Between The Bars

Feb. 18, 2006

Unsung Heroes ~

In the world of athletics, it isn't often that coaches and a team can feel exhuberant and excited after 'losing' a competition. Friday night at Georgia, we competed the entire depth of our roster. It was AWESOME! Last week our competition line-up took on significant changes in a few short days. Melissa Chan severely strained her calf muscle last Sunday, so there were four spots we needed to fill for our two upcoming meets this weekend. Then on Wednesday, Kate's nagging tricep pain opened up four more spots to fill.

As a coach, when you have athletes that all of a sudden aren't cleared to compete, you literally take a deep breath, take a nice long look at your ever-increasing short roster, and start filling in the necessary competitive spots ... if you can. The picture never looks quite the same as it did before your athletes got injured, but it's vital to be able to see 'success' with the new line-up of athletes. It didn't take long before I started to get excited for our athletes who would be filling in. I felt the opportunity they would have in competing this weekend could be the turning point in their competitive careers.

It was so exciting to have Michelle Selesky, Alyssa Kitasoe, Janelle Dantzscher, and Jalynne Dantzscher, all who haven't competed much on some of these events, come up to me and say 'Miss Val - I'm ready. I'm ready to compete hard, and I'm confident I can hit.' ... and they did! We weren't perfect, but their commitment to our goal never wavered.

Our goal remained the same as it always is, to compete with confidence and aggressiveness. To keep our focus on ourselves. Enjoy the entire event, one moment at a time. And to remain supportive and in tune with each other the entire evening. WE HAD A BLAST! Our team members felt so honored to be representing UCLA competing in Georgia, against the top-ranked team in the country, in front of a huge crowd, and miles away from their injured teammates (who remained at home to get as much healing time and rehab attention as possible). The energy of our team last night was more exciting and synergetic than any other meet we've experienced together this season.

On the flight home, I was thinking that as their coach, my wish for each of them in competition is to be able to feel confident knowing they have trained to the best of their ability, and that confidence gained through thorough preparation will allow them to perform in front of thousands of people and shine. It also allows them to shift the focus from being solely on themselves, to being able to support and truly enjoy their teammates. In thinking through each of our eight competitors last night, and how they competed, I couldn't be more happy for them. Along with the four I mentioned above, Kristina, Ari, Jordan, and Ashley were all solid in their focus, performances, and energy.

I also want to say how much all of us Bruins appreciated the support of the Georgia fans. Not only were you appreciative of the great gymnastics we did, but you also showed you understood and appreciated the effort that went into some of our gymnastics that wasn't so great.

And to ALL of our Bruin fans that made the trip - Wasn't that FUN?! Thanks for making the trip with us!

Proud to be a Bruin

~ 'miss val'



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