UCLA Diving, Gymnastics Opens Doors For Youngsters

Dec. 8, 2000

This fall, two UCLA teams opened their practice doors to students, teachers and parents from the UCLA Child Care group. This energetic group of four and five year-olds had been learning about different countries and cultures by watching the 2000 Summer Olympics. The group wanted to wrap-up the lesson with excursions to various UCLA team practices to help bring the experience home to these young students.

On October 20, head coach Tom Stebbins and members of the women's diving team welcomed the group to the Sunset Canyon Recreation pool. While Stebbins talked to the group, the athletes went through a normal warm up and gradually moved into more complex dives.

"It was a great day," said Stebbins. "The children's raw enthusiasm helped to remind both my athletes and me about why we do what we do. We all enjoyed their company and we hope they all came away with a sense of just how difficult and thrilling it must be to achieve at a level such as the Olympic Games. You never know, there may be some future Olympians in that group."

On December 8, the group ventured to the John Wooden Center to watch the 2000 NCAA Championship women's gymnastics team practice. After a question and answer session with assistant coach Randy Lane and 2000 Olympian Alyssa Beckerman, the group watched as the team worked through a warm-up on the floor exercise and then broke to begin practice on the individual events.

One parent commented, "The children were very happy and truly enjoyed the experience. All of the UCLA student-athletes and coaches that we have meet through these two visits have been wonderful. The children are involved in a weekly tumbling program, so I think they really appreciated the chance to watch these athletes up close. It's been great that they had the opportunity to not only study some of the best athletes in the world, but also to meet some that live right here in LA."

For more information about the UCLA Child Care group, please visit their website at www.childcare.ucla.edu.

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