On Tuesday, October 31, Director of Athletics Roney Eford introduced Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez at an all-school meeting. A member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, Hernandez helped her teammates win gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, and also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Hernandez was also the winner of the coveted Mirror Ball trophy in the 23rd season of hit realty TV show Dancing With The Stars, and is the author of I Got This: To Gold and Beyond (Harper Collins) 2017.
Hernandez's elite gymnastics career began in 2012 at the U.S. Classic where she placed 11th in the junior division at the age of 12. Through the Classic, she qualified for the National Championships where she placed 22nd after two days of competition. In 2013, she placed second at Nationals. In 2014, Hernandez had a series of injuries including a fractured wrist, a torn patellar tendon, and dislocated kneecap, that resulted in a six-month absence from gymnastics while she recovered. Hernandez made her senior debut in 2016. At the Olympic Trials in July 2016, Hernandez placed second in the all-around, and was named to the Olympic team.
After sharing her journey to the Olympics with students, Hernandez sat down with Shade Mazer '19 who interviewed Hernandez about her attitude toward failure and facing hardships and her life as a teenager. Hernandez spoke about the support and encouragement she received from her family while working through injuries. "Gymnastics was my everything. So, it was difficult to work through my injuries. I've had to get surgeries, but I've also been able to come back stronger than ever." Her closing words of advice to students, "Be grateful that you are able to do what you love and do things that you're passionate about. Just don't forget to help other people and don't forget the people around you."
Hernandez, who has been home-schooled since third grade, and has not attended high school, said her time at Choate was "awesome."