Field of Dreams
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be sure, winning is wonderful, and few schools can approach
UCLA’s athletic achievements. In fact, with 90 NCAA team championships
as of this May — 67 men’s and 23 women’s —
UCLA has won more national titles than any other school in the nation.
The joy of winning was clearly evident on the faces of Kondos Field’s
gymnasts when they earned their most recent NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Championship April 25 before a packed arena in Lincoln, Neb.
jubilation, that celebration was simply because we did it, we completed
the plan. We worked hard and we competed well. The win,” she
says, “was icing on the cake.”
perhaps, but in and of itself, it is not success. That inner glow,
rather, grows practice by practice, class by class, relationship
by relationship. The most a win can do, Kondos Field says, is confirm
the feeling. A loss cannot erase it.
Kondos Field operates free from the pressures of hungry sports agents,
rabid boosters and big-money television contracts — those
elements that can create an environment in which winning becomes
paramount, sometimes to the exclusion of the collegiate ideal. Her
unsullied method might appear as a lamb among wolves in the world
of one of college’s revenue sports.
her approach would not be without precedent. Kondos Field’s
role model in coaching — the man she phoned, victorious, from
the arena floor in Nebraska — stuck to his principles for
many title-free years before finally earning a national championship.
scholars of collegiate basketball tend to dismiss John Wooden’s
success as the product of a less pressurized time. But Wooden also
struggled with major challenges, including high academic requirements,
practice facilities so dated he cringed when showing them to recruits
and the indignity of playing home games in high school gyms and