball gym inside the field house.  Usually, that show is held on the outside, but the construction I saw may have been the cause for the change in location. 

During one of the earlier fights of the evening, I thought both boys did a great job.  But one boy did a little bit more than the other one, so he won the fight.  The boy who didn't win took his trophy and no sooner than he stepped out of the ring, the boy was blubbering.  I always feel bad when I see that.  Sometimes when I see kids crying because they lost, I feel like crying with them.  I looked for that boy later to give him some encouragement but he must have left the park quickly.

Solomon, who fights out of Loyola Park, won his fight against a boy from Garfield Park, which was no easy feat.  The fighter from Garfield Park won the first round against Solomon, popping him with several punches.  During the next two rounds, Solomon carefully watched the other guy and picked his shots.

While sitting at one of the judges' tables, I imagined what it would have been like if my late younger sister was sitting next to me.  I've mentioned before that while she liked the ideas of beating on people, she wasn't crazy about me being involved in the sport.  She might have enjoyed watching the action close up like that, however.  Then I imagined my late mother sitting next to me at the table.  She wasn't supportive of me fighting.  Ma probably would have criticized everything that went on during the show, despite the fact that she had an appreciation for the sport. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Usual Sign Ups

So far, the upcoming fall boxing class session is populated with the usual faces: Henry and David, Kayla, Anayah, and Damaris.  The teen and adult classes are empty at the moment, and I expect them to stay that way until right before the session begins or until shortly after the session begins.  The people in the neighborhood that surrounds La Follette are notoriously slow about signing up for anything that goes on at the field house. 

The one camp counselor whom I had a run-in with earlier in the season was up at the front desk yesterday when a call came in for me.  She rudely announced to me that I had one, laying the receiver down on the counter instead of handing it to me.  I guess she's still angry because she failed to get me in trouble with the supervisor.  I ignored her attitude.  The call was from Anayah's mom who was having a hard time coming in to re-register her daughter.  Since Anayah is already in the computer system, I told her mom that I would take care of it.  Right after that call ended, Damaris showed up in-person with her mom and little sister to register. 

Malik has been sniffling around as of late asking about re-registering for the teen boxing class.  Frankly, I'm not expecting that to happen.  Malik has some interest, but like too many of the youths associated with the boxing program in the past, they're dealing with too many distractions.  However, I'd be a little bit more accommodating about allowing Malik back in than I would Dexter.  Dexter appears to have given up on trying to run game on both myself and Sahia.  I hope it stays that way.  There are youths whom I never want to see in my gym again. 

Thankfully, today is the last day of the extended summer camp.  I doubt that program was able to tear up my gym over the last few weeks due to the fact that new window installation has been going on.  But I wouldn't be surprised if, despite all the "danger - construction" signs, and notices about asbestos being present that the summer camp coordinator and camp counselors were still distributing lunches and snacks to the kids from down there.

Once again, I found the equipment room open the other day yesterday.  I knew the people doing the construction didn't bother to make sure the staff on hand could secure the door before they left.  The level of inconsiderate behavior from outside maintenance crews is extremely high.  I locked the door during the brief time I checked the gym to see if any progress was being made towards me being able to get back in there before September.  It wasn't.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Closing Up The Session

The boxing gym was a mess when I looked at it today.  I had no choice but to call those who had been regularly attending the class and tell them the summer session was over.  I reminded people to re-register for the fall class which doesn't begin until September.  So far, Kayla is already back in. Henry and David are planning to come back.   However, Aarav probably will not return, and I don't exactly have solid answers from everyone else.

The premature closing of the gym means I'll be stuck sitting behind the front desk counter which is my least favorite area of the field house.  Not being able to access the gym easily means I won't get a chance to clean the headgear, gloves, and hand wraps.  Hopefully, the construction -- which consists of replacing the old windows in the field house -- will be wrapped up before the break period is over.  But knowing the track record of other outside construction companies the park district has worked with, I'm not banking on the work being finished on time.

Harrison Park and Eckhart Park's boxing shows will take place during the break.  I'll see if Henry and David will be able to go since they are the two best prepared to compete.  If not, I'll go to those shows regardless. 

