Kondos' Korner
Weekly diary by Valorie Kondos Field, head coach for UCLA's women's gymnastics team.

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Note: With three NCAA titles in five years, UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field has positioned her Bruins as the premier program in collegiate gymnastics. Not only has she consistently recruited the top talent in the world, but she has produced the results. In the past six years alone, Kondos Field has led UCLA to three NCAA titles and one runner-up finish, five Regional titles and three Pac-10 championships.

Jan. 14, 2002

"Adversity often produces the unexpected opportunity.
Look for it.
Appreciate and utilize it."

Coach John Wooden

We opened our 2002 competition season on Friday in Florida at the Super Six Challenge, which included Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Penn. State and LSU. We then went to Athens, Georgia to compete on Sunday.

Quick re-cap:

On Friday, during warm-ups, Malia Jones, one of our all-around competitors, tweaked an ankle on vault, which kept her out of both competitions this weekend. During the Friday meet, freshman Christie Tedmon, hit a beautiful beam routine in her debut performance as a Bruin. Unfortunately, she punched the beam crooked on her round-off dismount, and broke four metatarsals on her left foot.

Enter team members who hadn't really thought they'd be competing this weekend.

I don't expect every one of our team members to be able to go into competition and hit 10.0 routines, nor do I expect everyone on our team to be able to get straight A's. I do, however, expect everyone on our team to reach her individual potential athletically and academically. I do expect everyone on our team to prepare to her best ability mentally, physically and emotionally and to be able to compete/perform at her best.

With those criteria set, we had a very successful weekend. We didn't outscore all of the other teams in either competition we competed in this weekend. However, we quickly learned what our team is made of, unlike last season, when we didn't meet adversity like this until late in the season, at our Pac-10 Championship.

This weekend, through each obstacle we encountered, our student-athletes remained poised, confident and competitive. We even had coaches and fans from other teams compliment us after each meet about these qualities (Comments a proud parent or coach always enjoys hearing).

Those of us who have been around for a while have hopefully learned that adversity doesn't necessarily develop one's character, but instead brings out one's true character. It is also through adversity that we get experience in dealing with the curve-ball situations in life. We get a chance to test our calm, our faith, our resolve.

I could not have been more impressed with our team and coaching and training staff this past weekend. When things didn't go as planned, we took a deep breath, re-focused and went about our business. No drama. No anxiety. No unknown.

Coach Wooden, we may not have looked for adversity this weekend, but we did appreciate and utilize it when it presented itself.

Our next two competitions should be very exciting; On Friday we compete at Fullerton, where every able team member will get a chance to compete. And on Sunday we'll be in Pauley Pavilion for our season home opener against Arizona State.