Injury setback launches Gophers gymnast into new creative project

When it comes to gymnastics, some enjoy it, while others like Ella Sirjord can’t get enough.

"My whole life, honestly, I started when I was three," Ella Sirjord said when describing how long she's been in the sport.

For Sirjord, Minnesota gymnastics was all she knew and ever wanted. "I was going to meets and being like ‘these girls are insane, they’re crazy good, that’s insane I want to do that,'" Sirjord said.

But after an ACL tear in high school, and the COVID-19 pandemic impacting her senior year, Sirjord thought she would have to re-think her college plans.

"I thought gymnastics were over," she said. "Didn’t know where I was going to go."

For a while, Sirjord said she contemplated going to Division III to play lacrosse, but she never gave up on her original plan. In the midst of the pandemic, college recruiting was essentially non-existent. So Sirjord started marketing herself, sending non-stop videos to coaches before she eventually got the call she had been praying for.

"When [the University of Minnesota] said we have a spot for you, I thought they were calling me to say sorry, no, you're not on the team," said Sirjord, explaining the moment her dream came true. "So definitely it was just a rush of emotions."

But shortly after stepping on campus, adversity struck, again.

"I tore my ACL, again," Sirjord said.

Instead of sulking, Sirjord sought to keep her mind busy with iMovie on her MacBook Pro. The love began when she created a video for her senior class celebrating a COVID-19-impacted senior year.

"I made this huge compilation of like the whole senior year and I didn’t think I was going to get the reaction I did," she explains.

That reaction inspired her to keep going and eventually someone from the Gopher digital team would catch wind of her work. One year later, Sirjord was creating the intro video for Gopher Gymnastics.

"I would never in a million years think I was making an intro video for the team," said Sirjord.

That video has now been viewed by thousands of people on Twitter. For the man over Gopher digital, Joel Larsen said the most fascinating part of Sirjord’s work is when she gets it done.

"Ella is the one that’s committed to coming in after hours if you will, so she’s coming in late nights and early mornings," said Larsen. 

Sirjord’s work with Gopher digital comes after a full day of academics and athletics, of course. But like gymnastics, she can’t get enough.

"It’s easy to do something you’re passionate about," Sirjord said. "It doesn’t really feel like work when you’re doing something you love."