Life During Lockdown: Valorie Kondos Field

Miss Val and her athlete/video star Katelyn Ohashi

In 2016 I was asked to help create (along with my friend Neal Foard) a series of video conversations for UCLA called The Optimists. Valorie was one of the participants, along with professor Carol Bakhos and Alex Korb, in a discussion about gratitude. It’s worth a watch. Before we even met, I felt that Miss Val (that’s what all her athletes call her) and I should be friends. Some people are just like that. Val was for 29 years the head gymnastics coach at UCLA, during which time she won seven NCAA Championships. I went to see her teams compete a number of times, and what always struck me was how they performed and owned the floor beyond executing their routines. If you watch Katelyn Ohashi’s routine below (with over 100 MILLION views on YouTube), you immediately see this. Val was trained as a choreographer and brought a completely unique point of view to gymnastics coaching. She’s also a breast cancer survivor and author. To learn more about her you can visit her website or listen to this outstanding podcast interview with Michael Gervais. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from her.

1. Give me some highlights and lowlights from your first month in lockdown mode.

In lockdown I have worked on my patience, consistent kindness, and fitness. It is so easy to get irritated with the people you are in quarantine with, when those are the exact people you should practice your best character traits with. I live with my husband and the first week I found myself taking out my fear, sadness, uncertainty on him. He didn’t deserve that. So, while I was still feeling these feelings of fear, sadness and uncertainty I told myself to practice gratitude. The easiest way is to simply look the person in the eye and say “Thank you”. When we practice gratitude we have an immediate surge of all of the good chemicals like dopamine that flood the brain. It didn’t take long before my gratitude took hold and I now find myself thanking him all day long, and visa verse. A very simple concept with massive rewards.

2. How have you grown personally and professionally during the crisis?

Personally I have grown deeper in my Faith through daily reading, prayer and meditation. I have struggled with figuring out how to be joyful and appreciative when so many are hurting. Professionally, I am reinventing my brand. I do a lot of zoom meetings with people of all ages and have restructured my message to include the feelings that we are all dealing with right now.

100 million viewers can’t be wrong

3. Has your relationship with your work changed as a result of being homebound?

Yes, I had quite a few speaking engagements lined up through 2021. Obviously they all got cancelled. We’ll see how many of them request me again once we are able to congregate. In the mean time, I’m structuring a virtual speaking gig for quite a few companies and gymnastic gyms. I’m actually getting quite a few requests, which is nice.

4. Can coaches/creators/teachers like yourself create positive change in the world during the pandemic?

Absolutely. Now is the perfect time for all of us to have some quiet time for self-examination of who we want to be as we move through this pandemic and beyond. It’s the perfect time to leave behind the parts of us that we aren’t proud of. Life isn’t just about thriving in the good times. Life is about staying true to our personal North Star, moral compass and unique spirit during the good and hard times. It is times like this that define a generation. If the people who lived through World War II are defined as the Greatest Generation, I am doing all I can to ensure that we are defined as the 2nd Greatest Generation.

This was taken 30 seconds after Val and I met for the first time



Founder, Abraham Content Marketing Studio

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