Friday, October 26, 2018

An Evening At Hamlin


I hadn't planned to attend Hamlin Park's boxing show.  Henry was advised by a doctor to stay away from the gym for the rest of the week because his arm needs to rest.  Malik messed himself out of participating in Hamlin's show as well as being able to participate in the shows at Simons Park and Loyola Park. 

But the deciding factor in me going to Hamlin was Lael ticking me off with his behavior the day before.  I had warned Lael before about bringing his toys, basically small action figures, to class and playing with them when he is supposed to be working out.  Lael had an attitude because I wouldn't allow him to play with the toys.  I didn't want to be bothered with the boy's attitude problem the next day, so I shut the gym down for the show.  Besides, I missed Simons Park, so I figured I should attend the show at Hamlin.

Normally, the "Hamlin killers" wipe the floors with their opponents.  But several Hamlin fighters lost their matches.  The Humboldt Park fighters, as well as the one fighter from Harrison Park, decided to show their power.  Another surprise was the kids from Franklin Park, where a new boxing program has been opened.  The kids there are mostly made up of the North Lawndale Boxing League which is run by Derek.  Both of the fighters from there swung at their opponents wildly but won their fights.


Johnny, who is the coach at Humboldt Park, told me, "I have someone at my gym who used to be at your gym!"  Anayiah is now training over there.  Another result of the construction and maintenance issues going on at La Follette, I assumed.  By the time Sahia returns to volunteer at the gym, there might not be anyone showing up at all.  And there's still several weeks to go before the fall session officially ends.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Possible Neighborhood Boxing


Sahia stopped into the gym with Noel, Mikayla, Richey, and her adorable granddaughter.  As I suspected, Sahia had been out due to illness.  Her whole family, except for the granddaughter, had caught a virus that proceeded to hang on for weeks.  She'll be back in the gym at the end of this month.  I gave her the sad rundown on how the boxing gym has been running since late this summer. 

I've got to think about updating the class flyer for the winter session.  It doesn't have to be tweaked that much.  I am happy to know that some people do see the "boxing is not self-defense, it is a sport" line on the flyer.  I'm wondering should I also ask for more volunteers via the flyer.  Sahia has taken on some extra responsibilities that will cut down on the times she can be at the gym.  Coach James has several volunteers for his football, baseball, and basketball programs.  But then he has no problem finding adults who want to be involved in those sports.  I still consider myself lucky that I have Sahia.


There might be a possibility that I might have the opportunity to run a private boxing class for women only.  It's not set in stone at the moment.  Several women in my neighborhood have expressed an interest in having such a class for fitness purposes.  An affordable place to rent would have to be found.  It has to be in the neighborhood as most of the women have already indicated they want a class close to them.   Enough people would need to be gathered to start the class (and make enough money to pay the rent on the class space).  Equipment could possibly be obtained for a low price or for free.  I would love for that class to happen, so I'm working on that bit by bit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

And Stuff Just Keeps Happening


Lael was the first one to arrive for class, and I decided to tone down the surly attitude I had with him the day before.  I kept an eye on the clock as it was getting late, and there was no sign of Henry and David.  I was also keeping a watch out for Malik who never keeps track of time as he usually walks into the middle of the youth class.

Julio, with a paper in hand, came in with his sons, Henry and David, behind him.  Lael has made fast friends with David, so they ran off around the gym.  Meanwhile, Henry dramatically removed his jacket.  I gasped loudly.  Henry's arm was in a splint, taped up from his shoulder to his wrist.  "What happened?" I asked.

The boys' father explained that Henry's arm kept hurting, so he took him to the emergency room the night before.  The ER personnel thought that Henry might have a hairline fracture.  The paper in Julio's hand was for a doctor's appointment to further check Henry's situation out.  Julio believes that Henry is going to need a cast.  "I don't need one!" Henry stubbornly said.  I sighed.  "We're not going to Simons Park tomorrow.  Can't take a chance on injuring that arm further," I said.  "But I can take this off," Henry said, indicating the splint.  "If the doctor says a cast has to go on that arm, Henry, you'll have to wear it," I answered. 


While Julio and I were having our conversation, Malik walked in eating something.  An apple, perhaps.  I wanted to talk to Malik separately; I wasn't going to allow him to go to Simons Park due to too many days of training missed.  Malik walked around for a moment.  Seeing how he couldn't interrupt two adults talking, he left.  I was hoping he would return later, but that did not happen.

Could Henry be okay to participate in Hamlin Park's show next week?  Anything is possible, but I'm not placing any bets on that happening.  I'm not going to let Malik go to Hamlin because I'm tired of constantly reminding him that he has to train in order to fight.  The fall session might as well end now.

