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Gymnastics: Team supports Beckerman’s dismissal

By Jeff Eisenberg

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

What could have been a controversial decision doesn’t seem
to have generated much discord among the ranks of the UCLA
gymnastics team.

Although the current Bruins empathize with ex-teammate Alyssa
Beckerman, who was kicked off the team Sept. 11 by coach Valorie
Kondos Field, they seem to support the decision.

“She did the right thing,” senior Jeanette Antolin
said. “If Alyssa really had the desire, she would have done
everything she needed to get back out here.”

If there’s any member of the team that one might expect to
stand up for Beckerman, it’s Antolin, who has been through a
similar ordeal. But Antolin, who like Beckerman was dismissed from
the team prior to her sophomore season before earning her way back
onto the roster, has come to the same conclusion as the majority of
her teammates.

She believes that Beckerman was not in good enough shape when
she returned to UCLA in September to earn a spot on the team.

“In gymnastics we have different expectations than any
other sport,” Antolin said. “Alyssa knew that when she
reported. She was expected to be in a certain condition, and she
obviously wasn’t.”

One of seven seniors on this year’s UCLA squad, Antolin
has had a tumultuous collegiate career since arriving in Westwood
in the fall of 2000. She battled personal problems as a freshman
and sophomore, before rebounding with a sparkling junior
campaign.

Antolin and the rest of her teammates have kept in touch with
Beckerman since she was released from the program, and have tried
to be supportive.

“Being through it all and knowing how hard it is, I want
to be there for her as much as possible,” Antolin said.

Kondos Field met numerous times with Beckerman in the past few
years to discuss her training habits, before informing her in June
that she was not renewing her letter of intent for the 2003-2004
school year. The 14-year coach did give Beckerman a chance to
regain her spot on the roster by getting in shape over the summer,
but, according to Antolin, she did not do enough.

Beckerman, who received permission from Kondos Field to work out
at home in New Jersey over the summer, said she had trained as hard
as she could given the lingering effects of a dislocated knee she
sustained in the middle of this past season.

The 23-year-old Beckerman believes she deserved the chance to
finish out her UCLA gymnastics career.

While the majority of her ex-teammates stand by Kondos
Field’s decision, they have all pledged to help Beckerman in
any way possible.

“What happened is unfortunate, but we all have to move
on,” senior Jamie Dantzscher said. “Alyssa is a loyal
friend and a talented individual. We’ll be here to support
her in whatever she decides to do.”

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Jeff Eisenberg
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