Happy Thanksgiving from UCLA Athletics

UCLA student-athletes, staff, administrators and coaches share what they are thankful for this year.

Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women's Administrator Petrina Long: “I am very thankful for my family, starting with my dear mother and father, who valued education and who taught me most of the things that I hold most dear … my own husband and children who have brought the greatest joy to my life … I am really thankful to be here at UCLA: I am product of the UC system and California public schools, and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to serve the people of the state. I have worked at three different UC’s for a total of 25 years and have had the incredible opportunity and good fortune to be able touch thousands of young people’s lives.”

Director of Track and Field Mike Maynard: "Thanksgiving is important to me because it offers us a time to reflect and share the blessings we have with our family and friends. The simple process of thankfulness focuses our attention on what we have, rather than what we do not. And by doing this it allows us to continue to walk in a state of grace and to receive unmerited favor in our lives. I am thankful most of all for grace."

Senior Associate Athletic Director Mark Harlan: "I am thankful and grateful for my wife Carolyn and children, Savanna and Austin, whose support allows me to work in a job that I am so passionate about. And is there anything better to be thankful for than my 5 year-old saying after the USC game, 'Dada, we kicked their butts'?"

Softball player Stephany LaRosa: “I am most thankful for my family, not just my parents and siblings, but the family I have gained here at UCLA. I am thankful for the opportunities UCLA has given me, the great friends I have made, life lessons I have learned, and the tremendous opportunities I never would never have had if I wasn't a Bruin.”

Associate Athletic Director of Academic & Student Services Christina Rivera: “With a full heart, I am extremely grateful and appreciative for the relentless and unwavering love, support and compassion my family and friends have provided me over the last year. I am equally thankful for my UCLA family (coaches, colleagues and student-athletes) who inspire me each day to be my best.”

Head Men’s Water Polo Coach Adam Wright: “I am thankful for having a great family that understands the demands of my job … That I have had the opportunity to compete for our country (at the Olympics), including the fact that UCLA and Dan Guerrero gave me the opportunity to do so while I am coaching here. There is nothing better than being back at the school that I played for and having the chance to lead our men’s program.”

Men’s Basketball Player Larry Drew II: “I am thankful for the opportunity to be back at home and to be a part of the 2012-13 men’s basketball team.”

Assistant Director of Executive Relations Will Gulley: “I'm thankful for times of struggle and pain. Through them, I've learned (and am continuing to learn) patience; through patience, experience; and experience, hope.”

Head Women’s Soccer Coach B.J. Snow: “As Thanksgiving approaches, I always try and take time to reflect on the many blessings we all have. I am so thankful for my wife and my newborn son. They make me the luckiest person on earth. Family is a huge part of what makes me so thankful, and I am lucky enough to have such a great family at home and at work. I pinch myself everyday for the tremendous opportunity I have to work with such amazing people on our staff and in the athletic department. Coaching is my passion, but the relationships I have formed working in this department is what fuels that passion. “

Head Football Coach Jim Mora: “I am thankful for the love of my family and for the gracious hospitality that the Bruin family has shown all of us since we arrived here last year.”

Women’s tennis player Courtney Dolehide: “Coming from Chicago, I am so thankful to feel the love from my Bruin Family, especially since I am far from my own relatives. John Wooden has paved the way for such an inspiring environment to learn and enjoy success. I couldn't be prouder to compete for this university and call myself a Bruin.”

Associate Athletic Director for Development Josh Rebholz: "Of course I'm thankful for my family, my friends and my health, but as someone who celebrates and honors all that intercollegiate athletics stands for, I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to be able to represent the same university that the likes of John Wooden, Jackie Robinson, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee represent. UCLA is the Mecca of intercollegiate athletics, and every day I am blessed to be able to say that I am a Bruin."

Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach Valorie Kondos Field: "I am thankful for everything! From the moment I wake up, I give thanks that I get to enjoy a new day. That I can get out of bed by myself. I am thankful that I have food, as much and as often as I’d like. That I live in a country that allows me the freedoms I enjoy … that I get to work in an environment that is filled with really cool people. That I actually get paid for what I do because I love it so much.”

Assistant Marketing Director Jamie Arneson: “I’m thankful for getting to be a part of such an exciting time here at UCLA. Going to work is both challenging and inspiring every day. I’m also thankful for the pumpkin pie that my mom makes, of which I plan to eat copious amounts on Thursday.”

Men’s golfer Manav Shav: “This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be surrounded by great people and that all of us have the opportunity to chase our dreams!”

Assistant Athletic Director – Compliance Dan Goldberg: “I’m thankful that as a young boy I went to my first basketball game at Pauley Pavilion in its 5th year, and very thankful to have been in attendance for the first game in New Pauley 43 years later.”

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ben Howland: “I’m thankful for so many things … number one, I’m thankful for God. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my wife and our children, Adam and Meredith, and for my daughter-in-law Brittney, and our newborn grandson, little Benjamin, and for my mom and our extended family and brothers and sisters. I’m thankful for our basketball team and to have the opportunity to be the coach at UCLA. I’ve had so many blessings in my life to be thankful for.”

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Cori Close: “I’m really thankful to have a job that I don’t see as a job, because I love what I do … I get to work doing what I already love, and that is to use basketball to teach and mentor young people for life after basketball. I’m also thankful that I get to share it with a greater community and that we all realize that it is bigger than any of us individually. It is about representing this amazing university and this amazing athletic department, and to know that I get to share them with a group of passionate Bruins is really special.”

Head Men’s Volleyball Coach John Speraw: "I am thankful for the opportunity to be back home (at UCLA)."

Head Swimming and Diving Coach Cyndi Gallagher: I am thankful for my family who I speak with every day, and also my Bruin Family who I see every day. I am thankful for being able to coach a group of women who are smart, hard-working, goal-oriented and kind. They inspire me to be a better coach. I am thankful for the support from my amazing coaching staff and from the people in the athletic department. It is an honor to work in an environment where there is one common goal, and that is to be the best you can be in everything you do. For over 30 years I have been learning, swimming and coaching at UCLA. And for that, I am extremely grateful.”

Women’s Volleyball player Rachael Kidder: “I am thankful for my teammates and coaches for making my UCLA experience unforgettable. I am thankful for my family and the unconditional love and support they have given me over the years. I am thankful for the brave men and women fighting to protect the freedoms of the United States of America. And I am thankful for the Lord for making all of these things possible."

Baseball player Adam Plutko: “The holidays are a time to be particularly thankful, and I wanted to share several things that I am thankful for this season. First of all, although my uncle who lives in Howard Beach, New York lost everything due to Hurricane Sandy, I am thankful that he was not physically harmed during the storm. I am also thankful for the physical health I have been granted and that I get to celebrate this Thanksgiving with my family and with my girlfriend. Lastly, looking ahead to this holiday season… I am thankful to be a Bruin!”

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero: “First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family, especially my beautiful wife and two daughters. They give me the strength and inspiration to be the best that I can be every day. I’m thankful for UCLA. I’m thankful that I was provided the chance in the fall of 1969 to attend college, the first in my immediate family to do so, which opened up a world of opportunities for me that I could never have imagined possible. Three decades later, I’m thankful that UCLA saw fit to allow me to come back to Westwood and lead the same program that gave me my wings. I’m thankful every day that I can walk onto our campus and work with a wonderful group of colleagues to benefit the lives of our 600-plus student-athletes. I'm thankful that I continue to learn from these colleagues, the outstanding coaches and staff that work here, as well as the administration and faculty that make our campus the best in class ... world-class. And finally, I’m thankful for our fans and supporters who make our entire athletic program possible. Without them, we would not be able to provide the resources necessary to help our young men and women accomplish their dreams.”