Well, That Wasn't A Good End To The Session

Due to the window installers dragging their feet, the boxing gym hasn't been open all week.  Allegedly, the installers have no friggin' clue what progress is going to be made from day to day.  They can't tell Steve, the field house supervisor, what is going on, which means he can't tell me what is going on.  I can't tell the youths and parents what is going on.  This is yet another example of poor planning between the park district and an outside construction company. 

The program has to be inconvenienced during the last two weeks of the summer session -- really?  While boxing shows are going on?  While registration is going on for the fall session?  Z, one of the seasonal attendants, told me he had been inside the gym and the room is a mess.  I haven't seen the inside of the gym since last Friday (I took a personal day on Saturday and the neighborhood alderman's annual festival was going on).  I shudder to think what I'll find if I'm able to go inside before the summer session ends at the end of next week.  I have a feeling that the summer session has ended prematurely.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

No More Late Sign Ups

It occurred to me that Leah has not been in the gym for a few days.  She only showed up once.  We went over jabs, straight rights, and basic footwork.  Sahia had talked to Leah's mother about the class and encouraged to register her child.  I signed the girl up because Leah's mother was so upset about her daughter having been picked on during the summer camp at another field house.  Normally, I don't sign up anyone after the middle of the session has passed by.  This will be the last time I do that as long as I am the boxing coach at LaFollette.

One of the reasons it's not a good idea to sign up people so late in the session is because of what I observed with Leah -- people immediately stop showing up  Some coaches keep their park district gyms open during the two, three, or four-week breaks between the 10-week sessions.  I learned quickly that people who haven't been showing up regularly to train during the normal sessions aren't necessarily going to be dedicated enough to show up during the break periods.  That alone is part of the bigger issue of participants not being motivated, signing up for boxing for the wrong reasons, indifferent parents, and guardians, etc.  Also, I have to get stuff done like clean the equipment and enter attendance numbers.  I can't do those things easily while class is in session.

People will point out, you have a volunteer.  But all supervisors don't view volunteers in the same way.  They certainly don't give all volunteers, regardless of the program or activity, the same privileges.  For example,  when I volunteered in the boxing gym at Loyola Park, I could run the gym in the place of the coach if they were not available on any given day.  However, the supervisor at LaFollette does not allow Sahia to open up the gym and run the program if I'm not there.  The program is officially not going on during the breaks so the volunteer would not be able to run it during that time, either. 

Etonia is another person I signed up late, as well.  She hasn't shown up yet.  I'm not calling her to find out what's up with that especially in light of the fact that next week is the last week of the summer session.  If people are really interested in participating, then there's no need for me to chase them.  I don't have time - nor interest - to do that anyway. 

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Rain Holds Off At Seward Park

It was predicted that there was a 30% chance of rain today.  Fortunately, no rain came down, so the boxing show at Seward Park went on as planned.

There were seven fights.  A lot of kids showed up later to weigh-in most likely due to heavy traffic.  Some streets were closed to accommodate the upcoming Lollapolloza music fest.  A Chicago Cubs game was going on, and part of Lake Shore Drive had been shut down due to a protest.  Henry and David were there early and weighed-in; both of them got fights.

Unfortunately, neither of the boys won their matches.  Henry was up against a kid from Ogden Park.  As usual, Coach Kenny was barking orders to his fighter.  It's funny how Kenny does that without being animated like most of the other coaches.  It's the way he says things and the tone of his voice as he sits stationary at ringside. 

David probably could have won his fight against a kid from Portage Park.  The other kid was heavier and slower.  Like his brother Henry, David wasn't aggressive enough and kept waiting on the other person to throw a punch first.  But I was glad that both boys were able to get fights.

Damaris was a no-show.  She wasn't in the gym the day before which wasn't a good look.  I'm seriously considering not allowing her to fight for the rest of the session.  Damaris keeps telling Sahia and I that she wants to fight, then she backs out of shows at the last minute.  I can't keep going through ups and downs with that girl. 

Alan was at the show, and he told me he plans to go to Sheridan Park's show, which is next week.  I'm going to skip that one and Ogden Park's show as well to give Henry and David some extra training time before Harrison Park's show.