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Valorie Kondos Field leads UCLA gymnastics into her final season – Daily News

Valorie Kondos Field leads UCLA gymnastics into her final season – Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Not often is Valorie Kondos Field booed in Pauley Pavilion. The seven-time nationwide championship-winning coach is understood extra for prompting cheers than eliciting jeers, however the followers instantly turned on her. They have been none too happy with her employees’s judging at December’s “Meet the Bruins” intrasquad meet and let their displeasure be recognized.

The followers showered the teaching employees with cheeky boos, however Miss Val, as she’s affectionately recognized, provided a retort.

“You can’t boo me,” Kondos Field stated to the world, “this is my last year!”

Everybody laughed.

“All right,” Kondos Field thought to herself, “this is fun,”

Three months after sobbing via her retirement speech to her group, Kondos Field is lastly previous the emotional part of what would be the final season of her illustrious teaching profession.

She’s able to rejoice now.

Retiring, however not slowing down

Greater than three many years after arriving at UCLA as a part-time choreographer with a full scholarship, Kondos Field nonetheless can’t perceive how a classically educated ballerina who has nonetheless by no means even accomplished a cartwheel turned a gymnastics legend.

When she graduated with honors from UCLA in 1987 with a historical past diploma, Kondos Field’s dream job was to be an envoy for america. She needed a job during which she might put on lovely ball robes.

She ended up as a seven-time NCAA champion, four-time nationwide coach of the yr, the Pac-12 gymnastics coach of the century and certainly one of simply two lively head coaches to be inducted into the UCLA Athletic Corridor of Fame.
UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field celebrates after the Bruins gained their seventh NCAA ladies’s gymnastics championship on April 21 in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson/The Related Press)

“I didn’t anticipate any of this,” she stated two weeks earlier than her final season was set to start.

Kondos Field’s teaching resume might not even be her most spectacular achievements when she’s lastly able to decelerate. She’s a breast most cancers survivor, public speaker and writer. Her first guide, “Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance,” was revealed in October. She needs to start out a category at UCLA on John Picket, considered one of her mentors. She is engaged on a manufacturing of an city Nutcracker, one other theater manufacturing referred to as “Trash,” which is concerning the setting, and a sequel to the gymnastics film “Full Out” that might be based mostly on former UCLA gymnast Peng-Peng Lee’s life with a parallel storyline of Kondos Field’s most cancers battle.

Kondos Field, 59, might even play herself within the film as a result of why the heck not?

“I have no fear of failure,” Kondos Field stated.

Her rising listing of aspirations led her to retire from teaching on the finish of this yr. She quietly made the choice two years in the past, when she signed her final multi-year contract, and began working towards her retirement speech final yr in her automotive. She by no means obtained by means of it with out tearing up. She would pull over as to not cry whereas driving.

The tears continued when she lastly stood in entrance of her staff at their annual preseason trainaway camp. She struggled for about 10 minutes, however Kondos Field stated it felt extra like an hour and a half of blubbering, sobbing and mumbling to herself: “Get a grip!”

She wrote a number of bullet factors to maintain her on monitor in the course of the speech, however the place Kondos Field ought to have written “This is going to be my last year as the head coach of UCLA gymnastics,” there have been simply quote marks and an enormous area.

“It was horrible,” Kondos Field stated.

However the falling tears have been additionally cathartic. Kondos Field felt a “100-pound weight come off my heart.”

“I’m so glad I (told them) because now I can have authentic relationships and dialogue with them versus having to hide something,” she stated.

Love, pleasure and championships

Earlier than her workforce disperses for the vacation break, Kondos Field hugs everybody in Yates Fitness center: coaches, trainers and gymnasts. She’s going to overlook these hugs probably the most.

“We start training at 7:45. By 7:50, I’ve had at least 20 hugs and ‘Good morning, Miss Val,’” Kondos Field stated. “That unconditional love, I can’t think of many other jobs where you get that.”

Many Bruins stated their 2018 nationwide championship, gained in dramatic style when Lee clinched the comeback victory with an ideal 10 on beam, got here from love: their love for one another, their coaches and the game.
UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field throughout follow at UCLA on Wednesday, Jan 2, 2019. (Photograph by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily NewsSCNG)

“There’s not a lot that separates the top teams,” Kondos Field stated. “The secret sauce is gratitude and love.”

Lee, who would have competed for Canada within the 2012 Olympics if not for a knee damage, stated final yr that doing gymnastics at UCLA after years of harsh coaching in elite gymnastics is “like freeing your soul.” With Kondos Field choreographing every step on flooring, down to each facial features and each sly wink, every gymnast’s character reveals itself.

