Athlete Of The Week 3-7

Our Athlete Of The Week Is Paxton Henley

Our Athlete Of The Week Is Paxton Henley

14-year-old Paxton Henley is no stranger to adversity. The level 10 gymnast suffered a bad dislocation of her elbow last year that forced her to sit for more than 2 months, then returned to win the Elite Challenge just weeks later. Last weekend, with three bulging discs in her back, Henley was at it again, finishing 2nd at the VIP Classic in Evansville, Indiana.

“While I was performing, I didn’t feel anything at all. I think just my mind was somewhere else, I didn’t really focus on my back. I was more focused about the competition and how I was gonna do.”

The gutsy performance, perhaps surprising to a casual spectator, was far from it for Manning head coach Chad Ganaway. Ganaway has worked with Paxton for five years and understands better than anyone the work she puts in, even in the face of injury.

“You know, she comes in, works hard. Even if she’s in pain, she’ll come in and do work off the trampoline, do a lot of stretching exercises. A lot of times when people are hurt, they won’t put in the effort. And she continues to work through the pain, and that’s what sets her apart.”

Reaching the podium at the VIP was just part of a special week for Henley. The day after competition, she won front row tickets to a Blake Shelton concert in Evansville, where the country music star threw her a guitar pick.

”I was like running around, telling my parents let’s go down there, let’s go. And so whenever they said it was front row, I was like.”

Suffice it to say this was one of the better weeks of your life, Paxton?

“Yes, for sure.”

Sean Coffey, Newscenter 25 Sports.