Inside Gymnastics


LR Productions announces the 2nd annual Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge to be held in San Juan Puerto Rico December 16-18, 2022.

The inaugural Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge, hosted by LR Productions, took place at the Knoxville Convention Center in Knoxville, TN December 17-19, 2021. Originally planned for San Juan, Puerto Rico, changed because of Covid, over 500 USAG and NGA athletes from levels 1-10 and Xcel levels competed to claim the title of All-Around Champion. All participants qualified at one of 7 competitions held across the United States.

The Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge also served as a fundraiser and raised thousands of dollars for Puerto Rico. A second-generation American, Hernandez is the first American-born Latina to make the U.S. gymnastics team since 1984. Her grandparents, as well as her mother and father grew up on the island, instilling its culture in Hernandez and her siblings.

At the Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge all competing athletes had the chance to meet Laurie, ask her questions, get tips at her ADVICE table, and spend time with her after each session as Laurie lent her inspirational words.

Bids are now being accepted to be a host qualifier for the 2022 Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge as it plans to return to San Juan Puerto Rico December 16-19, 2022. For more information visit


The 2022 LHCC will feature women's artistic gymnasts from the United States, Puerto Rico and other countries, The Challenge will include Levels 1-10, Xcel and NGA gymnasts. Through a series of qualification meets in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the top 5 all-around winners, as well as a "Judge's Choice" gymnast at each level, will qualify for The Challenge. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Gymnastics Federation. All gymnasts in the Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge will be outfitted in a Laurie designed GK Elite leotard. Gymnastics equipment will be sponsored by Spieth America.

More information regarding the event can be found at

A second-generation American, Hernandez is the first American-born Latina to make the U.S. gymnastics team since 1984. Her grandparents, as well as her mother and father grew up on the island, instilling its culture in Hernandez and her siblings.

Outside the gym Hernandez enjoys spending time with her family and golden doodle named Honey. She travels the country speaking to the next generation about following their dreams. She is also a fierce advocate for mental health awareness.

"I'm extremely excited to be coming to Puerto Rico in year 2 for the Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge. My parents instilled our family with a deep appreciation of our Latino heritage, said Hernandez. I am tremendously proud to bring a gymnastics competition to Puerto Rico that encourages girls everywhere to promote positivity in the sport, community purpose and healthy wellbeing."

Hernandez was a member of the 2016 Olympic team, popularly known as the "Final Five." Known for her floor routines featuring outgoing facial expressions, as well as unparalleled grace and artistry, Hernandez has been dubbed the "human emoji." At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she took home the gold medal in the team event and the silver medal for her balance beam routine. Following the Olympics, Hernandez went on to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars with her partner Val Chmerkovskiy. She also wrote her first book titled I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, which was featured on the New York Times Best Sellers list. In 2018, she released an illustrated children's book, "She's Got This" with Harper Collins Childrens that also made the New York Times Best Sellers list.

About LR Productions: LR Productions is a collaboration between Jim Lucas and Melissa Ruffino. Jim Lucas is the founder of Lucas Sports Inc (LSI), a privately held company that organizes fundraising events featuring star athletes for youth sports organizations. Founded in 2010, LSI has organized over 300 events that have raised over $10 million for hundreds of charitable causes. LSI gymnastics events have featured Laurie Hernandez, Maggie Nichols, Katelyn Ohashi, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Madison Kocian, McKenna Kelley, Kyla Ross, Alicia Boren and Jordyn Wieber. LSI also works with cheer, figure skating, soccer, climbing, swimming and dance. For more information on LSI visit

Melissa Ruffino has over 35 years of gymnastics experience as a gymnast, coach, gym owner, judge and meet director. She has co-owned and operated Legacy Elite Gymnastics & Fun 2B Fit Training Center in Concord, NC since 2007. She has served as meet director for more than 10 state qualifiers and her gym will host the 2021 NC State Championships. She is a NAWGJ member and Level 10 NCAA Judge, and for the past 10 years has served as Contract Director for the NC NAWGJ Board of Directors. Melissa holds a current national coaches' ranking and was the NC Xcel Coach of the year in 2014, 2015 and 2016.