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Gymnastics: Beckerman questions dismissal

By Jeff Eisenberg

Oct. 6, 2003 9:00 p.m.

What’s clear about Alyssa Beckerman’s UCLA
gymnastics career is that it’s over.

What isn’t clear ““ at least to Beckerman ““ is
why.

“I contributed to the team in terms of grades,
performance, attitude and effort,” said Beckerman, 22, who
was dismissed from the team by coach Valorie Kondos Field just
prior to the start of classes. “It’s my senior year.
I’m shocked that I am not a part of it anymore.”

Just three days after the squad began its training for the
upcoming season, Kondos Field informed Beckerman, a former Olympian
and a member of two national championship teams at UCLA, that her
letter of intent would not be renewed. The coach cited
Beckerman’s subpar training and lack of enthusiasm as reasons
for her abrupt release but would not elaborate further.

“Alyssa had certain responsibilities to the program, and
she didn’t fulfill them,” Kondos Field said. “It
was never just one thing with her. I would never release someone
from the program just based on gymnastics.”

The relationship between Beckerman and Kondos Field began
deteriorating years ago. The two met numerous times to discuss
Beckerman’s attitude and declining performance before the
coach finally issued an ultimatum in June.

Kondos Field informed the injury-plagued All-American that if
she were not in better shape in the fall, she would no longer have
a place on the team.

“I was warned, but I don’t think it was in my
hands,” said Beckerman, who trained by herself all summer at
home in New Jersey.

Beckerman feels she wasn’t given a fair shot. She said she
tried communicating with Kondos Field a few times over the summer,
but the coach’s response was less than enthusiastic.

“I never had a chance, and now she questions my
attitude?” Beckerman said. “To me, that just reflects
her lack of integrity.”

Beckerman, who missed the second half of last season after
dislocating her knee, said she was still feeling the effects of the
injury over the summer and could not train to the best of her
ability. Nonetheless, her performance in the first few days of
practice, she believes, should have secured her spot on the
team.

“I tumbled with them, I ran with them ““ I thought I
did a great job,” Beckerman said. “I guess I
wasn’t good enough.”

Not in Kondos Field’s eyes, anyway.

The 14-year head coach called Beckerman into her office Sept. 11
and told her that her UCLA career had come to an end.

“There had been a lot of discussion about Alyssa over the
last few years, and I’ve made it really clear that she needed
to make some changes in her life,” Kondos Field said.
“Her teammates supported my decision. I made my reasons very
clear, and they understand.”

Beckerman is the second Bruin gymnast to be dismissed from the
team in recent years. Kondos Field kicked 2003 senior Jeanette
Antolin off the team prior to the 2001 school year but then
reinstated her at the request of her teammates.

Stripped of her athletic scholarship, Beckerman is now
considering legal action. She must now pay out-of-state tuition
this, her senior, year. She lost her housing and nearly her
classes, but, according to her, not the support of her
teammates.

“My teammates have all been there for me, and they call me
constantly,” she said. “They don’t want to see me
seep through the cracks.”

Beckerman received her 2003 national championship ring along
with the rest of the team at Saturday’s UCLA football
game.

“I still love UCLA,” she said. “I’ve
bled blue and gold for three years. Not even this will change
that.”

With reports from Eli Karon, Bruin Sports Senior
Staff

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