Between The Bars
April 12, 2006
As I told my husband, not advancing to the next round is a very humbling experience. If I were Queen of the Gymnastics Universe, I would let every coach experience winning a National Championship in their home arena. That feeling was incredible in '04. If I were the Gymnastics Queen, I would also have every coach experience the frustration of not being able to get your team 'going' through an entire season because you really do learn a lot through the tough times. What's interesting is that as heartwrenching as this season has been, it's still been one of my most enjoyable as a coach - and that is purely due to the character and personalities of the student-athletes, coaches, and staff on our team. It's been a very tough but still a rewarding journey.
I remember first coming to UCLA in 1982 and hearing Mako Sakamoto, who was the coach of Peter Vidmar and Tim Daggett, say, 'A coach is only as good as his/her least-talented athlete.' I've remembered that all these years as I work to get our 7th, 8th, and 9th person in our lineup ready to compete each season. I've also heard Coach Wooden say many times when asked what it takes to 'win' championships, 'You can't win without talent, hard work, and a little luck.' We have the talent. Our team definitely isn't affraid of hard work. We may have been short on luck this year, but the enthusiasm with which our athletes approached each new challenge/bump in the road, was truly impressive and inspiring. Great athletes love the challenge. The greater the challenge, the more focused our athletes became. That's what made this season one I'll always remember with pride.
We are all looking forward to and quite sad about Kate's last meet. We're equally as excited for Kristina to compete in her first NCAA Championship. She is training the Yurchenko double twist and will hopefully be healthy enough to compete it. Tasha is a trooper. Her first comment was that she didn't want to go to NCAA's and take the place of someone who had been training two vaults. When we told her that's not how it works, that if she didn't go they wouldn't replace that spot, she got excited and said, 'Great, let's go in the gym and see if I can do a 1 1/2!'
Our hearts are still wrenching over our missed opportunity to be competing as a team next week. Actually, I hope it lingers for a long, long time. We can be upset with our team's final standings and still feel good about the things we did accomplish this year. We can have moments of unbridled frustration and still be excited and optimistic about our future.
I can feel the quiet thunder brewing in our athletes and coaching staff. Our future looks bright.
~ miss val