Friday, November 22, 2019

Speaking of Relatives

A guy named Terrance was working with a production crew that was filming scenes for an untitled movie at the field house.  He took this photo.  I'm smiling for the camera and Terrance.  However, the three in the background - Caiden, and his cousins Keith and Keon - I had no smiles available.

I don't know what is going on with them, but for the last week or so, running the class with them has been difficult.  It has gotten to the point that I'm not listened to at all, and I'm constantly being disrespected.  I called Caiden's mom, who said she would talk to him.  She also said she would talk with Keon and Keith's dad.  There has been no change in behavior, especially where Caiden is concerned.  Keith is just clueless.  I don't really feel right lumping Keon in with the other two because he is more serious about learning something than his brother and cousin.  But Keon gets distracted by them during class.

I often dread when youths who are related to each other are in the boxing class.  The youths play around with each other, etc., and nothing much in the way of training gets done.  There are exceptions.  For example, Jazzmyne and Elijah, siblings who are in the teen class, are always on-point in regards to working hard while they are in the gym. 

But not so with Caiden, Keith and Keon.  Those youths had been talking about their disinterest in boxing for a while.  I let it go for the longest time, but early last week, I couldn't act like I hadn't heard what was said. I put the boys in check for making statements in front of me about how they find boxing boring, they don't like shadowboxing, they don't want to do the warm-up, etc.  I also brought up how I didn't appreciate the disrespect that was shown towards Rick, a former coach who has been stopping by the gym.  All have said they don't plan to be in the class after this current session is over.  Ever since that conversation, the relationship between them and I has gone down. 

I gave them the option of not coming to the gym at all anymore.  After all, their parents wouldn't be losing any money because boxing is free for youths.  Keith gave me some explanation as to why they won't drop the class, but I was so angry with Keith and his brother and cousin that I didn't pay attention to what was said.  I don't even pretend to want to train them anymore, and my level of sarcasm is off the charts whenever I have to say anything to them.  All is left is counting down the days until this session is over. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Me Vexed

This wasn't a good week.  The last thing I wanted was to have my blood pressure raised again when I arrived at the gym.  Unfortunately, Caiden and his cousins Keith and Keon did just that.  As usual, the boys showed up late to the gym.  Another 15 minutes of playing around took place further cutting down on the time available for sparring.

Keith put a pair of sparring gloves on then announced, "I'm not sparring today."  "This is just like at Hamlin Park, waiting until the last minute to say, 'I don't want to fight'," I told Keith sarcastically.  Keon and Caiden sparred but in the middle of the first round, Caiden dropped to the canvas and rolled out of the ring.  "I quit," Caiden grumbled.  "Why?" I demanded.  I wasn't given a coherent answer.

No such drama happens with Jazzmyne and her brother Elijah, who showed up for the next class.  It helps greatly that their parents are totally on board with their kids learning the sport properly and participating in it.  Both Jazzmyne and Elijah soak up everything Rick and I show them, and they are hungry to learn more.

Rick believes Caiden and his cousins can learn to be disciplined in the sport.  However, my patience has long disappeared.  When Caiden and his cousins aren't playing around, they're constantly sniping at each other.  Not much in the way of training happens during the hour. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Seeing Sabotage From The Outside

David apparently assumed that I would be happy to see him.  David hadn't been in the gym for nearly two weeks.  "Where have you been?" was my greeting.  "I was in church," David replied.  It was something that he knew about in advance, so I should have been notified.  However, being considerate in that manner keeps going over David's head, and his cousin Vanessa doesn't get it, either. Vanessa has been MIA for about the same length of time. Their cousin Esteban was a no-show most of the time when he was registered in the class.

Luckily, Jazzmyne, who is more serious about the sport, was in the gym during the teen class.  I ignored David for the short 20 minutes he works out just because I could, and I focused on her.  Jazzmyne's dad, Johnathan, is planning to register her younger brother, Elijah, for the winter session. 