At least the adult class will be on the schedule for the winter session.  Whether the few who told me they were interested in registering actually do so remains a mystery.  All I know is that I had no interest in expanding the youth or the teen class to 90 minutes to make up for a canceled adult class.  I believe all of the 21 field houses that have boxing programs include an adult class as part of that.  I did not want to be the only field house with a boxing program that did not offer that to adults.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Program Tore Up From The Floor Up



I haven't only heard grumblings from at least one of the parents about the condition of La Follette Park's boxing gym.  I've also heard people wondering, in light of the water damage that is also present, why was the gym re-opened at all.  The general opinion is that the gym should have remained closed until all the maintenance and construction work was completed.  The auditorium floor which is right above the boxing gym has to be replaced due to water damage.  The paint on the ceiling in the gym is still falling onto the ring canvas.  Complaints have continued about how the gym floor looks.  The attendants keep grumbling about who among them is supposed to clean it and how often. 

I tend to agree that perhaps, the gym should have remained closed for the duration. The boxing program has taken a negative hit that it won't recover from, at least during this fall session. The session is just limping along until it ends in early December. 

Henry and David may or may not be able to attend the boxing show at Simons Park this week due to a family medical situation.  Lael doesn't have any interest in fighting; the class is just a time killer for him.  I'll know soon if Henry and David will be able to make it.  If they can't, I might just skip going to Simons Park altogether.  I'll plan for Hamlin Park's show to give Malik another chance.  I can't allow Malik to go to Simons because of the same reason he couldn't go to Loyola Park -- not showing up to train.  It ticks me off that Malik can commit to throwing a ball into a hoop, but has no recognition that boxing is a sport that requires regular practice, too. 


I keep thinking that maybe I should call Ariel so she can explain her continued disappearance in the gym.  I'm owed explanations from everyone else who hasn't been there, too, but honestly, I'm not really interested in listening at this point.  It is not a secret that the park district often acts swiftly to shut down programs that don't appear to be performing well.  There used to be more boxing programs in the field houses.  That number has dropped dramatically especially over the last ten to fifteen years.  What ticks me off is that if La Follette's boxing program is canceled, people will complain because they can no longer participate in it.  I'm guessing some of the ones who don't bother to show up and support it now will among those complaining the loudest.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

If Only


I often watch boxing technique videos.  "That would be very helpful and very cool to show to the people at the gym," I think to myself.  Then comes the realization that people actually have to show up to the gym in order for me to give them that knowledge.  Henry and David haven't been in training for two days.  Malik, despite all his talk about changing his schedule around to be there more often, wasn't there yesterday.  Damaris didn't show up, and neither did Koreon.  Everyone else on the attendance list continues to be MIA.  I haven't heard anything from Sahia recently, and I'm becoming concerned about that. 

Lael came in, but he only confirmed what I already knew:  Lael doesn't want to fight.  Like many youths who have passed through there, Lael doesn't have much motivation.  I had to ask twice before I received an answer from him about whether or not he wants to compete.  It's not like there are many chances left this year; I've already decided not to go to the last shows that are scheduled for November.  Lael's answer told me the usual; a love of the idea of being in a boxing, but no real interest in doing the work to get good at it.

This is how it works with me.  When the participants are operating on all cylinders, my energy goes way up.  Regardless of the fact that I have arthritic knees, lower back pain, left leg weakness, and I'm sometimes tired because of diabetes, I find the energy and make it work.  When the participants walk in there displaying low energy, my mood goes down.  I don't have much interest in being around people for several hours who act as if they would rather be someone else.  It makes what is normally a pleasant job hard to take.  Oh, I still do my job, but I'm not going to knock myself for people who show me indifference to what is supposed to go on in the gym.


If only I had a gym full of interested, motivated, serious, and hard-working participants,  I know some of the other park district boxing coaches have no problem filling up their gyms with those types of people.  But it has never been that way where I'm located.  I need to stop feeling guilty about what I may be doing or not doing because I've always known there are other factors -- most of which I have no control over -- that contribute to the state of the boxing program there. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I'm Not Accommodating


There have been days when long before I get to La Follette Park, I already know the day is going to be a waste of effort.  One of the reasons I feel like that is the continuing lack of participation and interest that's been happening from the first day I began working there.

In the youth class: I believe Koreon has dropped out.  I haven't seen him for a little over a week.  When Koreon was showing up, it was usually a half-hour after class had begun, leaving him with twenty minutes to train after putting on hand wraps and warming up.  If Koreon showed up any later than that, I would send him home to start over the next day.  His smart-aleck sister once tried to challenge me about the rules about class times and training.  I shut her up quickly.  Fortunately, she hasn't come around recently to make any more smart cracks.

Damaris is back, but she's displaying the same lack of motivation and discipline that she's been doing since April.  I don't say much to her because I'm done with constantly repeating myself.  The other day, she had the nerve to tell me, "I need to be exercised more."  "You know what to do," I told her, and I left her to remember what she had been previously taught over and over again by both Sahia and myself.  Sahia has more patience with Damaris' attitude than I do so I let her deal with Damaris.  But Sahia hasn't been in the gym since it was closed due to construction issues during the last two weeks of the summer session. 




As for the teen class, recently Malik told me his basketball coach changed the time of the team practice so Malik can come to boxing practice.  That sounds odd to me since I've never heard of any coach being that accommodating to any of their players who are trying to participate in another sport at the same time.  I've never done that, and I'm not going to do that. 

