Hernández: UCLA gymnastics has a captivating magnetism, even in the time of coronavirus

What a waste, Nia Dennis finally sticking her landing on the vault and Margzetta Frazier nearly perfect on the uneven bars while UCLA thumped Oregon State on Saturday, only for virtually every seat in Pauley Pavilion to be empty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How many fathers in Southern California could have used tickets to the meet?

I can tell you there was at least one.

You see, my daughter doesn’t want much to do with me these days, which I’m told is a normal stage of development for girls. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon.


She’s 10.

Her company these days often costs me the living-room television and a part of my soul, as she subjects me to an endless stream of YouTube videos by some goof named Brent Rivera.

My daughter is into TikTok and Charli D’Amelio. She’s started experimenting with my wife’s makeup. She also likes UCLA gymnastics.


Over the previous two years, she did what she could to watch the likes of Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian, even if it required her to sit next to me for two hours. She referred to her heroes by their first names, as if they were friends.

Which, to a degree, was by design.

“I do feel strongly that the culture of the program helps build an authentic performance by our student-athletes,” Bruins coach Chris Waller said. “When someone goes out there and they’ve…

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