NC student springboards onto an Ivy League gymnastics team


Courtesy of Istvan Pono

Senior Claire Haklik continues her gymnastic excellence after committing to Cornell.

Josh Joines , Reporter, Photographer


Beginning her career at age three, NC senior Claire Haklik succeeds both on and off the gymnastics floor. Haklik trains and competes with the Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta and her 12 year career includes success at local and national levels, eventually signing with Cornell.

Haklik’s accomplishments include sweeping level nine at the state level. When she rose to level ten, Haklik placed first on the bars, beam, floor, and all around in region against top gymnasts in eight southern states. The outstanding performance allowed her to advance through Eastern regional and then moved onto the gymnastics national championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although competing at nationals meant a lot to Haklik, receiving the opportunity of  training at The Karolyi Ranch, nicknamed “The Ranch” in Texas capped her career. The facility houses the Team USA gymnastics team and the selection for the Olympic team occurs there every four years. Claire spent a week focused on gymnastics, training with the top gymnasts in the country, and receiving advice from elite coaches associated with the olympic team.

All of this success caught the attention of a few of the 65 D1 collegiate women’s gymnastics programs. The programs range from small Division III schools, to the Pac 12 and Big 10, all the way to elite academic universities like Ivy League schools. Academics persistently swayed Haklik’s decision making process and towards the end of her recruiting journey she narrowed her choices down to Cornell, Yale, Brown, and Penn State. Haklik decided to continue her athletic and academic career at Cornell University.

“Once I stepped foot on campus I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else” Haklik said.

Haklik had one main reason for selecting Cornell. Last year, The Big Red won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship for women’s gymnastics. The success of the team sealed the deal and Haklik signed with Cornell late last year.

“Cornell is one of the best schools academically and has an amazing gymnastics program… I felt I could succeed academically and in gymnastics at Cornell” Haklik said.

When asked about how she achieves her goals Haklik says hard work and determination create the keys to success. Training 5 days a week for a minimum of four hours a day, this schedule creates a hectic homework schedule and she regularly does not arrive home until after 10pm on a normal night. Only then can she begin her homework assignments.

Haklik’s A.P. Comparative Government teacher Carolyn Galloway said, “Claire is a really diligent student… she understands if you want to succeed you have to put aside the time to do so.”

Diligence becomes crucial not only in her sport but for her academics because homework adds up quickly due to multiple AP classes she takes every semester as a student in the NC International Studies Magnet Program.

Her goal-oriented personality also pushed her success in sports and in the classroom: “My goal has always been to make a collegiate team and to go to the school that fits me best academically” Haklik said.

Even though Haklik cannot hide her excitement of joining the Cornell Big Reds next year, motivation remains: “I feel that right now my goal has been met but that does not stop the drive and determination  to always get better” Haklik said.

Haklik continues to struggles with injuries, but hopes to get a bid to nationals again this year. She believes competing at nationals would perfectly end a long and impressive career.  

Over the next four years, Claire wants to ensure she impacts Cornell both in the gym and on the campus. She also wants to seize the opportunities that studying on an Ivy League campus provides to students. Ultimately, Haklik cannot see what the next four years may bring, but she looks forward to the thrill of springing onto Cornell’s New York campus in fall 2017.