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Chappaqua Coaches Reflect On Olympian John Orozco

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – John Orozco officially made the United States Olympics Gymnastics team on Saturday. His former coaches and teammates at World Cup Gymnastics in Chappaqua have been closely following Orozco’s road to London and now eagerly await his performances in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Jason Hebert, head coach and director at World Cup Gymnastics, worked closely with Orozco as his primary coach in the gymnast’s last three years at the gym. Hebert realized Orozco’s potential as he watched him mature at the gym and as he worked with him individually.

“We knew that John had the ability to be if not the best American gymnast, at least in the top two,” Hebert said.

The two men’s working relationship came to an end when Orozco tore his Achilles in Aug. 2010. He then moved to an Olympic Training Center in Dec. 2010 where he went through rehab for four months.

“It was a really sad, sad day, a very terrible way for us to end our career together because we already had plans of him moving on to the Olympic Training Center even before his injury,” Hebert said.

But the plan came to fruition anyway when the 19-year-old officially secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic team at the Olympic Trials in San Jose, Ca.

Hebert watched Orozco’s performances while he was at a friend’s birthday party. Orozco started to suffer cramps in his arms during the final event, the parallel bars, and Hebert watched intently with the eyes of a coach.

Even as the other partygoers looked at him like he were crazy.

“I was yelling at the TV. I was like, ‘No! No!’ because he started to fall. Everyone else that was at the party, they were looking at me like, ‘What? It looked like he did a great job,’” Hebert said.

Hebert was relieved but not surprised when the announcement was official.

“It’s not like I was hoping that it would happen. I knew it would happen,” Hebert said. “It was just like, ‘Okay, it’s finally done.’ He reached his dream. I was thinking to myself, ‘Now, what’s part two of the dream?’”

Hebert said with Orozco’s talent, part two is for the young man to win a medal in London. And his former coach expects Orozco to shine at the Olympics.

“He’s used to performing at his best under pressure,” Hebert said. “The highest level meets, he always performs his best.”

Matt Maucione coaches a girls team at World Cup and was Orozco’s teammate at the gym. The 25-year-old cited Orozco’s work ethic as the reason for his amazing success.

“While other gymnasts would be kind of slacking off or fooling around in the gym, John was always really, really focused and he always had his goal in his sights,” Maucione said. “It was very, very easy for other kids to do it for the fun aspect of it but John was always really, really serious.”

Maucione noted how gratifying it is to have his fellow gymnast achieve such a high level of success and said Orozco’s accomplishments can only bolster World Cup Gymnastics, where numerous pictures of and articles about Orozco decorate the walls.

“You might not hear World Cup be mentioned by the sportscasters in the actual events, but anybody that knows of John, they know about World Cup,” Maucione said. “And it’s just really, really great to be a part of that.”

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