Davis has hopes of getting a college scholarship
In many ways, Havelock High’s Hailey Davis is a typical freshman. She enjoys a good photobomb. She’s already thinking about graduation and where she may attend college.
But she walks a thin line – well, actually a four-inch wide beam about four feet in the air. And, she does much more than walk it. She does flips and tucks and twists on it, and a couple of weeks ago, she did it better than anyone else.
Davis captured first place overall in the Atlanta Crown gymnastics competition Jan. 7. She’s a level 10 gymnast, the highest level that can be attained in youth gymnastics other than elite status when competitors can attempt to reach Olympic level.
“When I found out I was first, I was kind of confused because normally that stuff doesn’t happen to me,” said Davis, the daughter of a Cherry Point Marine. “It was exciting to have a win. I really didn’t expect it. The meet didn’t go super well, but it was great to start the season off with a good competition.”
Davis performed better on the floor exercise, uneven bars, vault and the balance beam than any other level 10 gymnast at the competition. Not only were the events challenging, but the logistics of the competition weren’t easy either.
“They had me up last in every event,” she said. “It was kind of nerve-racking to go after people in every event, especially on balance beam.”
Besides beating the other competitors, she also beat Mother Nature. A snowstorm prompted schedule changes that kept her and her fellow gymnasts on their heels.
“They delayed my session,” she said, adding that the delay was about three hours. “I didn’t really know what time I was going to be competing until about an hour before, so it was kind of frantic and stressful, but at the same time I was excited because it was the first meet.”
Stephanie Bruno at New Bern Gymnastics has been Davis’ coach for about the last five years.
“She has a lot of raw talent, a lot of natural ability, but plain and simple, she doesn’t like to lose,” Bruno said of Davis. “The best thing about her is that she’s internally motivated. I don’t have to spend my coaching time trying to motivate her. She is very motivated on her own.
“She loves competition. When competition season comes around, she lives for it. She likes practice, but she loves competition. She’s got some grit. I’m not going to lie.”
Davis’ parents, Sarah and David Davis, who is a Cherry Point Marine with Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, put her in a toddler class when she was just 2 years old. She said her coach when she was 8, Elizabeth Metcalf, put it in her mind that she could excel in the sport.
“She told me, ‘hey you’re good,’” she said.
While she enjoys competing, she said there’s another aspect of gymnastics that brings her joy.
“I enjoy the environment with the coaches and the team,” she said. “It’s become like a family. I’ve been here so long that we’re so close.”
Her 33 teammates at New Bern Gymnastics also enjoyed a successful meet in Atlanta, earning multiple medals and winning multiple events.
In the short term, Davis has nine more meets before the end of May, including a trip to Mobile, Ala. She looks then toward the eight-state regional meet, where the top seven finishers than advance to the national meet.
But, she also sees a bigger picture.
“I’m just hoping to get a college scholarship and get on a good team,” she said.
Her coach hopes that happens.
“I really want her to continue and get the college scholarship and to have that experience,” said Bruno, who was a gymnast at N.C. State. “I was able to do that myself, and it’s a phenomenal experience.”