Between The Bars

Dec. 13, 2005

Dedication, determination and following my dream has always been my motto! When I was three years old, I used to jump, dance and flip on our blue couches. That is how it all began with my first coach Melanie Ruggiero. I started competing at the age seven in Level 7 then moved my way immediately to Level 10 and Elite. Nine years later, I won my first gold medal on the vault at the USA International Jr. Nationals. Four years later, I would make history by being the first female gymnast to win the Junior Olympic National Championships three years in a row.

When I was a junior in high school, I made an unofficial visit to UCLA. I visited the UCLA campus and met Miss Val, and I KNEW that this is where I wanted to be. My family and I came to see the UCLA vs. Stanford meet, the crowd was roaring U...C...L....A.... UCLA... Fight, Fight,Fight!!! The girls were focused, the choreography stupendous, and the way the coaches talked to each of the girls was unlike any other team. The coaches made the girls feel at ease, giving them corrections and telling them that they just need to give 100% effort. UCLA has the perfect blend for the next step in my life. I knew UCLA could help me continue to grow in my gymnastics and school, and help me become more independent.

On my way home from watching the UCLA competition and after meeting the girls, I knew that UCLA was where I wanted to be. When Miss Val offered me a scholarship, it was a dream come true. I am so honored to be a part of this new family.

Since I have been here, I've experienced first-hand just how awesome it is to be a part of something truly great. Miss Val, Chris and Marshall care about our lives outside the gym as much as our gymnastics. It is hard at times to be consistent in living up to such high standards in every aspect of my life every day, but it is an amazing feeling at the end of the day to look back and see what I've accomplished.

When asked how I would describe our team, I would say 'Power, Passion and Personality!!!' That's what we, UCLA Bruin Gymnasts, are - powerful gymnasts with the passion for gymnastics who all have unique personalities. You are going to see it soon! I can't wait for season to start. I'm truly jazzed about my floor routine. It's sooooo different than anything I've ever done before. I just love it and can't wait to show it off! I have a new series on beam that is awesome, and I feel very confident on all the events thanks to Miss Val, Chris, Marshall, Lindsey, Ashley, and Jen!

I have met so many wonderful people here that are great inspirations to me. All my teammates have helped the freshmen learn all the ropes of the school and make sure that we are all taken care of. In the short time we have known each other, we have become family to one another and can count on one another.

The most touching part about being a part of this team is that Miss Val, Chris and Marshall are not only great coaches, but they help all of us discover who we really are and who we want to grow up to be.

I'm looking forward to my first collegiate gymnastics season, and I am fired up to help UCLA win another NCAA Championship!

Melissa Chan

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