LOS ANGELES — There might never have been a more impossible task than to think of the quintessential Valorie Kondos Field story, an anecdote to best describe the legendary head coach who will coach in her final home meet Saturday. Her gymnasts, past and present, rack their brains.
How can they possibly sum up the seven national titles, 37 years and countless life lessons?
“I’m so nervous,” said former UCLA gymnast Samantha Peszek, who likely never uttered those words during her illustrious gymnastics career that included a 2004 Olympic silver medal, two NCAA beam championships and an all-around title. “I want to do this meet and her justice.”
Peszek will call the meet on Pac-12 Networks as the Bruins face Utah State on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion and honor Kondos Field along with seniors Katelyn Ohashi, Macy Toronjo, Brielle Nguyen and Stella Savvidou.
UCLA gymnastics alumnae are flying from all over the world for this meet. The Den, UCLA’s student section, dedicated its Twitter profile photo and header to the retiring coach this week. UCLA hosted the largest crowd in its gymnastics history last week and expects another packed house Saturday.
The support reveals what Kondos Field has established. UCLA gymnastics is a unique powerhouse fueled with gratitude built on the foundation of interpersonal relationships.
On Saturday, the program hopes to be at its finest, displaying the lessons learned in a finale as grand as its head coach.
“All the love she gave to this team,” junior Pauline Tratz said, “I feel like it’s our time to give it back to her.”
This meet has been in the works for years as Kondos Field plotted her life after coaching. With aspirations that stretch well beyond gymnastics, she quietly made the decision to retire two years ago inspired by her successful fight over breast cancer.
“It just hit me that we all have an expiration date, but none of us know when it is,” Kondos Field said before the season.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in summer 2014 and continued coaching through a year of chemotherapy and surgeries. Because she was part of a special study, Kondos Field did not lose her brown hair that is always impeccably done during meets.
“She didn’t look any different,” said Peng-Peng Lee, who was in her third year with the team when Kondos Field underwent treatment, “but I remember her aura was different.”
Kondos Field’s energy …read more
Source:: Dailynews – News