Many, many people have been vocal about USA Gymnastics needing a culture change. BUT all of these individuals calling for change have not stepped forward and outlined what this change exactly should be.
There has been one person, who has been loud and clear on what this culture change should be.
Val Kondos-Field (Miss Val), Head Coach of the UCLA Bruins Women’s Gymnastics team.
Her philosophies on coaching and working with young athletes NEEDS to be the standard in gymnastics and all other sports.
“Since 1982 I have coached 46 former U.S. National team members, and have garnered the trust of countless more. I have witnessed the physical and emotional pain these athletes have struggled with after their elite careers ended and they became collegiate athletes.” states Kondos in an article she wrote called “Times Up USAG“.
Miss Val has been able to work with these broken athletes and has been able to build them back up to champion student athletes.
Her success of rebuilding athletes and coaching with respect and dignity is proven in her track record as a coach.
Under Miss Val’s coaching, the UCLA Bruins have won 14 PAC-12 Conference Championships, 19 Regional Championships, and 7 National Championships. This does not include the thousands of individual medals won by her athletes.
In addition, she has been named the PAC-12 women’s gymnastics coach of the century!
In an article Miss Val wrote called, “Gymnastics: The Ultimate Master Class“, she explains why parents should put their kids in gymnastics;
I have been asked many times, “Why would parents put their kids in gymnastics now?” The answer is crystal clear. Gymnastics is not the culprit. Gymnastics is a master class on life skills. Gymnastics teaches discipline, focus, and attention to detail. Gymnastics hones courage to face fear head on. Gymnastics teaches the importance of thorough preparation. Gymnastics teaches perseverance, as there’s no one to pass the ball to when things get tough. Gymnastics demands that one learns how to finish. Gymnastics teaches one to dare to dream as none of the skills learned in gymnastics are innate in us. Gymnastics is the perfect combination of athletics and performance.
Miss Val believes that the US can continue to dominate and be the world’s best without verbally, physically, and emotionally abusing our athletes.
She goes on to state;
I am so excited for our future. The veil has been lifted. We are finally coming into a new era where our youth can expect to be coached with discipline, civility, and respect. They deserve to earn the benefits and joy of our beautiful sport without the trauma. Parents can feel empowered that they have an outlet to voice their concerns—and if your concerns aren’t being met or responded to I recommend seeking another gym—this country is packed with outstanding coaches and facilities.
The culture of abuse, Miss Val believes, has trickled its way down from those who have run our National Team down to our club coaches who believed that this abusive behavior is what creates champions.
Miss Val states, “I knew the system was broken because I, like many other college coaches, have been picking up the pieces for decades. My response was to unearth the strength within these amazing humans after it had been suppressed and buried for so long.”
In an interview with Dateline NBC, Miss Val explains her successful coaching style!
In the Dateline interview they mentioned the theory of “No Pain, No Gain” theory of coaching in the US gymnastics system.
There has been a pain, but at what cost? The physical and mental well being of our athletes!
What if we don’t always win? I asked Miss Val what coaches and USA Gymnastics could learn from that.
She responded, “A heck of a lot more than winning does. When you don’t win it forces you to assess, strategize how to have different results, and make changes to accomplish your goals. When all you do is WIN, it doesn’t encourage growth…”
USA Gymnastics needs to partner with and/or hire Kondos to lecture at anyone of the following; State Clinics, Regional or National Congress, and have her speak at anyone of the many State, Regional and National Training Camps it holds.
I asked Miss Val if she would work for or with USA Gymnastics and she responded, “Absolutely. I’m not interested in a full time position, but consulting might work.”
I have worked with Miss Val at a dance clinic I co-hosted with SET-10 at More Than Gymnastics in Fort Wayne, IN.
I was able to see first hand the exceptional individual & coach Miss Val is. She was able to pull out the best from each athlete without any of the harsh coaching tactics seen in our sport.
She is the culture change that USA Gymnastics NEEDS!!