From acrobatic gymnastics to brand sponsor: Jordan Gruendler appreciates team aspect of A&T

No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling junior top Jordan Gruendler earned NCATA Specialist of the Year for the second-straight season on Sunday. Gruendler was given the award for her prowess in the Acro event, where she averaged a 9.87/10 in heat one and 9.69/10 in heat three. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

Junior top Jordan Gruendler, a former individual acrobatic gymnastic athlete and current brand sponsor, said she appreciates the Baylor acrobatics and tumbling team for giving her a squad to care for and helping bring new skills into the sport.

Gruendler competed in acrobatic gymnastics for nine years, and she said going from an individual sport to a team sport has been her favorite part.

“I was on a team, and there were individual pairs and trios on that team, but it was never to the degree [of acrobatics and tumbling],” Gruendler said. “You always cheered for your teammates, but it was never like your success depended on the success of your teammates. And that’s just a different kind of bond, [and] it’s been really cool to watch develop.”

Gruendler competed in a gym called Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio, which she described as a “small tin box on top of the hill.” When Baylor staff came and recruited former Baylor base Abigail Rosilier, Gruendler became interested in joining the same program.

Gruendler said she has been most proud of coming up with new skills with her partner, senior base Bayley Humphrey.

“The new skills and stuff that we’ve been able to show on the floor have been done from where we come from before [acrobatic gymnastics],” Gruendler said. “But to bring them into a new light and kind of give more opportunities to people from the backgrounds that we come from — I feel like it’s kind of opened up a new set of skills, and it’s opened a new class of recruiting.”

In an interview with Voice of the Bears John Morris for The Sic ‘Em Podcast, Humphrey talked about the connection she shares with Gruendler.

“I will never forget this. The first time we worked together, Coach [Felecia Mulkey] was like, ‘OK, I’m going to put you guys together. You just come up with some crazy acro-skills,’” Humphrey said. “And we were like, ‘OK.’

“And I remember Jordan looking at me, and I was like, ‘What are you wanting to try?’ [Jordan] goes, ‘Let’s try a one arm.’ And I was like, ‘OK sure.’ … And then we tried it. And then all of a sudden, yeah, we’ve had this instant connection for the past three years of just coming up with crazy stuff.”

The bond that Gruendler and Humphrey share is undeniable, with Gruendler saying she has a running joke that when Humphrey graduates in May, her “sport is going to be OK” but her soul is not.

Outside of acrobatics and tumbling, Gruendler said she is focused on getting her degree in psychology and going to graduate school.

“I actually really enjoy my studies. I’m kind of a nerd, so I enjoy just going and studying at different places,” Gruendler said. “Being able to go and pursue research in psychological sciences and mental well-being is something I’m really passionate about.”

Regarding what program she would like to go to, Gruendler said she’s not sure where she’s going to land but that Colorado University in Boulder, Colo., is a place she’s been thinking about because of the nature found in the area.

In addition to her studies, Gruendler is involved with a program called 98Strong, where sponsors get different deals from time to time and have the option to accept or deny them.

“I remember finding it freshman year. I think a lot of us did, and I think we just kind of got sent a link or something,” Gruendler said. “And all of us were like, ‘Nah, that’s probably a scam.’ And then as time went on — like when people were doing it [and] other student-athletes [were] actually getting deals — you’re like, ‘Oh, OK. Maybe it’s not a scam.’”

Gruendler has been sponsoring OLIPOP, a prebiotic soda. Even though she hasn’t partnered with many brands, Gruendler said she’s happy to support a product like OLIPOP because it’s good for everyone.

Gruendler just capped off her third NCATA national championship win with Baylor, as the program secured its ninth straight title on Saturday. She was also named NCATA Specialist of the Year for the second straight season on Sunday.