She’s got this! Olympian Laurie Hernandez hasn’t had time to take a breath since she and her teammates took home Olympic gold (and she took home a silver) in Rio last summer. After the Summer Games, the 16-year-old superstar toured with the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastic Champions and then scored another victory, taking home the Mirrorball trophy when she won season 23 of Dancing With the Stars. And now Hernandez is adding one more accomplishment to her growing list: author! Laurie’s first book, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, hits bookstore shelves on Tuesday, January 24.
Writing the YA memoir, Hernandez tells Us Weekly, was a process she really enjoyed.”It was interesting! I think the best part about it was being able to go back and look at all the memories I’ve had in gymnastics.” Hernandez said. Since she started training at age 5, naturally the gymnast says she had to occasionally call on her family to jog her memory. “I definitely looked to my parents for some of the memories – especially from when I was first starting out in gymnastics.” Hernandez says that they didn’t help too much, as she assures Us she took on most of the heavy lifting. “They helped a little bit, but basically I wrote the whole thing on my own!” Hernandez says. “The only parts I needed help on were childhood memories and making sure I had everything in order, because you know as a kid, you don’t remember – but with your mom taking pictures of you every five seconds it really helps!
The gymnast is anxious to share her inspiring story with her fans. Hernandez tells Us, “I put my heart into it. I think when people read the book, they’ll see that all the accomplishments I’ve done, they weren’t just given to me. I had to really work hard for them. I want to really inspire people to see that good things happen to those who work for them. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish all the goals that you want to. If you want something — you should go for it!”
And will there be a sequel? “Maybe in the future!” says Hernandez. “I do like writing. When I was a little kid I used to love writing funny, silly stories – and my mom would always encourage it. I don’t know why I ever stopped!” Next time, the gymnast says she’ll be prepared. “I regret not keeping a journal. But now I’ve started — maybe a little late, but I’ve started keeping a journal now!” she explains.
Since winning Dancing With the Stars with partner Val Chmerkovskiy on November 22, the athlete has been balancing homeschooling and performing on the Dancing With the Stars: Live! Tour, which will wrap up on February 14. The busy teenager says she isn’t tired of Dancing yet and looks forward to watching season 24 from home as a longtime fan. Explains Hernandez, “[After] being on the show, I know everything that goes on behind the scenes – it gives you such a big appreciation for all the pros and everything that goes into it.” And if the show ever asked her to sit behind the judges table? Laurie says she’d accept that position in a heartbeat. “That would be really cool! Yes, please! I would love that.”
And where does she keep her Mirrorball trophy? Hernandez says she gave it to someone very special — her mom! Explains Hernandez, “When I came home after DWTS, I had a couple of days, and I had actually given the Mirrorball to my mom. She loves to decorate the house, so I said, ‘Here, make it pretty, do what you want with it!’ And then she put it in the middle of the living room! And I was like, ‘Oh, OK!’ It was really cute.” Even though Hernandez has taken home a lot of awards, inspiring kids to follow in her footsteps, she says, may be the best prize of all. “The best part is when parents come up to me with their kids and they say, ‘My daughter started gymnastics because of you.’ It’s really nice to hear that what I did encouraged kids to try something new too.”
Hernandez’s new memoir, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, is available now.