Instantly, one of the best gymnasts on the earth turn out to be even higher, bolstered by a supportive group of teammates and coaches.

“Being around her every day, I’ve really learned that I can be whoever I really want to be,” stated junior Kyla Ross, the one feminine gymnast to ever win World, Olympic and NCAA titles. “I think all the girls feel that way so no one is ever scared to speak their mind or say what’s on their heart, which is why our team has such a great bond.”
UCLA’s Kyla Ross smiles after finishing her routine on the uneven parallel bars in the course of the NCAA school ladies’s gymnastics championships Friday, April 20, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photograph/Jeff Roberson)

The unbridled pleasure has helped UCLA construct a singular fashion recognized all through the game. Nobody performs just like the Bruins.

However some aren’t all the time wanting to clap alongside to the beat of the ground music.

After the Bruins completed fourth on the NCAA championship in 2017, a male coach who was additionally teaching within the Tremendous Six approached Kondos Field.

“He says, ‘I really think you would do better if you had less fun on floor,’” Kondos Field stated.

She has all the time welcomed criticism, so she paused and mirrored. Who has probably the most enjoyable on her staff? Perhaps Lee. The senior simply received her first good 10 on beam that meet. The second-most enjoyable? Perhaps Katelyn Ohashi. She acquired a 9.95 on beam.

“To be quite honest with you,” Kondos Field responded to her teaching counterpart, “the only people who had miserable meets are the ones that don’t allow themselves to have fun. So thank you for the comment and you do you and I’ll do me.”

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The subsequent yr, when the Bruins gained the championship, the coach approached Kondos Field once more.

“He goes, ‘OK, I’m a total jackass, I don’t know what I’m talking about, congratulations,’” Kondos Field stated with a smile. “And I said, ‘Thank you.’”

Subsequent up

The Bruins are coming off their seventh nationwide title. Pauley Pavilion is packed on meet days. UCLA was a part of ESPN’s first reside broadcast for a regular-season meet final yr when the Bruins hosted then-No. 1 Oklahoma in a meet to honor survivors of sexual assault.
Oklahoma sophomore Maggie Nichols, former UCLA gymnasts Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin and Mattie Larson and UCLA assistant coach Jordyn Wieber have been honored throughout a tribute to sexual abuse survivors on Feb. four, 2018 after UCLA’s meet towards Oklahoma at Pauley Pavilion.<br />(Photograph courtesy Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

This system is booming, however Kondos Field is able to step away utterly at season’s finish. It’s time for “new blood” within the management position.

“I am a steward of UCLA,” Kondos Field stated. “This program has been bestowed upon me and I used to be requested to do the easiest I might with it, and with that, I designed and crafted the model of UCLA gymnastics, and so whomever takes over, they should get that very same alternative to design and craft their model of UCLA gymnastics.

“And it’s really a fun, fun job and that person deserves to be able to do that outside of the shadow Miss Val.”

Though Ohashi might be graduating this yr, the senior whose Michael Jackson flooring routine went viral final yr stated her fast ideas about Kondos Field’s retirement have been concern for the way forward for this system.

Ohashi was one of many few individuals to know prematurely of Kondos Field’s determination. The previous American Cup champion came upon two years in the past and held on to the key. She simply realized the gravity of it this season when the announcement turned official.
UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi, left, Peng-Peng Lee, proper, and teammates rejoice after profitable the NCAA ladies’s gymnastics championship Saturday, April 21, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photograph/Jeff Roberson)

“I wonder how it’s going to be next year, but also knowing that all our coaches have had so many years under her wing, is really comforting,” Ohashi stated. “She’s such a motherly figure in everyone’s lives, so it’ll for sure be different.”

The top of an period approaches at UCLA, however the Bruins know one of the simplest ways to conclude this illustrious chapter: with a celebration and a trophy.

“I want to make sure that even though it feels like a yearlong celebration, we’re still striving for excellence and to position ourselves to win another national championship,” Kondos Field stated.
UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field throughout follow at UCLA on Wednesday, Jan 2, 2019. (Photograph by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily NewsSCNG)

UCLA gymnastics vs. Nebraska

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

The place: Pauley Pavilion

Watch/pay attention: ESPN2/


Valorie Kondos Field résumé

• 29 years as head coach

• 7 NCAA staff titles at UCLA

• Pac-12 gymnastics coach of the century

• four nationwide coach of the yr awards