Rylie Mundell does her floor choreography in her routine.

Rylie Mundell Shines on the Competition Floor and in the Classroom

It’s no secret that the life of a college athlete can be a rollercoaster. Students who pursue athletics at the collegiate level have a lot on their plate each and every day. They have to put 100% effort into their sport and their academics, and they also have to balance that with the pressures of having a social life. While balancing a variety of commitments, it can be hard to excel in more than one area, but that’s exactly what Rylie Mundell does. 

Rylie Mundell is a junior at Denver. She’s been a staple in the Pioneers’ lineups since she was a freshman and boasts career-high scores of 9.975 on both bars and beam. It’s safe to say she excels on the competition floor. What people may not know is that Mundell also excels in the classroom. 

After her freshman year, Mundell received Denver’s undergraduate research grant to study physics. “That summer I studied geometric phase shift of lasers,” Mundell said. “I just like to tell people I built laser mazes all day, which is very fun.”

Being awarded a research grant as a freshman is no easy task. Luckily for Mundell, she worked hard to make connections with people that could help her reach her goals. Dr. Mark Siemens is one of those people who supported Mundell through the process.

“He was one of the first physics professors that I truly interacted with when I came to DU, and he encouraged me my freshman year to apply for this grant,” Mundell said. “He helped me write the paper, which was a super interesting process.” 

Dr. Siemens has helped about 20 of his students receive the same grant that Mundell did, so he knows exactly what it takes for someone to be awarded the prestigious honor. Siemens said Mundell is “very dedicated and puts in the time that’s needed—and not at the expense of having fun or enjoying what she’s doing.”

Being both a standout gymnast and a stellar student is a challenging task. Putting so much effort into two separate commitments is incredibly time consuming, and it takes a special type of person to make it work. But Mundell doesn’t give herself all the credit for being able to succeed in both athletics and academics. She says “it starts at the top.” The support from her coaches is a big factor in being able to balance school and training. 

“With their support, I’m able to make sure I focus on my studies and planning my schedule in a way that allows me to get both things done to the best of my ability and prioritize excellence in both domains,” Mundell said. 

Even in an environment that encourages success, excellence still requires hard work and self-discipline, which is exactly what Mundell has. Denver’s head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart says Mundell is “incredibly disciplined.” While she’s in the gym, Mundell “takes a lot of turns, she takes quality turns, she’s willing to put herself under pressure.” Both her environment and her own work ethic contribute to Mundell’s success in and out of the gym. 

Similar to most college students, Mundell doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do after graduation. But what she does know is that she wants to help bridge the gap between scientists and people that are making life-changing decisions, like politicians. 

“All of the issues that we face in the world right now are so complex,” Mundell said. “I don’t think you can expect them to be experts on every single issue that they have to focus on. And I think that if we can find a way for the scientists of the world to communicate more effectively with those who are responsible for making changes in our society, then the world would be a better place.” 

As for her future in the gymnastics world, she’s also unsure. She knows that she will stay involved with the sport in some capacity. Whether that is as someone in a coaching role or as a spectator, she knows she’ll stick around in one way or another because “gymnastics never really leaves you.”

READ THIS NEXT: Denver Crimson and Gold Intrasquad

Article by Emily Lockard

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year! [wpedon id=“13158”]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.