Sunday, September 30, 2018

Whining and Sparring Don't Mix


Henry and David had to spar with each other yesterday -- again -- because as usual, other kids don't often show up to the gym on Saturday.  I steeled myself for David's usual whining.  His brother Henry is always up and ready for a sparring session.  David dawdles around, and once the action starts, the complaints start.  However, David starts most of the confusion in the ring holding Henry's arms, pushing his brother, etc.

Henry often returns the favor in reaction to his younger brother's antics.  Even their father gets on the both of them about it, as well.  I found myself commanding, "Break!", "Stop holding!", and "Step back!" once too often.  "I shouldn't have to say anything more than once!  If a referee has to keep repeating commands, the fight could end with a disqualification," I warned both of the brothers.  Yet, the wrestling kept continuing.  After sparring, David kept complaining about Henry hitting him.  I told David -- in front of his dad -- that I had no interest in hearing the whining again.  I repeated to both boys that they had to watch their actions in the ring.

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I was glad that they had a chance to spar, however.  Damaris, who had been MIA for a while, returned to the gym.  But she was not prepared to spar.  Usually, she spars with Henry, as I was not comfortable with putting her with the girls who were smaller than she.  Damaris has grown in height and lost some weight since the last time I saw her. 

Ariel re-registered and promised to come in on Friday, but she wasn't there on that day nor on Saturday.  She's been gone for too long for me to be able to put her in Loyola Park or Simons Park's boxing shows next month.  Maybe if she starts showing up regularly I might be able to put her in Hamlin Park's boxing show.

However, time is running out for Malik who continues not to come in and train.  I'm ticked because he knows the rules about training and participation in the boxing shows.  It won't be a surprise if he doesn't show up at Loyola Park despite the fact that I wrote out the information and gave it to him.  Malik missed out on last year's City-Wide Boxing Tournament because of engaging in his usual habits.  If Malik bails out on Loyola Park, I'm not going to be open to putting him in at Simons Park nor Hamlin Park.


One of the attendants was overly concerned about a complaint about the cleanliness of the gym.  I've been disappointed about that, but I hadn't said anything to my boss nor the attendants about it.  On Saturday there were construction workers in the gym.  As long as that is going on, the gym is not going to be clean for a while.  I've basically thrown my hands up in the air about that.  But later, I found out that a parent did complain about how dusty the floor was.  My boss told me to send the parent to them if they have any questions.   In the meantime, everyone is going to have to deal with the gym as it is. 



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Windows Unclear


One, count 'em, one new window has been installed in the field house.  It's in the area right outside the supervisor's office.  Progress continues to be slow, as well as painful, as far as the employees and the customers are concerned.  At least I didn't have to mop up the gym floor yesterday; somebody else did that before I arrived.  But the condition of the floor, the walls, and the ceiling are still horrible.

The guy who dropped Lael off yesterday whom I assume is a friend of the kid's mom got an earful from me.  "Lael told his grandparents and mom that he doesn't have to be here every day," I said.  Lael couldn't deny it when his mom's friend asked him to explain.  Hopefully, the friend delivered a message to Lael's people about attendance.  "How is he doing in here?" the friend asked.  "Lael's heart is not into it," I answered.  I'm not going to put Lael into a fight.

Malik didn't make an appearance yesterday, not even to give me another excuse.  What is more concerning is that the ones who have been in the class since spring have yet to show up.  The gym has been re-opened for how long now -- a couple of weeks?  Everybody rushed to re-register for fall, but I've received no notifications as to why they haven't been in the gym.  I keep referencing that song by Beyonce from a few years ago where she tells a boyfriend she has fired that people can be replaced.

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I was told that Leah was thinking of returning to the gym, but I'm not too sure about that.  Her mom's motive was to teach the girl to handle bullies at summer camp.  That issue disappeared when the kid picking on her was kicked out of camp, and then camp ended not long after that.  Leah only showed up to class once, so I'm guessing the original motivation for being there is not going to develop into a different motivation for wanting to box.

Barry and I have been trying to pre-match people for Loyola Park's upcoming show.  It looks like we're not going to be able to do it for David because Barry doesn't have someone who is David's weight.  Henry and Malik might fare better because Barry has boys their size.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Lack of Schedule Commitment


Lael has been deliberately telling his grandparents and his mom the wrong days and time that the kids' boxing class meets.  Lael, like most of the kids, does not show up regularly, but he's usually there three times a week.  That frequency went down to one day, and I wanted to know why.  His grandfather dropped Lael off, and that was the first time I remember meeting him.  Granddad claimed that the grandmother didn't know the class times after expressing surprise upon learning the class meets five days a week.

