Valorie Kondos Field, head coach of the 7-time NCAA champion UCLA women's gymnastics team, announced on September 20th that she will retire from her coaching position following the 2019 season.
In her book, "Life is Short, Don't Wait to Dance," which was released on October 2nd, she outlines her coaching philosophy and shares anecdotes from throughout her career.
espnW caught up with Kondos Field to discuss her new book, her guiding frameworks as a coach and the importance of pausing during the day.
She told espnW: "I think if we all took a little more intention to pause throughout our day, pausing before we respond to someone, pausing before we hit a tweet, pausing before we react, so that we can pause and then choose our response, I think there would be a lot less negative vitriol and mean-spiritedness going on."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
espnW: What do you hope people get from this book?
Valorie Kondos Field: That you have to have your own little pause and say, "Wow, I am special, I am unique, and I'm going to celebrate that."
espnW: Do you think that's one of your guiding frameworks as a coach?
VKF: Absolutely. I feel so lucky that I work with this age group. I get to help young women learn really tough lessons through the sport of gymnastics. This is when they start having this awakening to the fact that life isn't just about what their parents, bosses and coaches tell them, but it's about designing and choreographing your own life. We happen to do that through the sport of gymnastics. The gymnastics part of it is the fun part, being able to compete and flip and twist, that's the icing on the cake. I tell my girls that there are a lot of young girls in the world who live in countries that don't allow them to play sports, especially wearing a leotard. That's the first thing we talk about -- give pause, thanks, gratitude.
espnW: What does "pausing" look like in your daily life?
VKF: Pausing is literally thousands of moments throughout my waking day. I pause to choose how to respond to someone. I pause to stop and breathe and give thanks because I'm getting to live this life. There's so much sadness in the world and so many people who don't have choices in life. When I had cancer, and I started taking the time to pause and be grateful for every little thing, it changed every aspect of my life.
espnW: What does the book title, "Life is Short, Don't Wait to Dance" mean to you?
VKF: It doesn't say life is short, don't wait to work, it says don't wait to dance. And dance, obviously, is a metaphor, for the things that make your heart sing.