Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coaching Success

Today I had the opportunity to hear a young UCLA coaching legend speak.

Valerie Kondos Field is in her 23rd year coaching the UCLA gymnastics team, though she was also an assistant coach for eight years before taking the reins. I have always admired Coach Val because she is famously not a gymnast; in fact, she was a ballerina when she applied to be the dance coach for UCLA's team in the 1980s.

Coach Val told all about her background and then told us about her connection with John Wooden. Also famously, the two coaches became close friends over the last two decades of John Wooden's life. My favorite anecdote she told was about a day when a reporter interviewed the coaches together and asked something about whether Coach Val would be the next John Wooden. Apparently Coach Wooden chuckled and said, "Why would she want to be the next John Wooden when she can be the best Valerie Kondos Field?" Oh, Coach.

The biggest aspect of Coach Val's speech that inspired me was her three tips for success for her athletes.

  1. Improve 1% every day.
  2. Ruthlessly attack your weaknesses.
  3. Observe without judgment. 
I love them all. And obviously Valerie Kondos Field knows a thing or two about success (six national championships and 12 conference championships, for example), so I'm inclined to listen to her advice. But I think that each of these ideas is one we can all learn from. To focus on improving just a little--instead of being overwhelmed by too much at once--seems doable for anyone. The second speaks for itself: know what your weaknesses are and be willing to do all it takes to improve upon them. Coach Val even admitted that her big weakness is motivating herself to work out (who would have thought?! It's tough for all of us, apparently). And the third is one I hadn't thought much about but that inspires me. To observe the world and people around us without passing judgment sounds difficult, and I can certainly improve there.

As for the original legend, Coach Wooden's definition of success (perhaps the most famous ever written) is:


That guy just rocks. (These photos are from a statue newly erected at UCLA in honor of our beloved Coach.)

We spent the rest of the day at a UCLA volunteer retreat for young alumni, always fun, and always an opportunity for me to take cheesy pictures.

When we got home around five, I forced myself to throw on a yoga video. At first I wasn't excited at all, but halfway through I felt great and managed to get through the whole 45 minutes. Honestly, I felt fantastic at the end; I really needed the stretch and core work that only yoga can give me.

And now...the moment you've all waited for: the winner of the Under Armour hoody giveaway! I loved reading about all your favorite fall things, by the way. But the winner is...

Lauren! (There were a few Laurens in the running, so please be sure it was your comment!) E-mail me at to claim your prize!


  1. Great review of the event. Love the 1% point!

  2. What a cool speech! I'll definitely have to keep a few of those tips in mind in the coming months / years... ;)

  3. What a cool thing to attend, I love the messages she gave. Have a good Sunday!

  4. Ahh I can't believe I won! Thank you, Julie! :) I e-mailed you yesterday about the giveaway, so just let me know what info you need. Thank you again!