How did this dancer transform herself into one of the most successful gymnastics coaches ever?
I picked up Coach Wooden’s book, “They Call Me Coach”, and it didn’t seem like all this other coach talk I’d heard. It was complete with plenty of tough love, but honest love. Discipline and compassion. I was raised in the ballet world and there was a lot of discipline in my life.
“I was brought by a very typical Greek family, where a family was vital, so there was plenty of discipline with respect. And I think that the discipline, united with the love that came out of Coach’s words, struck home with me. It’s about instilling life’s lessons through the sport that we’re a part of.”
When Miss Val isn’t encouraging young athletes to be the best they can be, she is utilizing other platforms to distribute her love for life and dance. Lately, she pitched her own kind of a contemporary nutcracker ballet to Warner Bros. NBC purchased the rights to air it as a two-hour television special. The date for the live ballet show has yet to be decided.
in October 2018, she also published a book that explored how a professional ballerina became one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history. The novel is titled “Life Is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance.”
The Greek American also stated her retirement last September as the head coach of the Bruins gymnastics team and she did leave at the end of the 2019 season with an incredible send-off by her team and UCLA.
Although Miss Val will be truly missed, her legend will live on. She will continue to be an incredible inspiration, encouraging people to live passionately by not giving up and finding a way to re-experience your joy.
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.