Catching up with Laurie Hernandez & Coach Maggie Haney (USA)


In 2012, Laurie Hernandez of MG Elite finished 21st in the all-around at the U.S. Junior National Championships with a score of 101.900. One year later, she improved her junior national ranking to 2nd with a score of 116.650, which would have placed 4th in the senior division, an impressive feat for a 13-year-old. There have been few occasions when a gymnast has made such an incredible rise in such a short period of time. But as Laurie shows time and time again, she isn’t just an ordinary gymnast.

At the 2013 P&G Championships, Laurie displayed her amazing dance and artistry, powerful vaulting technique, and easy swing on uneven bars en route to one of the most spectacular performances of the meet. In addition to her AA silver, Laurie placed 4th on vault, 2nd on bars, 3rd on beam, and 2nd on floor.

Laurie and her longtime coach Maggie Haney note that the P&G Championships was one of their biggest accomplishments of 2013.  “[It] was definitely a major highlight,” Maggie told Full Twist. “I was so happy that she hit 8 for 8 and finished 2nd all-around.”

Laurie agreed that it was a great moment. “That was so awesome!”

“I knew she was capable but it was so great when it actually happened,” Maggie added.

Another highlight of 2013 was when Laurie was awarded two international assignments in the fall: one in Japan, and another in Mexico. Between the two competitions, she won three gold, two silvers, and two bronze medals. But in January 2014, Laurie suffered an injury. “Unfortunately, we missed all of the international competitions for this year,” said Maggie.

But Laurie is planning to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic on August 2nd and at the P&G Championships on August 21-24.

When asked about how 2014 will be different than last year, Maggie observed, “I think there are more expectations this year. We are a little behind due to her injury. She was [in a cast] for 8 weeks and then had to do therapy for 4 more weeks; so that was a major setback. So really we are just trying to keep up this year!”

This month, Laurie attended her first national team training camp since November, and she said it went very well. “I am so happy to be back!” said Laurie. “I really missed everyone. The girls all jumped on me when I got there! Training is going so much better now. It was so hard at first.”

“Laurie did a great job at the May camp,” Maggie remarked. “She has not been there since November, so she really needed to be back in that environment. Martha was ‘very happy’ with how she looked considering she was coming off an injury.” A video of Laurie training at the May camp .

With just over two months until the U.S. Classic, Laurie is busily preparing her routines for the summer season. “I really missed out on the time of year for training upgrades . . . but I have added a front layout-front 2 ½ twist on floor. I love that pass! On beam I added a front pike. And on bars I learned a piked stalder hecht; but I do not have time to incorporate it into my routine this year,” Laurie explained. “I want to be really consistent on my routines.”

Maggie also feels strongly that consistency is important in the long run, with Rio 2016 drawing nearer. “We only have a few upgraded skills this year; so hopefully she will stay healthy and by next year she will be at a high skill level,” Maggie said. “Then we can focus on all the small details; landings, artistry, etc. from 2015 to 2016 without having to add many skills in that last year.”

For 2014, Laurie will be keeping the same floor routine that won her many accolades in 2013, but as she noted, “We made some changes. I will have a new [floor routine] next year though!”

Laurie and Maggie are both in favor of the new 0.1 bonus for stuck landings that will now be awarded at U.S. competitions. “I think it’s smart,” Maggie commented. “[It] makes us as coaches focus more on landings.” Laurie concurs: “I love it!”

The gymnastics world is looking forward to all that Laurie has to offer this summer, as she is one of the top gymnasts in the junior division. She is perhaps one of the most artistic gymnasts ever to come out of the United States program, and she has a rare balance across all four apparatus. Laurie’s favorite things about gymnastics are performing release moves and dancing on floor, which is evidenced by her talent for both.

When asked about the best part of coaching Laurie, Maggie said, “Laurie is a very happy kid. She is special. She is almost always smiling. I also love seeing her mental growth over the past year. She is a much smarter kid now than she was a year ago!”

And when Laurie Hernandez takes the floor at the Secret U.S. Classic, one can be sure to expect a special performance.

Many thanks to Laurie Hernandez and Maggie Haney for taking the time to chat with Full Twist!

Related: 10 minutes with: Laurie Hernandez (May 2013)

Article by Anna Rose Johnson

Photo via USAG on Facebook

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