Athlete of the Week: Riley Grunberg


Dustin Vickers

Riley Grunberg records an out first base during a game against North Texas earlier this week. Grunberg is hitting .324 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs this season.

Isabella McGovern, Assistant Magazine Editor

Riley Grunberg is a softball player at UTSA. She is a senior, a mechanical engineering major and is from Corpus Christi, Texas. Born on July 28, 2000, Grunberg is the daughter of Christi Simpson and Brian Grunberg and the sister of Addyson Grunberg. She went to Flour Bluff High School and was awarded many titles, such as three-time Academic All-District, two-time 5A All-State, 2018 First-Team All-District, Academic All-State in 2018 and more. Grunberg also appeared in playoffs all four years of high school. 

Grunberg started playing softball when she was young. She started out playing T-ball and Coach-pitch, but after playing Kid-pitch, her parents noticed that she really enjoyed playing the sport, so at the age of 10 she started playing club. Grunberg said she tried playing other sports, but softball was the one sport she was exceptionally passionate about. 

“It’s been something that I [have] been passionate about for a really long time,” Grunberg said. “It’s crazy that I am on my senior year now.”

Her recruitment story is different compared to most college athletes. Grunberg was originally committed to a different university during her junior year of high school. After some changes in coaching staff at the other school, she stepped down from that commitment and kept looking for other colleges. It is difficult to get recruited to a university during junior and senior years of high school, but when Grunberg went to a softball camp at UTSA, an opportunity revealed itself. UTSA recruiters called her back after a couple of weeks to tour the campus, and offered her a position on their softball team, but with no scholarship. Even so, Grunberg wanted to play Division 1 softball and decided to take the chance by working toward earning a scholarship, which she later accomplished. She stated it was one of her biggest accomplishments at UTSA. 

Grunberg has played a variety of positions at UTSA over the course of her career and it is something she’s very proud of.

“We’ve had some times in the past where we needed somebody to step up and fill in a position,” Grunberg said. “I went ahead and tried my best and was able to be successful in multiple positions on the field”

During her freshman year, she was a designated hitter. In her sophomore year, she played second base then transitioned into playing first baseman her junior and senior years. Grunberg said it was an easy transition from second to first base because in high school she played both of those positions. She believes that she excels more at first base because of her height and body type.

“Second base, in my opinion, is a more difficult position,” Grunberg said. “First base, I just basically need to be a wall for all the other defenders.”

When it comes to stepping up to the plate, Grunberg states that confidence is the biggest thing you need to have, along with trusting that you have practiced enough and have the ability to perform well during the game. She has been one of the best hitters on the team since she started playing for UTSA. 

“It’s easy to let your mind take over when you are up to bat, so it is important that you trust yourself and let your confidence take over.” 

Grunberg is a three-time recipient of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal. She said she was raised in a household where academics were extremely important. Her mom and dad both graduated from college and were great examples of how crucial getting an education is. Academics have been a top priority to Grunberg and she believes it has made her into the person she is today. 

When it came to the decision of what major she wanted to pursue and what career path she wanted to take, Grunberg didn’t know where to start. In high school, she bounced around ideas about what she wanted to pursue. Grunberg thought about going into the medical field, but quickly realized it was not right for her. She noticed right away how strong she was at math, especially when she took some calculus courses in high school. Grunberg enjoyed it and subsequently decided to enter the engineering field. She originally started as a chemical engineering major but found it was not for her, so she switched to the mechanical engineering degree plan. Grunberg used her confidence in math to choose the degree plan best fit for her.

“It’s been great learning so many different things about mechanical systems,” Grunberg said. “Being a woman in STEM is something I take a lot of pride in, because … I have still been in a lot of classes where there [are] like 20% girls [and] 80% guys.”

Grunberg doesn’t have a specific type of engineering she wants to do yet, but she says the world of engineering is broad and has her options open to anything. 

Outside of sports and academics, she has many hobbies. She likes reading when she gets the chance and loves spending time with her family. Grunberg also loves fishing, being outdoors and visiting the coast in Corpus Christi. She is also the owner of two Corgis which are her pride and joy. They keep her happy when life gets hectic, especially from school and playing softball. She is looking forward to graduation because once she is done, Grunberg knows she will have a lot more free time to do all the things she loves back home in Corpus Christi. 

As for goals for the rest of the season, she wants people and her teammates to remember her as a person who made everyone laugh and worked really hard. Over her years of playing softball, Grunberg said she realized that it’s not about the numbers or awards when it comes to playing softball. 

“I am not really in it for the glory; more so in it for the memories,” Grunberg said.

 She doesn’t have any award goals but instead wants to enjoy the rest of the season because softball doesn’t last forever. 

“Hopefully, women’s sports begins to be something more people want to watch so that one day girls can have a professional stage they can play on, but unfortunately it’s just not how it is right now,” Grunberg said. 

Grunberg believes women’s sports are beginning to gain more attention because the Women’s College World Series has shown that more people are interested in watching softball, and hopes that one day it will become its own major professional sports league.