Between The Bars

Nov. 27, 2006

The calm before the storm ~

The last few weeks heading into the holidays had been a consistent road of perseverance, discipline and focus for our athletes. However, it's also been an emotional road. We've actually encountered a lot of frustration the last few weeks.

In trying to work through their frustrations, we figured that our athletes were simply physically and mentally tired, mid-terms hit, we were starting to train full routines, and they were just going through a slump. Once we had a team meeting to help them open up about why quite a few of them were so frustrated in the gym, a clear and decisive theme appeared. They were literally being weighed down by the pressure they were putting on themselves. That pressure stemmed from wanting 'it' so badly - the 'it' being the desire to burst back into the national championship scene starting with our first competition on January 6th. Every team member had been shouldering the personal responsibility of making this 2007 season one of the best in UCLA history.

Isn't it awesome how one can always rely on 'communication' as a great way of clearing the path toward one's goals? Once we talked it out, the heavy veil and burden was lifted, and once again our workouts became positive, energy-filled fun times, replete with amazing gymnastics. All of a sudden, the skills that our athletes were falling just a tad bit short on became no problem for them - Jordan's double Arabian, Jenkins' whip double Arabian, Ariana's half in half out, Brittani McCullough's 1 1/2 and double-twisting Yurchenko. Natalie Padilla has gotten a double pike in her floor routine for the first time. Janelle's double front is back in on floor, and her beam routine is close to 100%. And the BIGGEST news of all is that Michelle Selesky learned a back-handspring layout on beam - a first for her. It is strong, super high and with great form. She took away the safety mats under the beam last week, and she's hitting about 95%. She's also learned a Yurchenko layout half, and a double layout on floor. These past few days of training have been the ol' popcorn adage... every time I'd look at another event, our athletes were successfully completing skills for the first time in their collegiate careers. Chris, Marshall and I kept looking at each other with renewed promise of an amazing season.

On the 'What's Bruwin' news front:

Kristina Comforte is well on the mend from her ankle and shoulder surgeries this summer. She's still not cleared to put pressure on her arm, but she is in amazing athletic condition and is biting at the bit to be able to compete a few events at the start of our season.

Anna Li had surgery on a torn labrum in her hip. Once inside, our doctors saw that the tear was far less than it appeared on the MRI. Anna was walking that evening. She is progressing slowly and will hopefully be back on two events for the start of our season.

Quite sadly, Brittani McCullough was in an automobile accident this past Wednesday. Her car was totaled, but, thanks be to God and the invention of airbags, she came out of it with only a bruised sternum and a rather deep gash on her ankle. She will miss our intra-squad this Friday but will hopefully be back in full swing for the start of our season.

Maranda Smith has decided to withdraw from the academic quarter. We all hope that she will be joining us again in the near future.

Jalynne Dantzscher is working through the first month of her injury retirement well. She is working with our sports information department, and from what I've been told, is doing an amazing and thorough job for them.

And, our choreographer is finally ALMOST finished with floor and beam routines. How can it actually take her 2 full hours to choreograph 16 counts? Either she's rather slow (which I can say because 'she' is 'me'), or she's gotten a bit more choreographically complex, and the routines will show the fruits of her labor. We'll see.

I hope you are all enjoying a heartwarming holiday season. The past few months I keep reminding myself of something that Mother Teresa said, 'We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.' That is my goal every day in working with our athletes.

Each day, small things, with great love.

~ miss val



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