Coach Valorie Kondos Field started to get emotional before her last meet in Pauley Pavilion even began.
In an honorary premeet ceremony, UCLA Athletics director Dan Guerrero revealed the floor would now be called the “Valorie Kondos Field Floor,” noting when people think of UCLA gymnastics and its coach, they think of floor.
He also highlighted the title is fitting given the floor rests on the Nell and John Wooden Court – a tribute to the two legendary UCLA coaches’ friendship.
Kondos Field seemed visibly surprised, covering her face with her hands.
“I was overwhelmed by the floor,” Kondos Field said. “I would’ve never (guessed). If they had said, ‘What do you think they’re going to do to tribute your name?’ I would’ve said, ‘Put a plaque up in the gym, I don’t know.’ (But then) how (Guerrero) explained it, that (floor has) been my stage, that I’ve crafted these routines and taught gymnasts how to perform. … What a perfect gift.”
No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) defeated Utah State (5-10, 0-6 MW) on Saturday 197.575-194.850 in the Bruins’ last home meet of the season. The meet celebrated the seniors’ and Kondos Fields’ final meet at Pauley Pavilion in front of a crowd of 12,270 people.
UCLA tied its lowest scores of the season in a dual meet on vault and the uneven bars, recording 49.100 and 49.200, respectively. Despite the Bruins’ lower-than-usual scores, the Aggies did not break 49.000 in either of those events.
Junior Kyla Ross fell on both events for the first time this season.
“I was more shocked than anything,” Ross said. “But (senior Katelyn Ohashi) did come up and tell me that I’ve been carrying the team a lot this whole season, so it’s fine to give them the chance to be able to help me get through this. It was definitely amazing to know that I had that support. That helped me flip the switch and be able to come back stronger after the first two events.”
The Bruins came back in the next two events, scoring 49.450 on balance beam and 49.825 on floor, respectively.
The Bruins honored their seniors throughout the meet, with Macy Toronjo competing in an exhibition on bars to loud applause while Brielle Nguyen was immediately wrapped in a long embrace from her teammates and later Kondos Field after completing her routine on beam.
Ohashi said she was just trying to absorb everything about being in Pauley Pavilion for the last time.
“I tried to just stay present and enjoy everything and everyone that came out to see it,” Ohashi said. “Just knowing how much the crowd has grown in the past four years was amazing.”
UCLA had Pauley on its feet during floor. Both sophomore Pauline Tratz and junior Felicia Hano garnered 9.950s, while junior Gracie Kramer scored a 9.925.
Chants of “10” and “Kyla Boss” flooded the gym after Ross finished her routine, and the cheers only grew louder after her score was announced as a perfect 10. Ross has now scored a perfect 10 in every single event this season, completing a “gym slam.”
Ohashi finished off floor with her viral routine, with more chants of “10” ringing out. The judges did not disappoint, and Ohashi received a perfect 10 to cap off her final home performance.
“I love what I do so much,” Ohashi said. “If it weren’t for Miss Val, the sport wouldn’t be what it is today. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If it weren’t for her, I don’t even know that I’d be a gymnast today. So, for that reason, she has probably changed everyone’s world that’s in here today, and I want to thank her (so) much for that.”
Kondos Field led the fans in a final dance as the meet concluded before honoring the UCLA seniors in a postmeet ceremony. A video paying tribute to Kondos Field’s career with the Bruins followed, featuring former athletes and coworkers.
The crowd rose in one last standing ovation as generations of alumni gymnasts, Utah State and UCLA gymnastics teamed up in a final flash mob, forming a circle around the coach on her floor to say goodbye.
“I’ve spent my whole lifetime here,” Kondos Field said. “And, this is coach Wooden’s home that we all get to come visit. I think for the first time I realized it’s my home, too.”