Archive for September, 2004

My Brain Hurts Already

My Brain Hurts Already

Warning: dates on calendar are closer than they appear.

Pain 4
Mobility 7

This evening brings yet another group of 9 7 to 9 year old kids as our third and final group. I am afraid… very afraid.

Well, that was not as hectic and blindingly fast as the first night but still it is a frenetic pace when you have 9 young girls standing around expecting you to know what you are doing. They are very demanding, I have to say. Of course they are allas cute as buttons, and it is such a great dichotomy compared to working in a windowless basement cubicle on documentation that never gets read and having meetings that never lead to anything. I have to say that even though it leads to very long days and at the moment extremely painful mornings it is worth it to inject a little joy and childlike happiness into my life.

So the kids rampaged in and were lined up and told the rules, taught the safety basics and taken through a warm up of sorts… the problem with 7 year olds is that they are still extremely floppy and have a hard time learning about keeping legs and arms straight. It is akin to having a swordfight using a wet noodle. They were all very well behaved, but of course the first class is always like that, and they all seemed to be interested in what they were there for, which means at the very least you can find some way to keep them interested. The worst thing is when the parents sign their kids up without asking them if they really want to, and you end up with a child who doesn’t want to be there no matter what you do or how hard you try to make it fun.

I am happy then to report that all of our groups are so far looking like fun. I am very fortunate also that I am going to be able to coach level 1 kids who I would be coaching if I were working elsewhere but also level 2 kids who are competetive and actually compete at meets and go out of town for weekend competitions. These kids are generally more motivated but also are in need of more discipline and physical conditioning which is where my expertise lays. If I were not coaching with Nicole I would not get the opportunity to coach competetive kids nor would I get the chance to coach with her private classes, some of whom are adults which is also a real eye-opener. So lucky I am indeed, not just to have Nicole as my girlfriend but also as my coching partner. I say partner, but in reality I am the coaching gopher, which is fine by me as I find my coaching feet once more.

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft
can you be extremely hard and strong.

Zen Proverb

Pain 3
Mobility 7

Not much change on the pain front, I am still in a fair amount of pain, but being careful to maintain my mobility as much as possible. I have started back at the gym again, and unfortunately have blown up like a balloon as my old muscles fill with glycogen once again, pushing the limits of my scale and wardrobe. I am hoping that once I am over the first growth spurt that I will start to reduce in size once again, especially since I will be active in the evenings, moving house and basically reducing my couch time to zero for the next couple of months.

We arrived an hour early for coaching… that was my fault. I went into the washroom to change into my shorts and T-shirt and tried to stretch my back a little on the mats while nobody was around. Nicole was in the office talking to the bigwigs and slowly the other coaches started to arrive. We found out right away that we were to be the only group for the first part of the night, with most classes being there for the latter part of the evening. Each night’s activities are divided into groups, forming 2×2 group sessions, one early at 430 and one later on lasting until 8pm. This makes for a hectic night, but that in itself is a blessing giving you little time to become bored or distracted. So it was a relief in a way that the evening was off to a slow start, only one other coach (although the assistant for the other group was late – not a good way to start your year) and the gym relatively quiet. As we hung out in the main gym talking about what we were going to do, I could hear the volume slowly beginning to rise from under the door in the dressing room. It was like those bad 80’s horror movies where the light and smoke comes from under the door to indicate impending evil… it was not far wrong let me tell you. As soon as a coach opened the door these little demons spilled out on to the floor tripping over each other, screaming and shouting and giggling, running around like demented rabbits and basically raining mayhem on the staff. Kids are funny though, once they had exploded onto the scene they suddenly realized that they were surrounded by strangers, even the ones who had been at camp all summer were subdued by the appearance of odd faces, gappy smiles and crazy hairdos. This few moments were sheer terror for all involved, but true to their vast experiences and much like old English Sheepdogs the coaches moved in to herd their groups together and corral them into manageable areas. It was really a thing of beauty to see it happen, amid all the screams and the shouts and the tears there arose a sudden calm as each child was picked out and told where they belonged. I guess it was akin to jumping waist deep into a cold swimming pool, that first sharp intake of breath that cannot be helped is gradually replaced with calm resignation and as the kids lapped around my feet I started to feel a little more at home…

After all, someone has to be in charge, right? Thank God it was Nicole and not me!

We started off with some name games to try and drill 9 names into our heads knowing that in a couple of hours there would be 9 more then 2 more days and 9 more… I am not sure I have room in my head for another 27 names! We had them throwing pit cubes at each other (big square pieces of foam that fill the pit so you can throw children in without hurting them) shouting their names, other kids names and whatever would get them used to being around each other. Since it was the first class we went over the rules, who we were, what we expected and so on, but it is hard to gauge just how much sinks into a 7 or 8 year old brain when you can tell all they are thinking is trampoline, trammmpoooooliiiiiine… We introduced them to some of the equipment, had them show us what they could do as far as each rotation was concerned and for Nicole and I tried to sort out how we were going to divide the labour so as to keep the little leotard lemmings happy.

