It’s way more than getting a perfect 10 or doing a sky-high double layout for the coach and choreographer of the UCLA Gymnastics team, Valorie Kondos Field. The Greek American has been the head coach of the Bruins for 28 years.
But she has also been an inspiration to young women to find again the joy of competing that they had when they started gymnastics as kids. She has made it imaginable for them to share their joy with the world on a very huge stage.
Over the past 28 years, she has formed one of the best gymnastics teams in the U.S. Most importantly, one which is always setting new standards for beautiful and complex routines.
Becoming “Miss Val”
Valorie Kondos Field, also called “Miss Val”, grew up preparing to be a classical ballet dancer. Born into an artistic Greek American family, she breathed and lived dance. Valorie trained relentlessly and went on to perform as a professional ballerina with a number of ballet companies, such as the Washington, D.C. Ballet.
When UCLA needed a dance teacher for their gymnastics team, the 22-year-old professional dancer fit the bill impeccably. Also, coaching at UCLA gave her the opportunity to satisfy one of her personal goals. As she says on her website, officialmissval.com, “My dream was to go to UCLA, so when they flew me out for the interview and offered me a full scholarship in lieu of a salary, I thought I had hit the jackpot.”
But the strong-minded young dancer would put her learned discipline and respect into her career as a coach to become a living legend. She has led the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team to win seven NCAA Championships, many Pac-10 and Pac-12 Championships, and numerous individual champion titles and academic honors.
Also, Miss Val has picked up some special awards herself. She was voted the national and conference coach of the year four times. In 2010, she became the 2nd active coach ever to be inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.