Sturdy base: Bayley Humphrey embraces bittersweet feeling ahead of Senior Night

Senior base Bayley Humphrey (45) holds junior top Jordan Gruendler (38) during No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling's home meet against No. 2 Oregon on Feb. 25 in the Ferrell Center. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

From a high school gymnast to a powerful base for Baylor’s acrobatics and tumbling team, senior Bayley Humphrey is close to finishing her storied career in the green and gold.

Humphrey competed in gymnastics all throughout high school before becoming a Bear.

“I was actually talking to a fellow friend of mine because I didn’t want to stop being an athlete,” Humphrey said. “I wanted to continue [with] collegiate athletics, but I didn’t know how to go about that. … And so I did research, and I found that Baylor had acrobatics and tumbling. And so I went to camp, and I just got interested and got recruited, and it’s been amazing.”

In her time at Baylor, Humphrey has contributed to three NCATA National Championships and has helped create new tricks for meets, such as the boomerang.

“Me and my partner, Jordan [Gruendler], … just get creative every year and just see what we should do this year and what cool thing would be awesome to put on the floor,” Humphrey said. “So we kind of just brainstorm at the beginning of the fall semester, and then we train that skill throughout the whole time.”

On top of creating new stunts, Humphrey said she has been excited to see the expansion of acro and tumbling.

“I’m really proud of helping grow the sport,” Humphrey said. “I’ve competed skills that nobody really has before, and I think that’s really cool, because that just shows how much potential the sport has and that it’s not going to remain the same at all every year and that it’s going to continue to grow and inspire more girls.”

Head coach Felicia Mulkey added on to Humphrey’s statements, saying that Humphrey helped change the sport.

“I mean, she’s meant a lot to me, the team and the sport as a whole,” Mulkey said. “Bayley honestly alone kind of changed the game. So I think we’re going to be sad to see her go because she’s our teammate, but I think the sport as a whole, it kind of has grasp on to Bayley, so she’s wonderful.”

Humphrey has also received a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deal with the World Wrestling Company (WWE).

“I kind of endorsed them in a way,” Humphrey said. “They signed me on, and so I go to their events, and they kind of show me how everything works, and I take pictures for posts on my social media and say all the cool events I went to with them and stuff like that.”

In addition to the NIL deal, Humphrey has been weighing a few options of what she wants to pursue once she graduates in May.

“[Wrestling] is one of the options, and so it is a potential — and kind of just seeing what happens after I graduate, taking it one step at a time,” Humphrey said. “I recently got accepted into graduate school at the University of Texas Medical Branch. And I actually will be trying out for the women’s Olympic rugby team in June.

“I’m so grateful for more than just one opportunity that I get to choose from, so I will be pursuing as much as I can and just signing as I go.”

Senior base Bayley Humphrey (45) has been named an NCATA All-American in back-to-back seasons and was awarded NCATA Specialist of the Year in 2022. Camie Jobe | Photographer
Senior base Bayley Humphrey (45) has been named an NCATA All-American in back-to-back seasons and was awarded NCATA Specialist of the Year in 2022. Camie Jobe | Photographer

One person whom Humphrey said has really influenced her and continues to be her No. 1 fan is her mom.

“[My mom] is my best friend and always has been, [and] she has never missed a meet,” Humphrey said. “Even through my hard days, she’s always there for me and always there to cheer me on. And no matter what, I know she has always had my back and always will have my back, and she is the reason I’m here today.”

Looking back at her time at Baylor, Humphrey said the school has meant everything to her.

“[Baylor] has taught me so many things that I can take into my future with me that don’t just stop at Baylor,” Humphrey said. “And it has brought me amazing teammates that will be friends for life. And it’s what my whole world to me here at Baylor [is], and it’s what made my Baylor experience amazing.”

On Saturday, Humphrey will compete in the meet against No. 4 Gannon (6-0), which is Baylor’s Senior Night. It will be the last home meet of her career, and she said it’s a bittersweet feeling.

“It’s really sad, but I’m also excited for a new chapter in my life,” Humphrey said. “I go through days where I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave.’ But then I’ll have some days and I’m like, ‘This chapter has been an amazing chapter in my life, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in my future.’

“So, I am excited for Senior Night. It’ll be really fun. It’s a good competition, but yeah, I’ll definitely be sad because it’s my last one in the Ferrell [Center].”