In John Wooden Center’s Yates Gymnasium, there is a board with the name of each individual member of the UCLA gymnastics team written on it.
Next to each athlete’s name is a grid with the scores she received in her last meet. Next to that might be a sticker if coach Valorie Kondos Field finds that the gymnast delivered a national-quality routine that week.
If, at the end of the season, a gymnast has enough stickers, she is rewarded with a customized Bruins sweatshirt.
Heading into their meet this Sunday, UCLA gymnasts are aspiring to earn some stickers.
Coach Field knows that her team is competitive, so creating games in which they can win is an additional motivator.
“I do not want them focusing on scores. So I give them a point system. They get ‘x’ amount of points if they hit their routine with good execution, stick their performance, and stay engaged. For a quality national routine, they get a sticker,” Field said.
UCLA will take on Washington, Sacramento State and UC Davis in its last home meet before three consecutive meets on the road.
Junior Olivia Courtney is happy to return to Pauley Pavilion after competing on the road against Stanford last week.
“Being in Pauley, a legendary building, is awesome and unreal. I love it,” Courtney said.
For this meet, Courtney will compete on beam, replacing freshman Sophina DeJesus. DeJesus grazed her head on the balance beam earlier this week, resulting in a concussion that left her unable to compete.
“You never want a teammate to get injured, but now I need to step up and compete on beam,” Courtney said.
Senior Vanessa Zamarripa, who has earned three Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week awards so far this season, is one athlete who has stood out this year.
“It’s nice to see that hard work pays off. I always try to remember to really enjoy this moment. These kinds of opportunities don’t come by often,” Zamarripa said.
The Bruins are going to continue working hard as they reach the midpoint of their season.
“We go for the stickers,” Courtney said.
Email Epps at [email protected].