It's so nice to be able to walk away from an experience and feel that something important has been learned.
We competed in Tempe, AZ on Friday against the ASU Sun Devils. We lost the competition, 196.35-196.00, and therefore dashed our hopes of going undefeated this season. However, it was a tremendous personal coaching experience; one that tested my resolve to do what is right. It was as equally telling for our athletes.
I believe that "winning at any cost" is tragic and destroys life lessons.
I believe that holding true to one's word is vital in developing healthy and lasting relationships.
I believe that athletics (to those who follow it) is about bragging rights and often cares very little about the bigger lessons that it can offer.
I often tell our athletes, it is easy to hit a great routine when everything falls into place and they happen to find themselves in the "zone". However, I'm much more interested in seeing how an athlete handles a situation where they've had a mistake early on in the routine or how they compete knowing that the teammate ahead of them had a fall.
It is often said that we learn and grow the most through adversity. I believe that it is during adversity that our true character comes out.
Having said that, it was such a satisfying feeling to know that I could have made different coaching decisions that would have insured a "win" Friday night, but instead, I chose to stick with our original game plan. In particular, I chose not to change our line-up when the score got close. It was extremely rewarding watching athletes who don't see a lot of competition time compete as a Bruin with the same pride, enthusiasm and fight as our athletes who compete a lot. It was heart-warming to see our "guns" cheering on and supporting their fellow teammates. And it was good to see our team realize that we "lost" the meet because of mental mistakes a few of our "guns" made and not because we weren't competing our top line-up.
While I anticipate our successes being many this season, I hope among them is the maturity and humility of our team - the ability to feel confident and vital to our program regardless of how much you're competing and the realization that if you're fortunate to be competing a lot, you must appreciate your teammate who is standing on the sidelines giving you all the support she can.
- Valorie Kondos Field