Dec. 30, 2010
UCLA Gymnastics head coach Valorie Kondos Field will be answering your questions every Thursday over the course of the season. To submit questions for future Q&As, CLICK HERE.
This week's questions/answers:
Pippa (Sydney, Australia): I read that you were taught the artistic aspects of each event from Jim Stephenson. Can you share with us what he told you and how you apply it now?
Miss Val: I was 17 when I first worked for Jim. I was so amazed watching gymnastics up close, but I had no idea what I was looking at. Jim deciphered skills for me by talking about shapes, negative and positive space, and the different dynamics of movement necessary to accomplish each skill. I remember him using words that my dad would use to describe something, and because I knew what he was talking about, it made sense to me. (My dad's an artist so I grew up in the art and dance world, as opposed to the athletic world.)
Lauren (Great Britain): I love the variety of floor music that your team has. How do they choose their music?
Miss Val: I choose their music. Usually I get about 40 songs from Eric Larson, and then I choose the pieces for each athlete. The girls can come to me with a music suggestion, then I decide if it will work within our floor spectrum. My first consideration is that athletics is Entertainment, so each floor routine should be different.
Niko (Kalamata, Greece): When I heard that the head coach from UCLA was from Kalamata, I had to write you. We are all so proud of you here. I read your bio and see that you were a dancer. How did you get involved with gymnastics and would you consider coming to Greece to choreograph for our team? Many loves from all of us in Kalamata.
Miss Val: WOW! Yasou Niko! I was born in the States, my family is from Kalamata. I actually got involved with gymnastics by playing the piano for a gymnastic club's floor music. Before 1980, floor music could only be one instrument, and I started working for a gym club in 1976. I would set up two little microphones on our dining room chairs, make everyone in the house be quiet, and record floor music. From there, I couldn't seem to keep my big mouth shut, so I started cleaning up the gymnast's dance, and next thing I knew I was their dance coach and choreographer. Please e-mail me at the University, and we can discuss me coming back to Greece sometime. Xronia Polla.
Nina, San Jose, California: What does Utah gymnastics bring to the soon to be PAC-12. Will this help UCLA gymnastics or make it harder for us to evolve? Thank you.
Miss Val: I'm thrilled that Utah is joining our conference. Utah not only brings great competitive gymnastics year after year, but it also means we get Greg Marsden's mind at our conference coaches meetings. (Ha ha so much could be said on that topic. Greg is brilliant at so many things. It will be exciting. Especially when he gets super passionate about something. CAN'T WAIT!)
Three Amigos (Carmichael, Tucson, Boise): Congrats on returning the national championship back to Westwood where it belongs! The Amigos heard a rumor that the pre-meet tailgate parties outside Pauley are making a comeback this year? If so, what time do they start and how do Bruin fans get involved?
Miss Val: Hola, Three Amigos! Yes, you heard correctly. Starting 3 hours before the meet, our Bruin 10.0 Booster club will be tailgating outside Pauley by the Central Ticket Office. Please bring whatever you'd like to tailgate with and maybe some extra to share. We encourage all Bruin Fans as well as fans from opposing teams to come out and share in the fun. Jan. 9th PAC-10 Showcase!
Betsy (Providence, RI): Hi Miss Val, I'm curious as to what you think of the championships being at a neutral site this year. Also, what do you think of the changes to the structure and scoring for the championships that will take effect next year. Thanks, and best of luck for the season!!
Miss Val: I'm not really sure what to make of the Championship site this year. I know that other sports have their Championship at the same neutral site every year, and the fans seem to love it. If we were going to go to a permanent neutral site, I would suggest Dallas, TX. There are a plethora of gyms in the surrounding area. When VISA's were there a few years ago, I thought that fans really enjoyed the city, and it was easy to navigate. Plus, it might just encourage the University of Texas to start a gymnastics program.
NNL (San Marino): Coach Val, you know our expectation is high, what is your outlook for this coming season?
Miss Val: My outlook is that we will compete well, provide exciting gymnastics, and bring home some more Championships. My goal is for us to stay healthy, perform beautiful, powerful, entertaining gymnastics, and hit 24 for 24 routines at our Championship meets. We've got quite a bit of depth this year, so I anticipate shifting our line-up quite a bit the first part of the season.
Romeo (West Hollywood, CA): Miss Val, are there any girls who plan on adding an event to their repertoire this upcoming season? Also are there any new upgrades or awesome stand out skills that the girls intend on showcasing? Go Bruins! Here's to a healthy and successful season!
Miss Val: Hi Romeo, that's a great name! At the beginning of Fall we had all sorts of upgrades happening, especially on floor. Elyse, Monique, and Tauny all trained double layouts, and Aisha was hoping to compete a double Arabian to help save her ankles. All of those skills need another few months to be ready to compete safely, and I don't know if we'll get the training time needed to compete them this year. Monique will add her double layout full out on bars and open floor with a whip to immediate double pike. Brittani is competing a half in, half out bar dismount again. Lichelle is adding the half twist to her bar dismount, but it's about a month away from being flawless. Niki was doing a side aerial into a full twist off of beam which was fun and a bit original, but she doesn't get the "pop" on it like she does on a roundoff double twist. We might have her compete it a few times to see how she scores. Talia is opening floor with a full in, first time she's EVER done it on the floor. And Mizuki will probably compete a standing layout on beam. She's still having some shoulder soreness, so she's not doing her flight series that ends with the BHS straddle down. She needs another D element, so we're hoping she can compete the standing layout well. AND the most "awesome standout skill" will be Brittani's sky high piked full in on floor. It's spectacular. (* An interesting note on Brittani- she is in her 5th year of the nursing major, and this quarter she has to fulfill 36 hours a WEEK of clinics ... AND train, AND compete. She is truly remarkable.)
Margrette (Toronto): Miss Valorie, I admire your gymnasts very much and congratulate your team's accomplishments. Do you design the leotards they wear in competition?
Miss Val: I work closely with Candy Dengrove, the owner of Rebecca's Mom leotards. What usually happens is I send her some photos of fashion that I like, and she makes a mock-up leotard. Then we tweak tweak tweak until we're satisfied. Each leotard she makes us would cost a small fortune if we didn't have a sponsorship deal in place with her. Whew. Thank you, Candy!