When the name Jordyn Wieber is mentioned in the gymnastics world, a litany of accolades immediately spring to mind. The London 2012 Olympic Games team gold medalist, World all-around champion, US national champion, public speaker, and UCLA graduate and former Bruin student coach turned volunteer assistant is now ready to embark on a new mission and looks to lead the less than two decades old Arkansas Razorback gymnastics program to new heights as their new head coach.
Despite her young age, the 23 year old has experienced more in the sport of gymnastics and in life than many ever will. With technical prowess stemming from her enormously successful athletic career, coaching experience under the tutelage of some of the nation’s best, and a deep understanding of the challenges the student-athletes she coaches will face, Wieber seems in every way prepared to take on the responsibility of leading a program.
For the past two years, the time in which Wieber has been in charge of floor exercise at UCLA, the Bruins have been the number one-ranked floor team in the nation. Her mark on the event and the program’s success as a whole was instantly visible, as the Bruins’ floor lineup transformed from being one of the weak spots for UCLA to their best event, helping propel them to a national championship title in 2018.
Wieber was also able to learn from and be mentored by someone who is widely regarded as one of the best collegiate gymnastics coaches ever, Valorie Kondos Field, who Wieber herself calls “one of the best coaches that has ever existed in the country.” Crediting the UCLA coaching staff for “teaching me pretty much everything I know,” Wieber feels ready to take this Arkansas team and “make an already great program even better.”
Perhaps even more important than Wieber’s significant accomplishments and technical prowess is her approach to coaching, as gymnastics is currently in dire need of coaches who can produce high-caliber athletes without sacrificing the athletes’ mental or physical health in the process.
When asked about her coaching philosophy, Wieber emphasized that “these girls are so much more than gymnastics, and their value extends so much farther than the competition floor. I want them to feel that way and treat them that way, I want to help them through any and all obstacles they go through not just in the gym but outside the gym.”
The 23 year old is aiming to create a “culture of transparency” and aims to “be really open about every decision [she] will make as head coach.” Acknowledging the club gymnastics culture where gymnasts “do not have much say or ownership of their training,” Jordyn wants the student-athletes she coaches to “feel like they understand why they are doing what they are doing and have a little bit of ownership and feel comfortable speaking their opinion.”
The hiring of such a young head coach has been a point of contention throughout the NCAA gymnastics community, but Wieber feels like “if anything, it will be a huge benefit.” With the experience Jordyn has being a high-caliber athlete, she is able to coach from “a place of experience and knowledge.” Being able to tell athletes “I’ve been where you have been. This is how I got through it and this is how I think you can get through it” is an asset that has already served the new head coach well in her career.
The unique ability Wieber will have to “connect with this young generation of girls on a different level” will serve her well in her goal to “develop relationships and trust [with the team] to find out exactly what motivates them. “
Jordyn’s coaching philosophy reveals a mindset that is incredibly refreshing and necessary in the gymnastics world today. In her description of her coaching style, Wieber has a deep understanding of the “enormous responsibility” it is to mentor young women as they “transform from high school students to college graduates and get ready for life after college.” This mentality, one that promotes coaching student-athletes as “whole people” and not just gymnasts, is one will likely bode extremely well in her attempt to create a positive, empowering culture at Arkansas.
Arriving on campus, Wieber said she immediately realized “how special” the town of Fayetteville and the program at Arkansas is. The team is coming off a season where they were just .125 off of qualifying to the super regional at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional where they were dealt a difficult draw, with Arkansas sophomore Sophia Carter calling the season “great but with challenges and setbacks.” Carter, who qualified to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth as an individual on floor exercise this year, says she was “ecstatic” at the news that Wieber would be the new head coach and is “excited to see what she will do for the program here.”
Carter is already an all-American on floor, the event Wieber coached over at UCLA, but hopes to gain the same honor on the balance beam, an event where she has reached near-perfection multiple times. With Jordyn calling beam “her favorite event growing up,” and saying she is “really excited” to be able to coach the event, this coaching match already seems one that is likely to be highly successful.
As the new head coach, Jordyn’s first goal is to “get the athletes to buy in to who I am and what I want to do in terms of training and conditioning.” In her first season, Wieber cites leading the team to the night session of the SEC Gymnastics Championship and the super regional round as major goals, but her long term vision for the program has goals even higher.
Finally being able to be fully immersed in the recruiting process as a head coach, Wieber is focused on bringing in “amazing athletes with great character,” and hopes to see the “great team chemistry” the team already has continue to grow.
Not shying away from setting her sights at the top, Wieber stated with complete confidence that she “believes with [her] whole heart that Arkansas has all of the resources and support that they need” to win a national championship title.
With athletes like Carter who are ready to “grow through the process,” as she said, Wieber’s goal of “getting the team to believe that they can do it,” seems to be very possible. A new coaching hire is always a gamble, but with a coach like Wieber who has the confidence to say “I have been a part of a team who has won a national championship and I have the experience behind me to be able to lead this team there,” this gamble looks like it could turn into a jackpot for Arkansas Razorback gymnastics.Tags: 2019 NCAA Regionals, 2019 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Jordyn Wieber, London 2012 Olympic Games, NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, NCAA Gymnastics, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, Pac 12, SEC, SEC Gymnastics Championship, Sophia Carter, UCLA, UCLA Bruins, US, Valorie Kondos Field