My name is Yul Moldauer. I'm a 22-year-old NCAA gymnast and have been on the US National Team for the past eight years. Since I was a little child, I dreamed about becoming a professional gymnast. After long discussions with my family and peers to figure out how to best pursue this dream, I decided to go to college first and earn a degree in business management.
It was a difficult decision to not turn professional right away as my whole life revolved around gymnastics. Looking back, choosing to go to college was one of the smartest and most beneficial decisions of my life.
My Way to Oklahoma
Picking a college was a very stressful time for me. I ended up taking only three recruiting trips instead of the five I had initially planned on. Those five were Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, and Oklahoma.
Such an important decision will not only determine where you live, or earn your degree, but also decide which school and brand you will represent. Everything comes with pros and cons. Personally, I believe that any university will help you get a degree as long as you are a disciplined individual. Most universities will also provide great housing options, medical staff, and coaches. So, what factors really determine what's best for your academic & athletic career?
This is what I did. I listened to my emotions. I tried to ignore all the other factors and simply listened to my heart. I chose Oklahoma because it immediately felt like home. There was some sort of force that captivated me right from the get-go.
Many people think that I signed with Oklahoma because they have the most national titles, the most Olympians, or the most national team members. But in reality, it was the environment that pulled me in.
It seemed like everyone at OU was treated the same. We all know that Football and Men's Basketball receive most media attention but the moment I stepped foot on campus and told people that I was a recruit for the OU Men's Gymnastics team, they made me feel welcome, appreciated, and valued. They wanted to know my name, what my specialty was...
If you are a student-athlete at Oklahoma, you can just sense the energy from the fans. Not because of their love for a particular sport, but their dedication and passion for the university.
Throughout the years, Oklahoma really made me relevant and respected. Men's Gymnastics may not be considered the most fan-appealing sport but OU did a great job highlighting this program.
My Career To-Date
Ending up at OU has literally been life-changing. During my first year, I earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National team, won the All-Around title as a freshman at The National Championships (only the second one in history to do so), and earned three All-American honors. From that moment on, I believe, this is where my career started to really take off.
In 2016, I got a chance to compete at the 2016 Olympic trials and placed fifth. I also won floor and ring titles at NCAAs along with seven All-American accolades.
2017 was doubtlessly the most successful season of my life. I won the Wintercup challenge, USA National Championship, American Cup (which is the biggest international competition in the US), and earned a spot on the World Championship Team where I won a bronze medal on floor and placed 7th in the all-around.
Also, at the 2017 NCAA Championships, I won the titles on floor, vault, parallel bars, and the all-around. I was the runner-up on rings and pommel horse.
Combined, I now have a school record of seven individual national titles and 15 All-American honors.
College Is The Way To Go
I encourage everyone to attend college to not only grow as an athlete but most importantly, as a person. The NCAA has provided me with an opportunity that allows me to strive as a student, but also as an athlete. I can live my gymnastics dream but also pursue my educational ambitions. Without the NCAA and the University of Oklahoma, I could have not done so.
I will never have enough words to express my gratitude to everyone that has helped me get to where I am today. I do want to say thank you to my family, my coaches, the medical staff, my teachers, my friends, and my teammates. Without these people in my life, all my awards and accomplishments would be nothing but dust-collectors. So, thank you all for your endless love, support, and encouragement.
What is so crazy to me is that the thought of not going to college was always on my mind. I know that I would be nowhere near where I am today if it was not for Oklahoma and my team.
To all the athletes out there that are stuck trying to figure out the right path, listen to your heart and I can ensure you you will make the right decision.