Jordyn Wieber: The name has become almost synonymous with gymnastics. As the standing 2011 All-Around World Champion — a title she achieved earlier this year in Japan — and reigning American Cup Champion, it’s not hard to see why that is. When you meet Jordyn there is no denying that, although she looks much like any other 16-year-old, there is something different — almost magical — about her. Jordyn says it best herself. That difference? “Dedication.” “It takes a lot to put in all that work,” she said while sitting among her family in their cozy, DeWitt home. “You just have to be ready for the sacrifices … It’s all worth it.” Jordyn is in the gym 30 hours a week for practice, which means limited time with friends and her family. In fact, when the majority of the family packs up and heads to their cottage this holiday season on Crystal Mountain, Jordyn and one of her parents will stay behind, joining the rest of the family later so that she doesn’t miss out on too many hours of practice. Once there, she’ll have to forgo skiing, something she gave up years ago, to avoid risk of injury. “Every little bit of hard work and training will count,” said Jordyn. It’s easy to see that along with Jordyn, her mom Rita, dad Dave, brother Ryan, 18, and sisters Lindsay, 24, and Kyra, 12, have also made sacrifices to ensure that Jordyn is successful. “It’s a life decision for our family to do this,” said Rita. “Our whole family dynamic has been different … and I’m not upset about it.” “We support it,” added older brother Ryan, football player and senior at DeWitt High School. The changes in the Wieber family began when Jordyn, the one and only gymnast in her family, was just 3 years old. Noticing her incredible strength, Rita and Dave enrolled her in gymnastics as a way for her to use her talents. It started as a mommy-and-me class but quickly became more. “I remember I actually got this mat for our basement … (I was) doing handstands all over the house,” said Jordyn. “I just really loved it.” By the age of 5, Jordyn made the Silver Stars team at Twistars (the gym she still trains at with coach John Geddert, the 2011 USA World Team Head Coach). Making that group meant practices were three days a week for three hours. “I remember thinking ‘that’s ridiculous,’” said Rita. Still, there was no denying Jordyn’s love for the sport, so her parents continued to support her. “She probably would have moved out if we wouldn’t have let her do gymnastics,” said Rita laughing. By the age of 7 Jordyn achieved the Diamond Level during TOPs testing and became the first in Twistars history to do so. By 10 years old Jordyn was an Elite gymnast, meaning from that point on, she was considered someone to watch for the Olympic team. At 11 she attended her first U.S. Championship, made the U.S. Team and has continued with them ever since, training once a month in Texas with Marta Karolyi. The only Michigander on the U.S. Team today, Jordyn has formed friendships with the other members, including past Olympians like Shawn Johnson. If the terms “TOPs,” “Elite” and more seem confusing to you, Rita says you’re not alone. Since Jordyn was her only child to be in the gymnastics world, the entire journey has been a learning experience for Rita, one that she will share in her book Gym Mom, which she hopes will hit bookstores in 2012. “It’s the book I wish someone would have handed me,” said Rita. Despite the hard work, dedication and the countless number of trophies and ribbons already in her possession, Jordyn said she never walks into a competition expecting to win — still, given her competitive nature, winning is always a good thing. “It was awesome,” said Jordyn of her win in Japan. Still, there is one more goal Jordyn hopes to accomplish — to make the Olympic team. “To make it — that would make all my dreams come true,” she said. “To complete that final, huge goal would be amazing.” Rita and Dave agree. “It’s getting so much more surreal,” said Rita. But first things first, said Jordyn who says she tries not to get ahead of herself. —“I just stay in the moment.” Next up is the American Cup competition in March. In the spring she’ll begin a series of competitions and trials to determine whether or not she’ll be one of the women on the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Team. In the meantime, Jordyn will try to keep her life as normal as possible. While many of her fellow gymnasts on the U.S. Team have opted to be home-schooled due to their demanding schedules, Jordyn said it is important for her to stay enrolled at DeWitt High School. “It’s really important to me, because I’ve always tried to keep a balanced lifestyle,” said Jordyn, who plans to graduate with her class next year. Jordyn will also try to stay healthy, fit and injury-free. After sitting out of various competitions because of a torn hamstring and then an injured ankle a few years ago, she knows the importance of being careful. “You have to be really smart in your training,” she said. “Most of the time I’m really focused … I have a goal I want to accomplish every day.” While much of Jordyn’s unusual and hectic schedule has become routine, her recent decision to go pro, will mean some changes. “I had to look at my situation and decide what would be best for myself,” she said. “I’m really excited.” Being a professional gymnast means Jordyn is able to earn money doing what she loves. She is also eligible to do endorsement deals and although for now, Rita will handle that work, Jordyn may have to acquire an agent in the future. No one can quite be sure where gymnastics will take Jordyn, who has already traveled to Italy, Australia, Japan, Guatemala, Belgium, Montreal and all around the United States thanks to the sport, or where exactly Jordyn will take gymnastics, but one thing is for sure, “I can’t imagine what my life would be like without it,” she said.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.