Archive for the ‘University of California Los Angeles’ Tag

Meet Danusia Francis   Leave a comment

This UCLA freshman created a huge buzz with her no-hands sideways-facing forward flip done on the balance beam at the NCAA Gymnastics finals last Sunday.

No one else is performing this stunt in competitions right now. WOW!

She landed this epic flip perfectly … but then fell later in her routine. But for that slip, she just might have won a national championship.  And she’s just a freshman!

Kudos to, who posted the gif.

Dinner For 12 Strangers   1 comment

UCLA Logo - BearCommunity.

At its best, a university becomes a community that supports its members. And that’s exactly what UCLA has done with an event put on by the Student Alumni Association called Dinner For 12 Strangers.  UCLA alumni – worldwide – are asked to host dinners for fellow Bruins.

Dinners can be hosted for other alumni, or for students.  Last year, UCLA alumni, including Velda, hosted nearly 400 dinners over 3 weekends.

This year, Velda partnered with Debi, her fellow UCLA alumna, good friend, co-worker, and former student (!) to co-host a Dinner.  I knew we were in trouble when Debi and Martin, her husband, began unloading their car to deliver their culinary creations to our home, and they brought in serving dishes bigger than I’d ever seen.

WHAT? Bigger serving pieces than Velda uses.  We were in trouble.

Velda never met a recipe she couldn’t make bigger and better.  Debi and her sous chef Martin apparently subscribe to the same philosophy.

I try and keep Velda under control by helping her as little as possible.  I mean, she’s only got 2 hands, right?  As long as I’m not in the kitchen, she can’t reach things on the top shelves, and can’t open tightly sealed containers.  If I was more available to her in the kitchen, heaven only knows how much more food she would be preparing for our clan.

Martin never got that memo, apparently. And doesn’t he know that using larger dishes only encourages Debi to fill them?  Martin, I have so much to teach you.

But back to our wonderful Dinner.

8 students braved the LA freeways to find our home, and settled in to meet new friends and enjoy a casual dinner.  They should have all brought a bunch of classmates … the buffet was overflowing the kitchen. Those big dishes were everywhere, it seems, and they were never empty. It was a great meal, obviously! The ladies even collaborated on a dessert that was an homage to a Westwood favorite, Diddy Riese. The meal was complete.

It was a largely medical crowd (something Velda requested), so there were post-dinner discussions of brain dissections, body fluids and what wild cats do in the dark.  I just may have to publish my rules for family dinner conversation next time around….

Did we do the 8-clap? OF COURSE.

I can’t wait for 2014.  Rumor has it the ladies will team up at Debi’s house next time. That’s great … unless Velda demands bigger serving dishes to keep up.

UCLA v. Stanford at the Rose Bowl   Leave a comment

One annoying thing about going to the Rose Bowl is they do not allow DSLRs into the public area.  I guess they’re afraid that you might take some really good pictures?

In any event, I was limited to my old point and shoot, so I did my best.

The Bruins weren’t up to the task either, unfortunately, falling 35-17.  This was just table setting for the finale, however.  The Bruins have a chance for immediate revenge on Friday, when they will again play Stanford, but this time for the Pac-12 Championship.  Friday’s game will be in Palo Alto.

John Wooden’s Statue   4 comments

John Wooden created the UCLA basketball program.  He inherited a program that was mediocre, at best, in the Pacific Coast Conference, going 12-13 the year before Wooden came in.

Under Wooden’s leadership, he began by winning 4 straight conference championships.  From that ostentatious beginning, Wooden built the UCLA program to unprecedented levels.

  • Four undefeated seasons.  No other college basketball coach has more than one
  • Ten national titles
  • And his never-to-be-broken record:  Seven straight national titles

Part of Wooden’s lore is that he recruited Lew Alcindor — one of, if not the greatest college player of all time — by saying that he was building a new basketball arena just for him.  If he would only come to UCLA!

Of course, Lew Alcindor came to LA, was a part of 3 national championship teams, and was the MVP of the tournament each of those 3 years.  Imagine that!

A careful watcher could have seen this coming, though.  After the June 1965 completion of Pauley, it hosted its first basketball game that fall:  an exhibition between the NCAA Champion varsity team, and the freshman team led by Lew Alcindor.  The freshman team won!

And Pauley Pavilion became an icon of college basketball.  That began with the building’s dedication in 1965.  A renovation was announced in 2007, and completed this year.  The first game is on Friday against Indiana State … ironically, the first college team coached by John Wooden.

Here’s a photo collection of the new Pauley Pavilion, taken today at the public open house.  A new statue of John Wooden was unveiled a few days ago; it’s on the north side of the building, facing UCLA’s intramural fields.

John R. Wooden
UCLA Head Basketball Coach 1948 – 1975
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

The concourse is filled with testaments to John Wooden and his legacy at Pauley Pavilion.

The new expanded concourse surrounding the court features huge murals dedicated to the sports that play in Pauley, which will host the 2013 NCAA Men’s Volleyball championship.  The John Wooden quote at the bottom: “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”

Pauley will also host the 2013 NCAA women’s gymnastic championship. The Wooden text: Make each day your masterpiece.

The Wooden text under the basketball mural: “Be at your best when your best is needed.”

UCLA celebrates “Champions Made Here.” They have currently earned 108 NCAA championships, the most of any university.  Each of the 108 championships are listed on the northern side of the concourse.

Pillars in the concourse have signs dedicated to noteworthy events in the illustrious history of Pauley, including Lew Alcindor’s 1967 record of 61 points in one game, which still stands today.

Pauley Pavilion is unique in college sports:  only national championship banners hang from the rafters.  Conference championships — of which there are many — are not showcased.

The home and visitor’s benches have been moved to the north side of the Nell and John Wooden Court. A video ribbon has been added around the arena.

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