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Sticks and stones may break your bones but nothing breaks Haylie Hendrickson

The UA gymnast has constantly fought injuries throughout her career, but she didn’t let them stop her from getting to Arizona

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett for Arizona Athletics | Rebecca Marie Sasnett for Arizona Athletics

Sophomore Haylie Hendrickson engages in the balance beam during an Arizona Gymnastics tri-meet against Utah State and Texas Women's University, Jan. 6, 2017 in McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz. 

Determined.

The one word you’d use to describe Arizona Gymnastics sophomore Haylie Hendrickson.

Starting gymnastics at the age of 6, Hendrickson’s goal in life was to go to the Olympics. Beginning out at a very small non-competitive gym in Gilbert, Arizona, Hendrickson knew she loved gymnastics from the moment she started.

“I actually ended up being pretty good, so I decided to switch over to another gym called Gold Medal Gymnastics, and that’s where I met my coach Amanda Borden,” Hendrickson said.

Amanda Borden was the captain of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team that took home the gold medal. Borden opened up Gold Medal Gymnastics where she took Hendrickson under her wing.

“[Borden] inspired me to love gymnastics,” Hendrickson said. “She always called me her mini-me, and I wanted to be just like her.”

Hendrickson started to learn new skills rapidly and moved up to level six with the help of Borden.

“After moving up to level six, my family had to move to Indiana because of my moms job,” Hendrickson said, “so I started looking around for gymnastics gyms.”

Moving to the small town of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Hendrickson had to find a new gym where she could continue to get the coaching she needed, but she had some requirements when picking the gym.

Young Haylie Hendrickson on the balance beam. 

“I chose my gym based on how many Russians there were,” Hendrickson said. “I wanted to be an Olympian and they were the best. So I became part of the team Set-10 at More Than Gymnastics.”

By the age of 14 Hendrickson knew the little girl dream of being an Olympian was out of the question and soon transformed it into the goal of being a collegiate athlete.

Hendrickson is always determined to achieve the goals she sets for herself. She says her determination comes from her father, Wayne Hendrickson, who is a former wrestler at the University of Wisconsin.

Wayne Hendrickson saw how determined Haylie was from the first time in gymnastics when she was just learning how to do a gainer.

“She was having a difficult time getting it,” Wayne said. “She did it hundreds and hundreds of times and parents around were talking about this young blonde girl who was so determined and constantly getting back up there and trying it again.”

As Hendrickson continued to advance her skills, injuries became an issue. Hendrickson’s first injury was a fracture in her back, then she sustained injuries to both of her ankles.

“My sophomore year in high school I sprained both ankles at the same time doing a round-off back handspring, one and a half punch front, and when I punched off the floor both of my ankles gave out,” Hendrickson said.

Courtesy Haylie Hendrickson

Arizona Gymnast Haylie Hendrickson competes as a child.

Hendrickson never gave up; she pushed to recover because she knew the comeback would be worth it. During her junior year of high school, Hendrickson started focusing on where she would attend college.

“I started sending videos of myself to colleges,” Hendrickson said. “I began to get feedback so I knew I was going in the right direction.”

Hendrickson’s determination helped her qualify for nationals, which was an important step after recovering from her injuries.

“It was huge for me because then a lot of colleges could look at me and I could get some offers because I didn’t have any yet,” Hendrickson said.

The day after Hendrickson got back from qualifying, she encountered yet another injury. While doing a release move on the uneven bars, Hendrickson missed the high bar and landed on her hands causing a dislocated elbow.

But Hendrickson didn’t let injuries get in the way. Hendrickson stayed cautious and healthy as she started her senior year of high school.

“Going into my senior year I was fully dedicated to gymnastics,” Hendrickson said. “It was the best I have ever been.”

Colleges including Iowa, Missouri, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona were offering scholarships to Hendrickson.

“I had quite a few visits before Arizona, and then I came to Arizona and I fell in love with it,” Hendrickson said. “Everyone told me I would just know that I wanted to go there, so after my last visit with Missouri I called Arizona and committed.”

Unfortunately, Hendrickson was unable to compete with the Arizona Gymnastics team her freshman year and redshirted due to two knee injuries.

Courtesy Haylie Hendrickson

Haylie Hendrickson does a flip on the balance beam during a gymnastics meet.

In January of 2015 Hendrickson tore her right ACL during a competition in her senior year of high school. Hendrickson had surgery and soon was able to get back on the floor and attend the UA.

Days before Arizona’s first competition Hendrickson’s knee started to feel “weird” and “loose” while practicing. Her knee then shifted out of place and she was forced to push it back. Hendrickson thought everything was going to be OK, but there was bad news.

“I got an MRI and then called me into [the head coach of Arizona Gymnastics Tabitha Yim’s] office; I saw our sports trainer and I knew it wasn’t good,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson had to get surgery on her knee once again on Jan. 28, 2016.

“I didn’t think I could do it the first time and then the second time happened,” Hendrickson said. “I feel really accomplished that I’ve come back as far that I am right now.”

During her freshman year, Hendrickson was only able to experience college gymnastics from the sidelines, but is now healthy and able to compete in the 2017 season.

“Last year she struggled a lot and it was really hard to see my best friend going through that, but her determination this year helps everyone else on the team be excited to work hard,” said Hendrickson’s roommate and teammate Skyler Sheppard.

Hendrickson placed her hands on the balance beam for the Arizona Gymnastics team and showed what she had to offer during her first meet ever as a sophomore in McKale Center on Jan. 6.

Hendrickson is currently a physiology major and is hoping to one day become an anesthesiologist assistant. Anesthesiology caught Hendrickson’s attention due to the many times she has been put under for surgery and finds how it works fascinating.

You can watch Hendrickson perform on the uneven bars and beam during the Arizona Gymnastics 2017 season.


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