An post! I know I know, it’s been a while but life has had some interesting choices for me. However I do have something to post about.
US Champs are coming up and there will definitely some interesting things going on. In the next couple of years running up to 2012, there are going to be a lot of new faces (it is Gymnastics after all) and a bunch of old ones, including but not limited to Shawn Johnson, Bridget Sloan, Ivan Hong, and what the other part of this post is about, Joey Haggerty. I’ve know about him since he came onto the national scene (2005) but didn’t become a fan of his till 2007. His quite determination and just getting down to business is amazing and I love him for it. Here is a great article on him from USA Gymnastics:
Two decades ago, when pint-sized Joey Hagerty saw his three older sisters tumbling around in a gym, he could not help but get in on the action.
“I was in the gym anyway, so I just followed suit,” recalled Hagerty.
Many parents usually picture their sons doing sports like football, basketball or soccer, but when they found out Joey wanted to do gymnastics, the Hagertys were more than supportive.
“They loved it. That’s why they had the three girls in it, because they thought it was so unique and so spectacular. My mom and dad aren’t very big. Obviously, I’m tiny, so they said ‘It’s perfect, let’s put him in this sport where he could excel at being small too.’ ”
Yet in actuality, Joey is the first to admit gymnastics was not his first choice.
“If it was up to me, I would’ve been a football player, but probably would have died.”
Twenty one years later, Hagerty remains pint-sized, at a whopping 5-feet 4-inches, a perfect height for a gymnast. However, dedicating one’s life to any sport is not easy, especially gymnastics. For most of his career, he has had to worry about the monthly cost of participating in a club program. Although he is on the national team now, Hagerty still faces the costly travel expenses that come with competing at the elite level.
Joey easily admits he would not have made it this far in the sport if it weren’t for his parents.
“It’s hard to support yourself, that’s why you have to have a good backing, which my parents absolutely were. They did so much for me and my three sisters growing up, and it’s hard to pay back what they’ve done.”
Joey’s father, Mike Hagerty, owns a door company in Rio Rancho, N.M., where Joey is from. While running his own business consumes much of Mike’s daily life, he still made time to watch Joey compete.
“He was so busy doing that, so my mom would take us back and forth to practice, but he loved it. He loved watching us do gymnastics and stuff,” Joey remembers fondly.
As all gymnasts do, Joey dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games. When he made the senior national team in 2005, he was one step closer to fulfilling his dream. That year, Joey moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to devote all of his time and attention to his training, with the hopes of making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
In 2008, Joey was one of the best in the nation and on track for one of the 6 coveted spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team. Everything was going as planned until he received a phone call just a few weeks before the 2008 National Championships, and a few months before Olympic Trials.
“My sister called me, and it was probably 1:00 in the morning. ‘Dad was in a car accident, they’re taking him to the hospital. We’re not sure what happened to him.’ I immediately started packing my bag, ready to go home, but she said, ‘No just wait until we find out everything, then maybe you can come tomorrow.’”
Mike Hagerty had hit a washout on a dirt road, and rolled his car approximately five times. Thinking back on the incident, Joey says, “The paramedics couldn’t find him for a while, because he was out in the mesa of New Mexico, the desert. But they ended up finding him and taking him back to the hospital.” Mike broke his neck and several other bones, and had to be in a halo for the next eight months.
Joey immediately put his Olympic dreams aside and drove five hours back to New Mexico to visit his father that weekend, and every weekend that followed. “It does damper your training, but who cares. It didn’t even factor into my brain. I was more concerned about my dad than anything,” Joey said.
Two months after the accident, no one thought Mike would be able to see his son compete at Olympic Trials, especially because they were being held in Philadelphia. But Mike wasn’t about to let a car accident – or a halo – stop him from cheering his son on to his lifelong dream.
Joey admires his father’s determination to make the long trip for him, and says his performance at Trials was truly for his father. “I found out like two days before that he would be coming. He showed up, in his halo. I don’t even know how he made the flight, but he showed up. Olympic Trials was more for him than anybody. I would say I wanted to make the team for me, but at that point it was all for my dad.”
After years of hard work, high costs, and injuries, the Hagertys’ dream came true – following Olympic Trials, Joey was named to the Beijing 2008 Olympic team. Joey made the team for his father, and it was all worth it when they were reunited after Trials.
“He was so happy, he was so excited that we actually accomplished one of the major goals in life. Only 6 people every 4 years make the men’s gymnastics team, and to be one of them is just an overwhelming experience,” says Joey.
Mike’s dedication didn’t stop there. In August, he made the trek across the world with Joey’s mother and sister to Beijing. “He was still in his halo. That’s a long flight to be in a halo and not be able to move. I’m very proud of him for that, that’s quite a feat,” adds Joey.
The 2008 U.S. men’s gymnastics team consisted of zero household names and two alternates, after Paul and Morgan Hamm had pulled out due to injuries. The team qualified in 6th place for the team all-around finals, but their chances weren’t looking good for a medal. Yet when it mattered most, the underdogs managed to surprise the world, and pull off a bronze medal performance in the last few minutes of the final, surpassing the teams from South Korea, Russia and Germany.
“That was even more of an overwhelming experience. Hearing the crowd chant ‘USA,’ 40,000 people being there, it was a crazy, crazy event. Even to this day people are like, ‘Oh my god that’s the Olympic medalist from gymnastics,’ and you’re like ‘What? Who? Oh yeah!’ So it still takes time to get used to,” Joey says of his success.
Two years later, he is still getting used to it, but he hasn’t left the sport. Joey had surgery on his shoulder in December, so he’s in the middle of recovering while training for his next goal. He explained, “I’m just trying to get healthy and go to Nationals, and make the World team this year, and then the ultimate goal is London.”
While Joey is recovering from his latest injury, Mike Hagerty has fully recovered from his. Mike has been out of the halo for over a year now, and is able to move around freely. Mike has taken advantage of his full mobility, and has been living life to the fullest since the accident, and Joey loves seeing his father have this new perspective.
“He paints a lot now. He actually just went on a trip to Egypt for two weeks, got to ride on the Nile. He’s enjoying life more, now that he’s been close to death. He’s very mellow, laid back, enjoying everything. He tried sushi for the first time and loves it.”
Joey goes home once a month now, to visit his family, and cherishes the quality time he gets to spend with them.
“My dad has this little place he calls ‘Dogpatch,’ kinda out in the middle of nowhere and we tend to buy him gifts for that place. He loves that place. He’s always trying to fix it up, so we got him an outdoor pit one year, and we always sit around that thing, toast marshmallows, stuff like that – so that’s probably one of the best things we’ve gotten him.”
Aside from the pride of having a bronze-medal winning son. Source
I’ll have more as it gets closer to CoverGirl Classic time