The first half of the night was really tough, but being small kids at least they got over my imposing size relatively quickly, I think I probably went from Godzilla to Shrek in record time in their eyes. The second part of the evening presented a slightly different challenge since it involved competitive girls that knew me last year as Nicole’s sidekick but who would need to realize that this year I was not going to be the happy goofy guy. It was easier because at age 12 or 13 kids start to realize their place in the grand scheme of things and they start to take some responsibility for who they are. They also are still in that phase where they like to try to please people and to fit in with each other so it is in some respects an ideal situation. However they never shut up. Never. They are like the Energizer bunny on crack when it comes to talking and to get a word in edgeways you have to be loud, angry or very large in order for them to pay any attention at all. Part of it can be put down to the fact that for some of them they are at new schools this year, and this was their first day back making the gym their only secure frame of reference for the day. Part of it can be put down to their not having seen each other for a few weeks and they have a million camp stories to share, regardless of the fact that most of them spend all day on MSN with each other… In any case, the energy was sky high, the gym was absolutely crammed full of kids with a full 4 sessions going at once and so the only logical thing to do was have fitness testing!!! It’s always best to get it out of the way early, I remember at the start of rugby season the first 2 weeks were nonstop conditioning and if I had to do it… well, you can guess the rest…

And so it went on, the fitness and skills testing were over in a flash and with a flurry of high-five’s they were gone leaving me wondering how I was going to make it home, or for that matter to work the next day.

I have to say it was really great to see the kids again after the summer, they really do grow up so fast and even though it had only been 10 weeks since they were last here, they all looked so different. It will be funny to see the videos from last year’s classes and competitions and see how young they look in comparision. I am sure there will be some red faces when we go through the meet videos to prep for this year, but I hope that above all they enjoy and cherish the times they have with us, since they have no idea just how soon they will be moving on to different places, different people and different lives.

Floor Meeting, Floor Meeting

Meetings are fun when you get to sit on the floor…

Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted.
Because it is so easy not to battle at all,
to just accept and call that acceptance inevitable.

Audre Lord

Pain 3
Mobility 7

I thought I would revisit this little scale for a minute and just update my physical abilities. I was wandering through some of the archives here and looking for pages that have all the bells and whistles I needed and found this indicator from when I first had surgery. It is bizarre that it has been almost 2 years now and I still deal with the fallout of the surgery on a daily basis. I recently spent a fun filled couple of days at Futures Gymnastics learning how to be a Gymnastics coach, or rather how to begin my coaching career so to speak. During those 2 days I sat on the floor, got up and sat down about a hundred times and generally got to roll around on the floor and goof about. On the third day God created pain… Now, I have a theory about the pain I am currently experiencing which both comforts my own worries and creates a light at the end of the tunnel. My theory is that each time I push my body beyond what it is used to I am going to get pain, massive, mind scrambling, tear jerking pain. This I accept. This pain will last as long as it takes for my body to get used to these muscles moving again. However this is where the theory is a bit fuzzy since I am not sure exactly how long it should take. By my experiences after Canada’s Wonderland this year, I am guessing that 2 or 3 weeks is probably normal. So, since it has been only a few days I am not worried. I am however in a world of hurt as they say.

Tonight, I embarked on my first activity as an official gymnastics coach and attended a meeting of coaches at Vaughan where I will be assisting. Sitting on the floor and hanging out at the gym is my kind of meeting I have to say, albeit uncomfortable for me I still prefer that to our Wednesday hackabouts at work. We went over the rules of conduct, the safety, our roles and responsibilities and so on. Then we went over each piece of equipment making sure we all knew how to make them safe and how to spot basic movements. This was essential since there were other coaches there who had never coached before, and in addition had not had any experience being in charge of athletes not far their junior.

I had a feeling that I had not anticipated, and that was the reminder of what it is like to have a weekday commitment. Not since my days of scouts and Air Cadets have I ever had a weekly commitment at night that was purely recreational. Sure, going to the gym counts but not as a team or group event. I realized that I was about to join a team of people committed to the education and entertainment of other people’s kids. I remember when I coached a team of 9 year old girls in soccer just after I had graduated university and what a joy that was, but it was so much easier being only once a week on the weekends and far less of an imposition since I was a salesman at the time. The idea of having all these kids relying on us as coaches is daunting enough, I can’t imagine what these 16 and 17 year old kids must be thinking… I guess it is true that not all kids nowadays are punks…