"She knew, and so did Lael's mom," I told the grandfather.  The mom seldom drops her son off nor picks him up.  But she has a receipt showing the days and times her son's class meets.  The grandmother, who has been in the gym before, has brought her grandson there enough times to know the schedule.  When the granddad returned later to pick Lael up, he asked what time his grandson should be there the following day.  On their way out, I heard the granddad tell Lael that he was going to bring him there.  I heard Lael saying, "No."  Lael did not show up the following day.

Once again, I have to refer to my old school roots.  Adults didn't rely on information that kids told them back in the day.  The grown-ups knew that kids often didn't have facts straight.  The grown-ups also knew that kids would often resort to fibbing.  Apparently, that did not happen in the case.  There was confusion that could have easily been cleared up with a phone call to the field house.


Malik has reverted to the usual pattern of stopping in before the teen class to tell me, "I'll be here," and then not showing up.  "I've been playing basketball, and I have a job delivering papers," Malik told me.  We've had a conversation about the impossibility of being able to play two sports at one time before.  I'm not knocking the fact that Malik has a job, but I'm tired of dealing with teens who assume they can do everything at once and have poor time management.  I locked up the gym as soon as it was apparent that Malik wasn't going to show.  Besides, I was disgusted by the appearance of the gym, and I decided to spend the rest of my shift sitting up at the front desk counter.

Sahia has been out of town, which explains her absence at the gym.  But it's just as well, considering the condition of the gym.  No further work seems to have been done anywhere in the field house.  Allegedly, the person who was overseeing the construction has quit the project.  Boards are covering most of the windows, but it can't stay like that for much longer due to the fact that it is officially autumn and winter is not far behind.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Boxing Gym In A War Zone


Koreon is the new kid whose name I couldn't think of the other day.  Today was the second time Koreon showed up late.  "You gotta show up here on time to get the full hour of practice," I told him.  I sent him off to a heavy bag on the other side of the room to work on the jab and straight right.  My concentration was more on Henry and David.  Barry called me earlier wanting to know who I had for the Loyola Park show.  I weighed Henry, David, and Malik and reported back to Barry.  But I did not weigh Koreon.

Koreon's sister walked in several minutes later.  "You know your brother came in here late again," I told her.  "He doesn't get off school until later," was her explanation.  My thought was "And her point is what?  Their father has a receipt showing what time class begins, and that was explained to him during registration."  Audibly I told her, "I'd like to get your brother in a boxing show, but he's got to get here to train for it.  I'll see what I can do."  However, I made no promises.

Malik was late, too, but not as late as Koreon.  Once again, Malik expressed concern that he has no one to spar with.  If my left leg and lower back were not giving me problems, I would spar with him.  Luckily, Malik plays other sports which is a help to him in terms of stamina.  Based on that, I might let him fight at Loyola Park without the sparring practice.  Malik has had one fight before, so he knows what to expect.

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The adult class remains empty at the moment.  I sat alone in the gym reading the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly when Sherina, one of the attendants, dashed into the room.  "We've got to close up the field house.  There's been a shooting in the park!" she said.  "Another one?" I said, shaking my head.  There had been a shooting several days ago.  I quickly grabbed my stuff, locked up the gym, and came upstairs.

"Who got shot?" I asked some staff members who were standing at the crash door that leads to the parking lot.  I was told that it was a man who volunteers with the youth football team.  I had seen the man and his son who is on the team, a few hours earlier.  We had exchanged pleasantries. 

Several kids who were leaving the building were crying.  They had been on the football field when the shooting took place.  I was so shocked that I forgot to ask about the condition of the man.  I got in my car and drove off. 

I work in a war zone.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Low Fall Expectations


When the gym re-opened last week, I had to do a lot of heavy lifting and moving to get the equipment room back straight.  Typical of some construction workers, there was no care nor thought taken when my stuff was shifted around to accommodate their work.  I have no doubt the equipment is going to get shoved around again in the near future because their work is still not done.