Ariel's mother signed her up over a week ago, but Ariel hasn't been there.  "I miss boxing," she told me.  But apparently, she hasn't missed it enough to make it a priority to show up to class.  Being overextended is a problem that most of the youths have; that's why Ariel dropped out of the class a year ago. 

I fail to understand why parents, guardians, kids, and teens, and some others who have eyed taking the adult class think I should accommodate people's lack of time management skills.  It never seems to occur to people that I don't have control over when the boxing class is scheduled.  I've given myself a little wiggle room in there in order to register people and take care of other administrative tasks, but that's as far as I can go.  The Chicago Park District runs after-school programs for youths and offers a few activities for adults that either run earlier in the mornings (usually for the senior citizens) or after normal workday hours.  There only a certain window of time to have activities each day based on the hours the field houses are open. 

As long as people don't get that, a lot are not going to be able to participate in most of what goes on in the gym and there will be no getting fights at the boxing shows.  Because of that lack of understanding, the boxing program, at least at La Follette, doesn't run as well as it should even after four years.  I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels most of the time. 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Friendly Faces Amid Neighborhood Drama


I was walking up to Loyola Park for their boxing show since that field house isn't far from my apartment.  Rodney, who is the coach at Trumbull Park, saw me as he was driving by.  "Girl, get on in this car," he said.  I was very appreciative that he gave me a ride.  "Did you go up to your gym first?" he asked.  "No.  I just go straight on to wherever the boxing show is being held on that day," I replied.

Henry and David did not show up.  I had already told Malik to sit out the show because of his non-attendance at La Follette Park, so I had no fighters.  As usual, there were youths in attendance they could have been matched with, but oh, well.  After the weigh-in, seven fights were made.  I served as a judge.

I introduced myself to Frank, who is the new supervisor at Loyola Park,  Frank's a nice, friendly guy who took over after Larry, whom I didn't get a chance to meet, retired not long after taking over from Mary, who retired late last year.  Mary was at the show.  "I miss everybody!" she said as she gave me a hug. There were a lot of other familiar faces in the place.  Of course, Alan and Barry were there as they are the boxing coaches at that park.  Shifty was on hand to referee.  Bill, Pat, Rico, and Johnny were a few of the other coaches present.



I hadn't seen Gary in a long time.  When I took the 'L more often, I would see him at one of the train stations.  He still works for CTA, but he's at another train stop these days.  Rojan, John, Mike, and Kevin -- all guys who train at Loyola Park -- were in attendance.  It was also good to see Sebastian, who told me he's still working towards his degree.  "Gabe still comes here," he told me, referring to his brother. 

I met Mallory and Csilla, two women who train out of Loyola Park.  They fought each other in an exhibition match.  Mallory is tall.  I told her later that she needs to utilize her long arm reach and long legs to gain an advantage in the ring.  Csilla, who is shorter, did well in fighting on the inside.  I told Csilla, who is an art teacher, that I used to fight out of Loyola.  "How did you feel before your first match?" she asked.  "I was beyond nervous.  I hung in there, but I didn't win.  But it gets better each time," I explained.  The person I had my first match with, Meg, is up for a captain's position with the Chicago Fire Department. 

There was some grumbling in the crowd during one of the matches.  The announcer responded with, "It's easy to box while sitting down."  "You ain't never lied,"  I thought as I chuckled to myself. 

There was a delay in getting a recording of the National Anthem started for some reason.  I initially told Barry that I would rather one of the kids get a chance to sing.  But after a few moments of silence, I told everyone, "Okay, I'll start it off.   But for some reason, this is the one song that I keep blanking out on the lyrics.  So everyone has to sing along with me."  With the encouragement of the announcer, I took the microphone.  The audience joined in and it was fine. 

Mike was matched with Solomon, who is in Barry's class.  Solomon keeps getting better every time I see him, and tonight was no exception.  Now Mike did pop Solomon good a couple of times.  But Solomon was the busier of the two, so he got the win.  Unfortunately, Kim, Mike's wife, got to the field house late so she didn't see Mike fight.  But I assured her that her husband did well. 

One of the guys who fought out of Hamlin is a lifeguard at La Follette.  I recognized him after I congratulated him on his win.  "I go into the boxing gym at La Follette and work out in the ring from time to time," he told me.  It's easy for him to do seeing how the door to the gym is often left wide open everyday way before I get there.  But now that I know the guy boxes, I told him he could go in and train whenever he has the time. 

John worked over the guy he fought with, who I believe was from Hamlin Park.  Hamlin people are hard to beat.  I know, because I've been in the ring with a few of them in the past.  But John stayed on the guy for the win. 

The boxing show was pleasant.  But the crowd wasn't as big, and it thinned out quickly.  There was a bit of a low vibe in the room.  Kevin said that it was probably because of recent shootings that have left the neighborhood on edge.  A couple of murders took place over the past few days; the incidents are thought to be the work of a serial killer.  Not the first time there has been that type of person in the neighborhood, but it's been years between then and now.  "You think they'll catch the guy?" Alan asked me as he drove me home.  Pictures of an alleged suspect showed a man dressed from head to toe in black with his face covered.  "It would be easy for whoever it is to change out of that outfit and blend in.  They may catch him, but they may not," I answered, shaking my head.