Chris Waller has been named the new head coach of the UCLA gymnastics team. Waller takes over for longtime head coach Valorie Kondos Field, who led the Bruins for 29 years.
"It was my great honor to have worked alongside Miss Val for 17 years, and to take the helm of this storied program is a dream come true," Waller said in UCLA's announcement. "The lessons that she has taught our student-athletes over her tenure I have also learned. I am incredibly fortunate to have my first team as head coach be one that is filled with unquestionable leadership and talent. I have been a part of this Bruin Family since 1987 as a freshman on the NCAA Championship team and have been on this campus for the better part of 30 years. My blood runs Bruin blue, and I cannot wait to continue this journey."
Waller has been a part of the UCLA coaching staff for the past 17 seasons, including the national championship winning teams in 2003, 2004, 2010, 2018. Waller was voted by his peers the National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2004 and the West Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2018.
"Having known Chris since he was an 18-year-old student-athlete here, it has been so exciting to see him grow into the man and the phenomenal coach that he is today," said Kondos Field in UCLA's article. "Chris was born to coach, and I can honestly say that so much of our program's success since he's been on this staff has been due to his contributions. He is a true student of the sport of gymnastics and has embraced the psychological side of coaching as much as he has the technical side. I am confident that Chris will sustain the culture and excellence of the program, and I am excited to see the next chapter of UCLA Gymnastics under his guidance."
Waller has also seen success in the club gymnastics world. He and his wife Cindy are co-owners of Waller's GymJam Academy in Santa Clarita, a gym that continuously produces top JO athletes. He also coached UCLA alum Mohini Bhardwaj to a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2004.
Before his coaching career, Waller was an accomplished gymnast himself. As an elite, he was a member of the National Team from 1989-97 and was the U.S. all-around champion in 1991. Waller was named to the 1992 U.S. Olympic team where he competed in the all-around finals and took fifth on pommel horse. In college, Waller earned four All-America honors and helped the Bruins capture the NCAA team title in 1987.