An adult who frequents the field house regularly shook their head when I told them of the condition of the gym.  "If this place was sitting in a different neighborhood, none of this would be going on.  The work would have been done," they told me.  I don't like playing race cards, but it makes me wonder.  I have been inside a lot of field houses in the park district, and yes, some are better kept up, have better resources, and don't have to deal with outside street drama spilling over into their locations.


Frankly, the gym is a mess.  One of the walls were opened up to expose a pipe; the construction workers put cones around that area.  A plastic cage covers another opening in a wall on the other side of the room.  Last week I caught Lael, who is always easily distracted, pulling back the flaps to see what was inside.  The floor hasn't had a broom or mop run over it in a long time.

It crossed my mind to put in another bid to have extra equipment placed in the gym.  That can't happen, even if there is some money in the budget, because of the current condition of the gym.  Judging how the construction company has been handling their business, I can't afford the new equipment to be damaged. So I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, meaning when the gym will get shut down again, maybe for the rest of the session.





Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sparring In A Damaged Gym


The gym opened back up a few days ago, but I'm wondering why the construction company thought the program can work with what has been going on.  The walls and ceilings were really hit by the rains around Labor Day.  I kept thinking to myself, "Looks like there will be another paint job done, and that will take at least two months for maintenance to finish."  The construction company still hasn't replaced any of the windows in the equipment room nor in the washrooms.  The fans had been left on in the gym probably to cut down on the smell from the water damage.  The floor is blanched and looks bad. 

Only Henry, his brother David, Malik, and a new kid -- Lancom, I think? -- have shown up this week.  The new kid came in yesterday with fifteen minutes left on the clock, then told me he wouldn't be in today.  Malik is already doing his usual habit of showing up a few days during the week but disappearing on Saturdays.  The other three teens signed for the class haven't shown yet.  Malik was concerned about not being able to spar because others wouldn't be there, so I suspect that is why I didn't see him today. 



I gave my usual one courtesy call to the others but they haven't been in yet.  Loyola Park, Simons Park, and Hamlin Park are the last three shows I have scheduled to attend this year.  Those all take place in October.  We missed Portage Park and Davis Square Park's shows due to the gym not opening on time for the fall session.  I can't shake the feeling that the gym may be shut again before we get too far along into October.  If that happens, the gym might as well be shut until January.  There is no way people are going to be able to train to do well in the remaining shows in that case.

Henry and David sparred today but they were pushing and holding way too much.  Both I and their father kept admonishing the boys to break and step back from each other.  David still has the bad habit of keeping his hands down, and Henry tagged him each time.  David also gave his brother a low blow by lifting his knee.  Afterward, David kept whining about how Henry was hitting him.  I was going to get on him, but I let his father handle the situation. 

I've been leaving the doors leading to the hallway outside the gym as well as the doors right before the main gym door open.  Coach James' seasonal sports equipment is stored in an area off the boxing gym.  I got tired of the kids expecting me to open the doors so they can get to their stuff after I was through for the day.  I've long been tired of those kids tromping through my gym and goofing around with the boxing equipment.  Now I lock the door leading directly into the gym.  Unfortunately, I still walk in most days to find the gym has been left wide open for anyone to roam inside.  I often wish I was working at a field house with a smaller boxing gym with only one way in and out.  It would keep my blood pressure from going up.


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

When It Rains. . .



It rained heavily in Chicago over the past weekend.  The rain pushed a hole through the roof at the field house and the auditorium was flooded.  The boxing gym is on the floor below the auditorium.  Pools of water spread out over that floor.  The ring was wet.  Plaster was peeling off the ceiling and the walls, and water poured through the light fixtures.  The gym has been closed since before the summer session ended due to constructor work inside the field house (the swimming pool is also closed for the same reason).  Now, this has happened.

Yesterday, a couple came in to sign up their son, Nicolas, for the boxing program.  I told them the gym may not be open in time for the fall session which begins next week, but I would keep them informed about the gym's status. The reality is that the gym may not be open again for several weeks.  "This is now a fight between the park district and the construction company," the field house supervisor said.  However, the problems with the roof were apparent over a year ago when chunks of plaster were falling from the ceiling.  Luckily, no one was using the auditorium when that happened.  Of course, the auditorium is now closed as well.  The area manager has been asked to come out and survey what has happened as well as take pictures for evidence. 

My concern is that the fall session for the boxing program could be canceled completely.  La Follette's boxing program has been struggling since I arrived there due to many other factors.  In light of recent events, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to cancel the program permanently, which would put me in a precarious situation.