NJ Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez goes pro while in Rio
Laurie Hernandez is teaching folks in Rio what it means to be a Jersey Girl.
By the looks of her Instagram account, I'd say lesson one is "work hard and remember to have fun."
The Old Bridge teen and Olympic gymnast is keeping her social media accounts current while at the summer games (where she's got plenty of elite New Jersey company).
The 16-year-old has been working toward this Olympic goal for most of her young life. She's been home-schooled since third grade, logging hours of gym time with coach Maggie Haney in Monmouth and Mercer Counties. Monmouth Gymnastics Academy in Morganville is her 'home base'. She's also practiced at Gymland in Hamilton.
While awaiting her first competition in Rio, Hernandez announced on Wednesday that she's going pro. That means Laurie will give up her NCAA eligibility to continue her elite gymnastics career.
When talking about her close-knit Jersey family, Hernandez is quick to credit her parents, Wanda and Anthony, for their solid support yet willingness to 'step back' and let her train.
Laurie's got a couple of "pieces of Jersey" with her in Rio, aside from loved ones in the crowd. There's a teddy bear that "needs" to be in her room. A bracelet that a family friend prayed over and had blessed is something she brings "everywhere."
If you're wondering if the two youngest NJ Olympians know each other ... kinda.
In a typical case of the "small world of New Jersey," Laurie told us last month that fellow Jersey Girl Sydney McLaughlin was an acquaintance of Laurie's older brother from track competitions. So, she's keeping an eye out for the Dunellen hurdler at the summer games.
With her new pro status, we're sure to see Hernandez land some sponsorship deals. Maybe we'll even see her thousand-watt smile grinning at us from a box of cereal.
We’re cheering for you Laurie, and the rest of our “NJ in Rio” squad!
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.