Jan. 26, 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.
Linda (Yorba Linda, CA):
Kalie Baer just returned after a two year absence. She looks better than ever and seems happier. Can you tell us what changed?
Valorie Kondos Field: Two things changed. First, her body has finally gotten healthy; she has been dealing with a stress fracture in her shin for a long time. And secondly, she changed her attitude. She used to be one of those people who would get easily frustrated then just let in all build up into a massive ball of frustration. She now looks at life differently, she has an extremely strong Faith, and consequently sees the opportunities in her life differently than she has in the past. She is our most consistent team leader this year.
Jeff (Huntington Beach, CA): Does it bother you that basketball is playing in a huge arena in Orange County but you guys are stuck in the tiny gym? Seems sexist to me.
Valorie Kondos Field: Actually it doesn't bother me, as I was given the choice and chose to compete in the Wooden Center rather than in huge arenas around town. If there had been a slightly bigger arena on the west side of LA where the students could easily get to, that might have made sense, but to ask our fans to travel to the Honda Center, Sports Arena or Staples Center didn't seem wise.
Scott (West Hollywood, CA): Will any of the meets be televised this year? What do you think it will take to get more events televised?
Valorie Kondos Field: The Pac-12 Championships will be televised, as well as the NCAA Championships this year. And actually, a lot more meets will be televised in the future due to our new Pac-12 TV contract. Stay tuned.
Nathan (West Hollywood, CA): Gymnastics seems to be a very homophobic sport. Have any of your gymnasts, past or current, encountered this or had to deal with prejudice?
Valorie Kondos Field: No, I don't believe so. However, I'm constantly making a point to talk about tolerance and not judging others. To Observe without Judging is something that we talk about a lot. It's hard not to judge. I think we naturally judge all the time. We judge what someone's wearing, their hairstyle, their fitness level. It's OK to make an observation, but it's not OK to judge. The proverbial gray line is the hard part.
Emma (Boston, MA): A gymnastics blogger recently reported that you choreographed all of Stella Umeh's college routines. I thought she and her sister did all of them?
Valorie Kondos Field: Her sister Stacey did most of them. I may have done one or two. But Stella was such a natural dancer that all you'd have to do is put on the music, see what she comes up with, then clean it. I don't remember ever giving her exact choreography to do. She interpreted movement and music so beautifully.