Acrobatic Gymnastics Spotlight of the Month - Jessica Renteria
posted on 12/20/2018

Jessica Renteria began acrobatic gymnastics as a level 5 women’s pair top and has had a storied career since. Training at Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio under Vladimir Vladev for eleven years, she represented USA at the World Age Group Competition as a junior elite women’s pair base in both 2012 and 2014 and at the World Championships as a senior elite women’s pair base in 2016. She has numerous national and international titles and was awarded the inaugural Sportsperson of the Year in Acrobatics award at the 2016 USA Gymnastics Championships. Although the women’s pair has since retired, Jessica remains active in the acrobatic community. While a student at TCU in Ft Worth, Texas, Jessica has coached and traveled to gyms as a clinician and choreographer. In 2018, Jessica was elected as athlete representative on the USA Gymnastics Athletes’ Council for a four-year term, elected by the acrobatics national team members.

Q. You had long and illustrious career in acrobatics and are an inspiration to many young acrobats just getting started. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in acrobatics and what drew you to the sport?
A. I originally did gymnastics classes for fun, but one day all that changed. My mom was late picking me up from practice. While I was waiting for her, a group of acrobats came in and started practicing. Usually, I would miss them because it was after my practice. I saw the group perform balance and dynamic elements, and it was like a whole other world that I was yet to discover. I told myself and mom that day that I wanted to do this sport. It was a blessing in disguise, and I’m happy my mom was late picking me up, otherwise I would have never known the sport of acro.

Q. What were some of your favorite memories from early in your acrobatics career?
A. I remember traveling to Nationals in different states around the country. My favorite memory was my first Nationals in Palm Springs, California, back in 2007. I was in a Level 5 trio during that time, and I competed the first day and my trio was the first group to compete out of the whole competition. I liked it because you did one routine and you were done. That trip felt more like a vacation than going to a competition. I also remembered watching the Junior and Senior Elite athletes at night. I was inspired by those athletes, and I will never forget their amazing performances.

Q. And favorite memories from later in your acrobatics career?
A. I have so many favorite memories as a Senior Elite and all of them involve traveling internationally to World Cups representing the U.S. One of my favorite memories was the 2015 Varna World Cup in Bulgaria. Maren Merwarth and I, along with Senior Elite Mixed Pair, Kiley Boynton and Ryan Ward, represented Team USA at this competition. We had a lot fun touring Varna and getting to know other athletes from around the world. Kiley and Ryan supported us and helped to build Maren’s and my confidence because it was our first Senior World Cup competition. We received the bronze medal and became the first U.S. Senior Elite Women’s Pair to ever medal at a World Cup event. I felt truly honored and humbled by this. This is a memory I will never forget.

Q. You represented the USA at the highest level of competition, Senior Elite. What advice do you have for young acrobats dreaming to one day reach that level?
A. Continue to work hard and persevere through the hard days at practice or competition. When times get rough, that is when you have to push it through and keep moving forward. It’s easier said than done, but it is worth it in the end. Of course, hard work pays off, but it makes a huge difference if you have the right attitude. Attitude equals altitude. If your attitude is negative, then your practice or performance will match with it. This was something my parents always taught me. Now more than ever, I truly understand what this means. Also, have fun and enjoy it. Time goes by so quickly, and you never know if you are going to continue to compete or not. Eleven years of my acro career flew by, and there were times I wish I enjoyed it more instead of being negative. Definitely, enjoy the small moments at practice or at competitions with your partner(s), coach, friends and family.

Q. Now that you have retired from acro and are enjoying college life, what do you see as some of the "life lessons" that have carried with you from your acro days?
A. Being disciplined, patient and a role model. The discipline part comes from staying focused during practice, managing your time wisely with school and at practice, and being determined to finish off practice the right way. Patience is key for me because I tend to want things to happen when I want them to happen. This trait taught me life is not always going to go the way you expect it, and instead of trying to be in control of things, let it happen the way it should be. Lastly, being a role model is not only a high honor, it’s also very humbling. I believe a role model is someone that others look up to or are inspired to be yet it’s also about setting the right example for others by putting them first before yourself.

Q. You were recently elected to the USA Gymnastics Athletes' Council. What does this position involve and what are your goals for the upcoming year?
A. The U.S. Acro Athlete Representative serves all athletes in the sport and is the voice that bridges the gap between USA Gymnastics and the athletes. For me, the main goal is to continue to support the athletes and put their well-being first above all. I truly believe in this, and it’s very important to me to ensure that the athlete is safe and taken care of.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share?
A. I’m very happy that I’m a part of this amazing sport, and I hope it continues to grow in years to come. I believe acrobatic gymnastics deserves so much more, and I hope and pray that one day it will be in the Olympics. I encourage all former, present and future acrobatic gymnasts and the acro community to continue promoting our sport and show the world how we much we appreciate and love acrobatic gymnastics.