It was pointed out to me by someone who has hung around the field house a few times that the boxing program is being sabotaged.  Unfortunately, that's not new information.  That has been going on basically from the first day I started working for the park district.  I know some of the reasons why.  For example, some of it springs from the "Hillari doesn't like kids" whispering.  Yeah, that rumor has been running since 2015 with no sign of slowing down.  Other reasons aren't clear, but the situation is one of the main reasons why the boxing program at LaFollette hasn't grown much. 

I'm still working on expanding my wish list of what I would like to happen in the gym.  However, finding cooperation from everyone involved is not going to be easy to do. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Write It Down

Rick (Riccardo) brought a friend of his, Mike, to the gym.  Both had some great ideas about building up the boxing program at LaFollette Park.  Mike suggested that I write down what I want the program to accomplish over the next few weeks and months.  We need to have a plan to start with. 

Initially, I wrote a lot about what I expected to go on in the gym.  Most of that involved the training process.  What I had concerning behaviors and goals that the participants should aspire to came much later as situations came up. Those went up as signs on the wall which few people read.  Now I see that I need to form a more comprehensive plan. 

I need better cooperation from parents, guardians, and youths which remains extremely elusive.  Rick and Mike said, "We have to make them want to be here."  That's not going to be easy in light of kids who resist learning the discipline needed for the sport, parents, and guardians whose only interest in the program is that it is free, the fact that the team sports get more attention, park district limitations on the boxing program, etc.  This is going to take a lot of work, but it's worth giving it a try.

Jazzmyne, a teenage girl, showed up to announce that she had signed up for the boxing class last week.  The computers have been down at the field house for over a week, so I was not able to check on registrations.  But then, I was not expecting anyone to sign up this late in the season.  Jazzmyne had taken up boxing a couple of years ago at Portage Park.  She remembers some of the basics, but we've got to work on re-learning a lot of the techniques. 

Once again, I was irritated by the boys in the first class who keep trying to incorporate street fighting antics into boxing.  "What if I punch like this?" Keith asked, pretending to deliver a blow to someone who was on the canvas.  "The referee won't allow it," I answered.  Then Keith decides he would come at the question another way in hopes of getting the answer he wanted.  "What if they grabbed me in a certain way?" Keith asked. "It does not matter," I said, trying to keep some anger out of my voice.  "The referee will stop it.  Realize that boxing is NOT a street fight.  It has rules."  One of the purposes of boxing is to keep kids off of the streets, not giving the kids a pass to give better beat downs on these streets. 

Monday, November 04, 2019

Looking At The Front Door

I was low sick all this past weekend, and I was not 100% today.  I have no doubt that I caught something from one of the kids in the gym although I don't know which one.  Every time an adult catches something from a kid, like me for example, the adult is affected ten times worse.

I put in a phone message to Mike O'Hara as suggested by Riccardo, a former coach who has been coming around lately to LaFollette Park.  Mike is involved in boxing and is looking for a place where he can bring some people who want to train.  Riccardo would like to help build up the boxing program.  But I often wonder if it is a case of too little, too late for LaFollette Park.

The last time Riccardo came in, Keon and Keith were in the gym.  Whenever those two thought I wasn't paying attention, the usual slacking off would start.  Riccardo noticed that, too.  "Those who don't want to train need to be told to go in the corner while you work with the ones who are serious about this," Riccardo told me. Good advice, but easier said than done.  I seldom have serious contenders on the attendance list, but plenty of those who not only waste my time but don't even finish out the ten-week sessions.  Depending on my level of irritation and who is causing that, there are days where I don't give out much in terms of instruction. 

Like an old rap song said, "I'm looking at the front door."  Seriously.  All the effort I've put into trying to make that boxing program work has come to naught.  I appreciate Riccardo wanting to help out.  However, any revival of the current situation has to attract willing participants who will stick with the class in the long run.  Unfortunately, serious people do NOT register for the boxing classes. 

I keep hearing that the former boxing coach at LaFollette was a guy named Pat LaCassa.  I understand that LaCassa was a former boxer and went on to train some good amateur and professional boxers.  I would sure love to talk to him to learn if he faced the same challenges I've always had to deal with in the gym.