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Henderson Flips Into Georgetown

Sophie Henderson was born into Cirque du Soleil and had Olympic gymnastic aspirations before injuries took over. Thanks to her older sister, tennis and non-profit work fell into her life – as well as a scholarship to Georgetown.

Henderson is heading to Georgetown
© Las Vegas Review-Journal

In 2008, Sophie Henderson, like any child athlete with professional aspirations, had her eyes glued to the television during the Beijing Olympics. However, it was gymnastics that ruled her day-to-day life and Shawn Johnson was her idol. “She was short like me, so I felt like I could relate,” Henderson said. What connected Henderson to Johnson was the daily work ethic and poise the Olympian brought to her routines and a goal of hers was to represent her country. “The Olympics were on my mind at the time, but I always wanted to be a performer – specifically an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil.”

Cirque du Soleil has remained a staple in the Henderson family for five generations and her maternal Grandfather is the oldest member still performing at 85. “My grandfather's fearlessness, creativity, and self-educated intellect have made him a modern day Renaissance man. I’m so grateful for the open, loving, and free environment that he created through our family. His free spirit, openness, creativity, and passion for performing has inspired me to be the best I can,” Henderson beams. The opportunity to grow up and experience other walks of life is also something Henderson is forever grateful for. “By traveling and meeting so many unique people, my eyes have been opened to the different cultures around the world. The diverse ethnicities, lifestyles, and talents of people in Cirque du Soleil have helped me to become a worldly person.”

An unfortunate stress fracture in her back at 9 not only led Henderson to a premature retirement from gymnastics, but she also had to wear an “embarrassing” 15-inch long cast from her neck to tailbone. Sally Dewhurst, Henderson’s mother, suffered the same injury as a young gymnast but was impressed with the positive outlook her daughter took on. “When Sophie was diagnosed with the same injury there was a lot of guilt with putting her in the same sport as I was in that is so brutal on the body. Sophie was always positive and upbeat (given the circumstances),” Dewhurst said. Henderson credits her family for helping her always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. “When I broke my back, I felt completely crushed but what stayed intact was my family's belief that anything is possible with hard work and dedication, so I used this mentality when I switched from gymnastics to tennis at 11 years old.”

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Page updated on Monday, October 23, 2017
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