UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field has positioned her Bruins as one of the premier programs in collegiate gymnastics. Not only has she consistently recruited and coached some of the top talent in the world, but she has produced the results.
The Bruins won their first NCAA championship in 1997 under Kondos Field and won again in back-to-back seasons in both 2000-2001 and 2003-2004. In 2010, UCLA won its sixth NCAA title with a 24-for-24 performance in the Super Six. UCLA has remained the Leader of the Pac under Kondos Field's tenure, winning 12 conference titles, including the inaugural Pac-12 title in 2012, to go along with 16 NCAA Regional titles.
Kondos Field emphasizes a team concept, but her student-athletes have also found individual success, winning 25 NCAA individual titles during her years as head coach.
But even with all of her successes on the court, what gives Kondos Field most satisfaction is seeing her student-athletes succeed in all facets of their lives. Academics is a big part of that equation, and Kondos Field's teams regularly place members on the Conference All-Academic teams and Scholastic All-American squads and annually contend for the school's team GPA award.
With legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden as her role model and cherished friend, Kondos Field's coaching philosophy stresses balance and integrity.
"Growing up in the classical dance world, I spent the majority of my youth in a very disciplined environment," she said. "The reward was the self-satisfaction that came from the culmination of months of hard work in preparation for our performances and knowing I did my best to become the best I was capable of becoming. The reward wasn't monetary or about 'winning'; instead, it was being able to have pride in a job well done."
"In a sport as subjective as gymnastics, it's important to have an honest internal voice that knows when you've done your best even if your 'score' says you didn't 'win', and conversely knowing when you can push harder even if your 'score' says you are the 'champion'," she continued. "That inner voice, known as integrity, is vital in living life to its fullest and enjoying the journey in every aspect of life."
Kondos Field's professional journey has been a unique one. A former professional ballet dancer with the Sacramento Ballet, Capital City Ballet and Washington, D.C. Ballet, she initially got her start in gymnastics at Agilites in Carmichael, Calif. by playing the piano for floor exercise music. From there, she became a dance coach, and under the guidance of former University of Minnesota co-head coach Jim Stephenson, learned the fundamentals of the sport.
In 1983, she was hired to be UCLA's assistant coach and choreographer. While working under head coach Jerry Tomlinson, Kondos Field helped put UCLA Gymnastics on the map with their distinctive choreography and flair. The Bruins earned NCAA runner-up finishes in 1984 and 1989 and won six NCAA individual titles from 1987-89.
Kondos Field was appointed head coach of the Bruins in 1991 and brought in Scott Bull as her co-head coach. The duo earned West Region Co-Coach of the Year honors in 1993 and in 1994. As the sole head coach in 1995, she earned Pac-10 and West Region coaching honors and guided her team to first-place finishes at the Pac-10 and Regional Championships. Just one year later, she led the Bruins to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, and in 1997 she became just the fourth coach in NCAA history to win a national title.
Kondos Field's accomplishments did not go unnoticed. She was selected by her peers as the NACGC/W National Coach of the Year in 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2001. She was also named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1995, 2000 and 2003 and the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2012. In 2010, she was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
She is recognized as one of the top beam and floor choreographers in the sport. Under her guidance, UCLA has formed a reputation of having the most unique and artistic routines in the nation. Kondos Field has choreographed 16 NCAA championship routines on beam and floor, including an unprecedented three consecutive on floor from Kim Hamilton from 1987-89. She also earned the Choreography of the Year Award at the 2004 Canadian National Championships for Kate Richardson's floor exercise routine.
Kondos Field has also come to be recognized for her recruiting ability. Since becoming head coach, she has attracted to UCLA some of the top talent in the U.S. and abroad, including Olympic competitors Samantha Peszek, Jennifer Pinches, Mohini Bhardwaj, Kate Richardson, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Tasha Schwikert, Kristen Maloney, Jamie Dantzscher, Yvonne Tousek, Stella Umeh and Luisa Portocarrero; and World Championships competitors Lena Degteva, Doni Thompson, Leah Homma, Jeanette Antolin, Holly Murdock, Ashley Peckett, Marci Bernholtz, Lichelle Wong, Sydney Sawa, Mattie Larson, Christine Peng-Peng Lee and Danusia Francis.
More impressively, however, under Kondos Field's tutelage, many of these top recruits went on to compete at the elite level both during and after their collegiate careers. Anna Li made the U.S. Olympic team as an alternate in 2012, two years after finishing her senior season at UCLA. In the summer of 2010, Vanessa Zamarripa made the U.S. National Team with an eighth-place finish at her first U.S. Championships. In 2004, Kate Richardson became only the second female gymnast to compete at the Olympic Games as a collegiate athlete. She was joined in Athens by another Bruin, Mohini Bhardwaj, who captained the U.S. team to a team silver medal three years after her senior season at UCLA. Both Richardson and Bhardwaj qualified for the floor exercise finals, with Bhardwaj placing sixth and Richardson placing seventh with her Kondos Field-choreographed routine. In 1999, Kondos Field coached then-UCLA junior Heidi Moneymaker at her first USA Championships, and Moneymaker, Bhardwaj and Lena Degteva all represented UCLA at the 1999 World University Games.
A 1987 UCLA graduate in history, Kondos Field is also a freelance choreographer with extensive experience in the entertainment and gymnastics fields. She has helped to create, direct and choreograph Sea World's Summer Nights shows for the past 23 years, and her Riptide show won a national award for Best Overall Production: $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 or More at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) 2007 Big "E" Awards. In the summer of 1991, Kondos Field choreographed a summer acrobatic festival held in Lennestadt, Germany.
Kondos Field is married to former UCLA Associate Athletic Director Bobby Field.