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Summer 2003
Field of Dreams
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Gymnast Onnie Willis is a prime example of Kondos Field’s principle that structure and accountability are essential to the overall success of the true student-athlete. In 2001, Willis won the NCAA all-around title; she was Pac-10 all-around champion in 2002; and this past season earned the 2002-’03 Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top female collegiate gymnast. Her days during the season start with early-morning workouts followed by classes, physical therapy, practice, more treatments, dinner and homework. Weekends are for meets and travel. She participates in meetings of the Bruin Athletic Council twice a month, and as a team mentor she meets regularly with younger athletes. All this, and she still maintains a 3.67 GPA, is an Academic All-American, an Academic All-Regent and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, and she plans to graduate in 2004 with a major in psychology and a minor in education.

“Why do I do this to myself?” she asks. “To be at a university like UCLA and to know you are part of its awesome tradition is just something you’ll never forget and no one can take away from you. The hard work and dedication and all that is just part of it.”

FANS WANT A WINNING TEAM. And college fans in particular are never reticent to hold the feet of a coach or administrator to the fire if their team is doing poorly, filling letters-to-the-editor columns and online message boards with vituperative screeds.

Expectations among fans and boosters for some Bruin sports, says Donald Morrison, UCLA’s faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and the William E. Leonhard Chair in Management in The Anderson School, may need revision to match the realities of UCLA’s position as an institution that sets high academic and ethical standards for all its students, including athletes, thus self-limiting the pool of top candidates from which it can draw.

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