The gymnastics team did well today and are still in the running for the national title and for some reason I remembered this story from UCLA Magazine. It's four years old, but I still like it. It is about how John Wooden and Valerie Kondos Field are good friends and how she uses many of his coaching techniques.
It's a good story, worth your time if you are into that sort of thing. For some reason, this might be my favorite part:
Q: Let's talk about academics. Earlier, you said that the women’s gymnastics team had lost the top GPA title and was determined to get it back.
VKF: Well, what happened was we found out over the summer that women’s tennis had earned the highest team GPA last year. And our team was as feisty about getting it back as it was about winning another national championship.
JW: And that pleased you.
VKF: Very much so. I was chuckling inside, because they were saying, “All right, freshmen, this is how you do it! You have to talk to your professors. You have to meet with your TAs. And this is how you study.” And I found out when we came back in September that one of my athletes, Ashley Peckett, got a C in physics, and she knew it wasn’t the right grade. She had been trying to reach the professor all summer and hadn’t been able to do it. He finally got back to her when the quarter started in September and he apologized. He said, “I gave you the wrong grade. You actually got an A+.” And I didn’t want to tell them because that meant they really did have the highest team GPA again, and I didn’t want to stifle their enthusiasm and competitiveness! But in all fairness, I told them.
JW: Academics are extremely important. I tried to plan the academic program. If you let the students do it for themselves, many of them will take the easy courses, so to speak. And by the time they reach the upper division, they’ve got to take several more difficult courses the same term, and that’s not easy. I don’t know whether Valorie would agree with me on this, but I do believe that in her sport, there’s so much discipline in doing the things they do, her girls are probably a little more disciplined than their peers.
For some reason, I just think that's really cool, how the gymnastics team really cares about having the highest GPA on campus. They are serious about it -- it's not just rhetoric. I don't know anything about gymnastics and don't have a daughter and don't really follow the sport. I only get interested in the Bruin gymnastics team when they are in the finals or if someone posts something about them. But -- really -- they are a cool team year in and year out. If, as Bruins, we're allowed to take pride in the accomplishments of other Bruins even if we really aren't that close to what they're doing, then I take pride in the UCLA gymnastics team -- and that has nothing to do with whether or not they win the title. (That said: Go Bruins -- good luck the rest of the weekend.)