GU gymnasts score a perfect 10 by encouraging local teen
Published: January 12, 2024
Author: Dave Bell
A birth defect that left Tanner Jordan with limited use of his legs hasn’t kept him from trying his hand at gymnastics.
The 15-year-old freshman at Bond County Community Unit High School in Greenville started his gymnastics journey in the fall of 2022, when the community was invited to participate in classes at the newly opened Greenville Gymnastics Center.
“My mom heard about the program, and wanted me to try it,” Jordan said. “I started taking private lessons at first, but now I get to practice at the same time as the Greenville University Gymnastics team. I can’t do several events because of my legs, but I am able to do things on the pommel horse and the rings.”
Jordan was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a birth defect in which the bones of the lower spine are either malformed or missing. That often results in the leg bones being underdeveloped.
“I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do,” Jordan said, “but doing the gymnastics workouts has made my upper body stronger and helped me get around better. I feel like I’m making progress.”
Jordan is the son of Charity Quick and Curt Jordan.
“We’ve never held him back if he wanted to try something,” Charity said. “I was excited to have him try gymnastics, because he’s strong and I felt there would be some events he could do. But the impact on Tanner has been more positive than we could’ve imagined. I can see a huge difference in how he acts; he’s become more responsible and he’s serious about training.”
As Jordan’s gymnastics skills have progressed, so have his relationships with members of the GU Gymnastics Team.
“The guys on the team have really embraced him,” said Assistant Coach Jake Bonnay, a former gymnast at the University of Nebraska. “They view him as a younger brother, and they’re always there for him, cheering him on. It’s cool to see them interact with him, especially when he learns a new skill or does a good routine on the pommel horse. For many of them, it’s been a learning experience to be around someone who isn’t as fortunate physically as they are.”
Bonnay admits that it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “In the beginning, it was a challenge to introduce him to a totally new sport,” he said. “He was strong, but he had to learn all kinds of new skills. After a few sessions, though, he began to show his capabilities. His upper-body strength made it possible for him to progress and master some of the basic skills – especially on the pommel horse.”
Charity is thankful for the impact the gymnastics program has had on her son – and the community as a whole. “I couldn’t ask for a better thing to come into Tanner’s life,” she said. “It’s been good for him in so many ways. Opening the Gymnastics Center to the community has allowed many young people to participate in the sport.”
Jordan works out with the team on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and lifts weights at a local gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“It makes me feel good that I can stay active and learn new skills,” Jordan said. “I’m stronger than I was before doing gymnastics, and I’ve lost 10 or 15 pounds.”
More importantly, he’s gained a couple dozen big brothers who are always ready to cheer him on and give him a fist bump when he masters a new skill.