BY: USA GAMES CORRESPONDENT, MIKE GASTINEAU
Lauren Petrick was settling into what she thought her career was going to be.
The Florida native had been a competitive gymnast in her youth and by high school had decided she wanted to be a coach. While attending the University of Florida she coached a rec class and upon graduation, she turned her passion into a living by landing a job at a South Florida gymnastics facility.
“She was training high-level teams and taking them to national competitions,” said her cousin Morgan Petrick. “That’s what she was going to do with her life.”
Then, one night, her boss approached his employees with a request. He had a friend whose son William had an intellectual disability. His friend thought William could benefit from learning gymnastics and he needed someone from the facility to agree to work with him.
Lauren volunteered. And her life’s path changed. Instead of being someone who coached gymnastics, she became someone who specialized in working with aspiring gymnasts who have intellectual disabilities.