Without exception, for 37 consistent years every time I walk through the doors of Pauley Pavilion I get the sensory reminder that I am, indeed, on hallowed ground. From athletic championships to rock concerts, presidential debates and awards shows, Pauley Pavilion has been an elegant and regal host to some of the most significant people and events of our time, including the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Jay-Z, The Who, Justin Bieber, Luciano Pavarotti, The Grateful Dead, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to name just a very few. Pauley Pavilion also hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics and provided the stage for Mary Lou Retton and our USA men’s gymnastics team to earn gold for the first (and only) time in U.S. history.
Pauley Pavilion has been the home to some of the greatest athletes of all time in basketball, volleyball and gymnastics, none held in more regard and sanctity than our own Coach John Wooden.
Yesterday, March 16th 2019, I walked through the doors of Pauley Pavilion for the last time as the head coach of the UCLA Gymnastics team. It may be the significance of its history or the magnificence of its stature, or both, but when I walk through the doors—and especially when I walk on the court—I feel as if time slows down. As if the air flows with a sense of mystical energy. It is this intangible yet undeniable energy that is referred to as “the magic of Pauley.” It is regal. It is alive. It is majestic. It has embraced all of my triumphs and heartaches with equal respect.
I am beyond honored that I was chosen to design and direct the opening ceremonies of the renovated Pauley Pavilion in 2012. Included in the 30 minute production was a full parade of all UCLA student-athletes. The first time in our history that a parade of athletes ever took place. Over 700 hundred Bruin men and women wearing the same UCLA track suit, all representing one of the greatest academic and athletic institutions in the world, all paying homage to our crown jewel… our home… Pauley Pavilion.
The next time I enter your doors I know I will be home, but I will have passed the torch to the next leader of UCLA Gymnastics. Thank you for providing me with the grandest of arenas from which I got to hone my craft as a coach and a leader. It has been one of my greatest honors.