Between The Bars

Dec. 16, 2005

Every person has a team they feel they could only dream they could be part of. UCLA was my 'dream team'. UCLA had just won an NCAA Championship in 2004, and my good friend and teammate, Melissa Chan, encouraged me to contact Miss Val about joining the team as a 'walk-on'. The summer of 2004, I visited UCLA and met Miss Val for the first time. I spent time with her, and in that short time, my family and I fell in love with the idea of my being a Bruin and working with Miss Val.

In the fall of 2004, I had to make the toughest decision in my life. I received full scholarship offers from a few other universities, but my parents encouraged me to base my decision on coaches, teammates, academics, and, most of all, where I could find happiness and success in both academics and athletics. Whether or not there was a scholarship offer should not be the sole reason to choose a college and a team. My last recruiting trip was with UCLA, and it simply 'clicked' with the girls and the coaches. Miss Val understands that there is more to life than gymnastics and wants us to mature into self-confident and poised individuals inside and outside of the gym. Miss Val, a.k.a. 'Lady V', not only helps us to be elite athletes but also helps us mature as young women. It's important to her that we find success in our academics and in our developing careers. As for my teammates, they have become my sisters, and we are definitely in it together. I quickly realized the true meaning of 'there is no 'I' in TEAM' - we are no longer individuals but a united team.

In the short amount of time that I have been here, I have learned a lot about myself as an athlete, as a teammate, and as a person ... and my experience so far is only a modest taste of what is to come. As John Wooden says, 'Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.' We were all privileged to hear Coach Wooden recite this last week when we all spent the morning with Coach at his home. (That is another incredible experience to write about someday.)

I am truly honored to be a Bruin and to be a part of a team that possesses discipline, devotion, and determination. I can't wait for our season to start! Go Bruins!!!

Alyssa Kitasoe



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