I Am a Coach

My mind drifts as I drive to the gym. The car seems to know where to go without much direction from me as I think this is roughly my 2000th trip since I started the gym 8 years ago. That would be round trip… which means more like 4000 trips to-and-from the gym.

This thought occurs to me because sometimes I sense (or openly view) a certain lack of understanding about what we coaches do in this sport we all love.

I think that I’ve been very helpful to our gas companies. Since my gym is a 14 mile trip from home, I estimate that I have spent about $14,000 on gas alone and that doesn’t include wear and tear on my vehicle…wow. I never thought of just driving to the gym in these terms! Now, if we add in the time away from spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, hobbies, etc... I sometimes wonder: “What is it that keeps me in this sport?”

In addition to not having enough coaches, parents or anyone to help, I wonder how many kids I will have at the gym tonight as I have not had time to recruit lately. Gotta start planning for my next shows coming up for the fall and 2015 season. What fun!! It will take me 30 hours of phone calls and emails to match as many of my “ready for prime time boxers” as I can. Because my philosophy on running a gym is: If you’re going to do it; do it big, I would rather coach the masses than the few. I like exposing as many people as possible to proper amateur boxing and it is the only way to build a large competitive team.

Sadly, because our sport requires what most young folks are allergic to, work and sweat, we only keep 2-4 out of every 100 that come to the gym for the long haul. But that’s okay because I know even the ones that come and go leave with a better appreciation and fondness of amateur boxing.

I hope I can get my usual crew: family members, friends, and those rare parents who help with the sale of tickets, selling concessions, security, front door, advertising, etc. What awards should I give this time? Gotta be careful; at the last show I went overboard and ended up losing money.

Coaches put on their own shows to get competition for their boxers, earn funds for the program and expose amateur boxing to more fans. If you want to have a first rate program, you’ve gotta put on shows.

I think the genesis of a lot of these thoughts come from my sometimes frustration with non-coaches making rules for our sport who don’t consider the plight of coaches. We need more friends at the national office to keep sanction and athlete fees in line. We hurt our sport every time a rule is passed that makes coaching more difficult or complex. It pushes coaches just a little closer to having that talk with themselves about… “Why do I do all this?”

I estimate that 98-99% of boxing coaches in America are volunteers. Believe it or not volunteers, even boxing coaches with boxing running through their veins, get worn out. This is dangerous because we have absolutely no program in this country to recruit coaches. It happens by accident and those accidents don’t happen often enough.

Some of you that read this are officials and/or administrators. Please never forget that we coaches understand your contributions. They are enormous, thankless, financially burdensome, and time consuming.

I am always amazed at how many officials volunteer their time, their money and their expertise to this sport but do not derive the pleasure that we coaches attain… that is watching young people develop before our very eyes and having a large contribution to that effort.

I almost forget how many of us coaches also take on political roles such as being involved in LBCs, Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, etc. to make sure our voices are heard and to keep the power crazy folks from over-running our sport.

We want to have input in the making of rules that affect our sport. Too often, new rules are made without considering the full affect and the unintended consequences that will affect our sport at the grassroots level and how much more work (and hassle) it will add to the coaches. As your President, I will do everything in my power to make the job of the amateur boxing coach easier. I am only one person and will not always get my way but I will at least fill the room with uppercuts trying.

We at the national level and LBC level need to do everything in our power to promote the sport of amateur boxing not impede it. This is particularly true for LBC chairmen. Be sensible, be reasonable and most of all be considerate of the never-ending frustrations and contributions that we coaches make to the sport.

I hope our paths cross soon,

John Brown

President USA Boxing