Feb. 9, 2012
UCLA Gymnastics coaches and team members will be answering your questions every Thursday over the course of the season. To submit questions for future Q&As, CLICK HERE.
Jenny (Eagle Rock):
Miss Val, UCLA had such an incredible meet on Sunday! Congratulations to you, the girls and the hard working staff. Aside from winning, I wanted to highlight another gold worthy performance from the meet - Lichelle Wong. Even though she was filling in for Olivia, we were so pleased to see that she did AA. She is such a beautiful gymnast to watch. When she landed the double pike mount on floor, she was on fire! She breathed life into the choreography and worked the crowd. Will we see Lichelle doing more all-around this year? We hope so!
Valorie Kondos Field: I hope so too. Lichelle has a quality to her gymnastics this is very unique and beautiful. It's so nice to see her really enjoying gymnastics. I feel that the "Gold Worthy" moment for her these past two weeks has been filling in for Aisha in our lead-off balance beam spot. FYI - Beware of playing Words with Friends with her. She's the Silent Assassin at that game.
Caitlin: As a Canadian and BIG UCLA fan, I love watching many of our former greats flourish as student-athletes at UCLA. Do you have a special relationship with Gymnastics Canada? Why do you think so many Canadian elites are attracted to UCLA? Whatever the link is, I'm so thrilled to see it continuing. Have a super season!
Valorie Kondos Field: We have had tremendous success with almost all of our Canadian Bruins. Whenever I'm recruiting one of your finest I always ask "Why UCLA?"... their answers are always along the same vein: "UCLA's academic reputation is respected worldwide, and a lot of great Canadian gymnasts have had great experiences at UCLA."
Ruben (Daly City, CA): What percentage of your job is counseling, and what percentage is coaching?
Valorie Kondos Field: I read one time that people only need coaches to help them do the things that they can't do by themselves. When I thought about that, it was clear to me that coaching is finding a way to motivate change, whether it's a physically technical change or a mental or emotional change. I feel that the majority of my work with our student-athletes is counseling, but even when I'm working with someone to get their legs straight on a back handspring on beam, there is always a mental and emotional component to the teaching. With that being said, my office is always open to our student-athletes to stop by and chat whenever they'd like to, and Chris has said that one big reason for our success is due to the "10,000 hours of Miss Val time" that our student-athletes get.
Erkki, Los Angeles, CA: Miss Val, Coach Wooden always looked at Paul Westphal as the recruit that "got away" (he went to USC). Who is your Paul Westphal?
Valorie Kondos Field: Kristina Baskett.
Jordan (Phoenix): I'd like to know if you've ever had an athlete with a bad attitude. If so, how would you deal with it? Have you ever had to kick an athlete out of the gym? Inquisitively yours, Jordan
Valorie Kondos Field: Absolutely, we've had bad attitude issues. I've blurred the lines over the years by wanting to give the student-athlete a voice to explain herself, and by trying to work with her to work through the issues instead of just kicking her out of the gym every time an issue arises. I have no problem kicking an athlete out of the gym, but I don't feel that it resolves anything. We give our athletes three "personal days" a quarter to use for whatever reason they want. They cannot take a personal day when we have team meetings or intrasquads, but for anything else all they have to do is let me or our trainer know so we don't worry about why they're not in gym. Normally, if someone is having a bad day and getting a bad attitude because of it, I just tell them to leave and take a PD. They hate that because that's one of their three precious PD's that is gone.