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Making Champions: UCLA Women's Head Coaches on the Secrets of Their Success


Published Jul 1, 2012 8:00 AM

UCLA Magazine: We see the pressure that the male coaches get in football and basketball. Do you feel that same pressure to win a championship?


Softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez (top) and women's tennis coach Stella Sampras Webster

KIP: The pressure is just an expectation, and the expectation that we have of ourselves is greater than what anybody can put on us. ... The first thing [Senior Associate Athletic Director] Petrina [Long] said to me was, "It's going to take you five years, honey, to win a championship. It's not that easy." And I looked at her like, "Lady, I don't know who you are, but we win." (Laughter.) And that first year, I did a great job of being the first team to not even get past the first round.

In the bigger picture, our administrators are doing everything they can to push us, but also to support us, knowing that we—as females in Olympic sports that don't get the big bucks that football and men's basketball get—have our own expectations of what we're trying to get done.

CC: Once a week, I go down to the Hall of Fame. Everyone else looks at the 108 [championship trophies]. I look at the empty spot in the bottom right-hand corner. And the reality is that not only have I not won a national championship, but women's basketball has not won one since the AIAW [in 1978]. And some people look at that like, "Do you feel pressure to make that happen?" No, I'm inspired to make that happen. And there's a really big difference.

UCLA Magazine: Do you feel a certain kinship because you are female coaches? Do you socialize outside of work? All: We should!

KIP: Every time something big happens, [Head Women's Swim Coach] Cyndi Gallagher '83 gets everyone together. In 2010, gymnastics won [the NCAA championship], so we went into Westwood to celebrate. And I said, "You know what? I need to create a little tradition." So I went and bought a shot glass from the UCLA Store and said, "This is going to be the championship shot glass." (Laughter.) Whoever wins, the coach has to take a shot. ... I followed right after Miss Val and won a championship.

CF: I'm the current holder.

KIP: The point of it is, we're together. We've talked a lot about being able to use the network a little bit more within ourselves. ... There was a great deal of respect when [Carrie and Stella] had their kids, too. We could communicate about different things, and that doesn't mean it's just about kids.

CC: And someone like myself, who would love to have a family and kids, I'm watching that— OK, how do they do that? It's amazing. And just because that's not my journey right now, I can watch and learn.

CF: When I have a child on the phone or something comes up and I don't know what to do as a coach, I can always go to Kelly about juggling the family thing. It's nice to have that sense of camaraderie, even though we may not always get to spend time together outside of what we're doing.

KIP: If I really need something, I could go ask Stella or Carrie, and now Cori, because we share one thing in common: We're Bruins. We all understand our own world. ... You're not measured by the championships you win, but by the effort you put in making sure everyone understands how important and special it is to be a Bruin.