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JBLM kids learn valuable life lessons through boxing

Photo by Staff Sgt. David Chapman Lydell Spry, Child, Youth and School Services boxing instructor, gives 9-year-old Adam Balvanz, directions practices as he practices his punching skills during boxing class at the JBLM CYSS Teen Zone Sept. 26. In the c

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For many kids, the dream of hitting the game winning home run or scoring the winning touchdown fills their thoughts every day. But for some children, the adrenaline that comes from learning how to fight is all the excitement they need.

At the Teen Zone, located at Child, Youth and School Services Parent Central in Building 2295, JBLM Lewis Main, children from 8 to 18 learn skills and gain physical fitness through boxing from a former Olympic hopeful.

"The student will learn from the rudimentary to the advance stages of boxing through this self-paced program," said Lydell Spry, CYSS boxing instructor.

"They will learn boxing exercises, the basic stance and how to throw basic punches. They will also learn defensive and offensive skills as well. They will learn everything they need to know so they are able to have an intellectual conversation with someone else who knows boxing."

The class, although not widely known, has been around for about three years and continues to gain popularity.

"We have a lot of kids who come here who are introverts, who are shy and bashful. But they come here and become more confident and sure of themselves," Spry said. "We teach life skills here and we use the vehicle of boxing to teach those skills and make it more practical for the students and their parents."

For the parents and children who attend the academy, the thought of baseball, football or soccer camp, did not really appeal to them, so boxing seemed like something they wanted to try out.

"I like the heavy influence on paying attention, listening to directions and showing respect," said Suzanne Balvanz, mother of 9-year-old Adam, a student in the class. "And there is a lot of positive feedback from the coach as well. My son prefers sports that are not team oriented. He prefers to rely on his on physical prowess to succeed."

But with bullying such a prominent topic, the coach teaches that fighting and force should only be a final option when all other methods have failed.

"Learning to box alleviates the problem of bullying," Spry said. "I teach my students how to be a diplomat. Not to use force but to be able to talk their way out of situations or to talk with their teachers if there is a problem. My students know they have to be smart when it comes to dealing with bullies. They have the self-esteem and confidence and know that they don't have to fight, but they know how to if it comes down to it."

Besides seeing more students at his academy, the head instructor would like to see some important changes in his program so that he can boost attendance and popularity for the sport.

"I would like to see this program grow," he said, "not just in numbers, but by allowing the military community to be able to participate in this sport as a family, by allowing Soldiers and Airmen to be able to participate and compete together in boxing events with their kids and dependents."

After all the hard work and sweat, Spry just hopes that his students leave with a better understanding about who they are and what they can accomplish if they put their minds to it.

"I hope my students remember to be accountable, responsible and reliable - to be courteous and respectable, all the basic things that we all need to have so that we are able to be adults and to move forward in life."

For details, contact the Teen Zone at 966-3539.

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