I’ve been vaguely aware of NCAA gymnastics since high school, but I never went out of my way to watch a meet the same way I watched Elite or the Olympics. Since starting to listen to Gymcastic three years ago, I’ve become much more aware of college gymnastics. Combine that with Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian heading to UCLA after their Olympic experience, and you’ve got a brand-new UCLA gymnastics fan!
I went to my first college gymnastics meet ever (and only my third in-person meet ever – first one in 15 years!) earlier this year when UCLA came to Stanford in January. I got to see Kyla Ross perform near perfect bars (one of the only times she wouldn’t get a 10 this season!) about five feet in front of me. IT. WAS. AWESOME!
All that to say, I was intrigued by Miss Val’s book since this is her last season. I wasn’t expecting her to spill the tea (she’s too classy), but hoped for more than a few coaching platitudes. It’s a quick read and from it, I can tell that I would NOT have been a good fit for UCLA gymnastics (should that have been an option). But I can see why she has such a good relationship with her gymnasts and why so many former Elites flock to her program.
The biggest revelation to me was that Katelyn Ohashi was so fucked up by Elite gymnastics that during her freshman year she admitted out loud during a group activity that she didn’t want to be great. Given her level of success and her positive attitude as an upperclassman, it’s a testament to Miss Val and to Katelyn’s hard work that she’s overcome a lot of the past and learned to love the sport again. It was also interesting to me that apparently UCLA gymnastics practices are open to well-meaning fans that show up, which seems CRAZY, but good to know, I guess.
All in all, Miss Val and I have very different philosophies, but I can see the value in where she’s coming from.