LOS ANGELES – The UCLA Stavros Niarchos Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture will welcome Valorie Kondos Field as its inaugural speaker for the 2019-2020 academic year. Field’s inspirational lecture, “Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance,” will be held on Sunday, October 6, 3 PM, in the Lenart Auditorium at UCLA’s Fowler Museum. The lecture is free and open to the community. A reception and book signing will follow on the museum’s Goldenberg Terrace. The lecture is co-sponsored by the newly formed Pacific Region of the Hellenic American Women’s Council.
Valorie Kondos Field is the retired head coach of the seven-time NCAA Champion, 22-time Regional and 18-time Pac 12 Champion UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team. Inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010, the four-time “National Coach of the Year” was recently named “West Region Coach” of the Year and Pac 12 “Coach of the Century” for her solid track record as a preeminent coach.
Affectionately known by her gymnasts as “Miss Val,” her reputation is only one reason that 46 former U.S. National team members have come through her program and why half of the last two Olympic teams have committed to UCLA. Field’s coaching success is due to her extraordinary leadership and mentorship of young student-athletes, and the way in which she uses gymnastics as an avenue through which to teach valuable life lessons, while encouraging individuality and joy. Something Field learned from the late John Wooden, the legendary and most successful collegiate basketball coach of all time, who was one of her biggest inspirations, as well as a close mentor and friend.
Field began her career as a professional ballet dancer and choreographer for the Washington, DC and Sacramento Ballet Companies. Although never a gymnast herself, she has transferred to her student-athletes all she learned in the world of classical dance. The result of which has been nearly three decades of coaching one of the premiere athletic programs in any sport, mentoring hundreds of elite athletes, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Jordan Wieber, Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez, and Nastia Liukin.
Also known as the nation’s foremost gymnastics choreographer, Miss Val’s many credits include choreographing and directing a myriad of live variety shows, such as the NCAA Opening Ceremonies for Women’s Basketball, a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar roast, CBS’s “Jump, Jive & Thrive” Breast Cancer Research Foundation benefit, and 26 years of cirque-type shows for SeaWorld’s Summer Nights, and Choreographer and Director for multiple shows for the San Diego Zoo from 2015 to the present featuring larger-than-life puppets, dancers, still walkers, musicians, and acrobats. Works include The Journey, JAMBO!, and Call of the Night. Current projects include additional live stage shows, TV specials, events, and the development of a theatrical musical. She is also a dynamic and charismatic speaker with an extensive schedule of corporate coaching events for national companies including JP Morgan Chase.
As a recent breast cancer survivor, Field’s positive outlook and hope-filled message is impactful. She empowers her athletes to use their voices, to celebrate themselves, and to enjoy the elite sport that has damaged so many in the past. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share motivating and inspirational messages with the world, with her book, “Life Is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance: Advice and Inspiration from the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame Coach of 7 NCAA Championship Teams,” which was released in Fall 2018 by the Hachette Book Group. It expounds on her life philosophy: “Don’t wait to see what life is going to hand you, take control of your life and design-choreograph it exactly how you want it to turn out.”
The UCLA Stavros Niarchos Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture supports lectures and performances that are free and open to the public.
More information on this year’s schedule, including Modern Greek language classes and book clubs, is available online: hellenic.ucla.edu.