Cami Drouin-Allaire stepped on the mat for the first time as a George Washington University gymnast at an age when she should have been a high school senior. The competition season her freshman year began in January 2015. It didn’t take long for the 5-foot-2 Shoreham-Wading River High School graduate to stand out.
“People are like, ‘Wow, who is this girl that has three names?’ ” said George Washington coach Margie Foster-Cunningham.
By the end of the season, Drouin-Allaire had reached heights unmatched by any gymnast in the university’s history. She earned second-team All-America honors in the vault from the National Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches Association — a first in program history. A versatile gymnast who competes in all four events — vault, bars, beam and floor exercise — Drouin-Allaire became the first George Washington gymnast since 1994 to become an NCAA Championship individual qualifier, finishing in a tie for 10th in the all-around with a score of 39.20.
Her sophomore year, which ended earlier this month, saw her earn East Atlantic Gymnastics Gymnast of the Year honors — another first in program history. She was the top-ranked gymnast in the conference for the all-around and vault.
“Cami is not intimidated by anything,” Foster-Cunningham said. “She’s a very confident and hard-working athlete.”
Drouin-Allaire’s journey to George Washington began more than a decade earlier. Born in a suburb of Montreal, Drouin-Allaire started gymnastics at around age 4 or 5 after moving to America. After starting at a small gym, she found a home at Gold Medal Gymnastics in Rocky Point, where she competed through high school. Shoreham-Wading River had ended its gymnastics program several years earlier, so she competed exclusively through her club team.
“When I started gymnastics I just gradually got better and better,” Drouin-Allaire, 19, said. “When I was at Gold Medal I learned some of the skills that I still compete now.”
By her freshman season in high school, she reached Level 10 — the highest level in the junior Olympic program before the Elite level, which is essentially when an athlete turns pro to pursue the Olympics.
In 2012 she was a Level 10 New York State champion and earned a bronze medal on vault at the Junior Olympic Nationals in Hampton, Va.
Photo Caption: Cami Drouin-Allaire competes in all four gymnastics events, including the balance beam. (Credit: GW Athletics Communications)
Foster-Cunningham saw Drouin-Allaire compete for the first time at the beginning of her junior year. She quickly learned Drouin-Allaire was in a unique situation. Her father was being transferred for work to San Francisco. Drouin-Allaire wanted to stay on Long Island.
So her mom offered a deal. If she could finish high school a year early, she would stay behind with her for one year.
“We had a scholarship open up and it worked out beautifully,” Foster-Cunningham said. “We were kind of at the right place at the right time.”
A superb student as well as athlete, Drouin-Allaire graduated from Shoreham at the end of her junior year in 2014. She’s now majoring in biology on a pre-med track at George Washington with an eye toward medical school.
It makes for a heavy workload for the teen, who begins her days with a 6 a.m. wake-up. She practices from 7 to 11 a.m., followed by three classes. More schoolwork follows after that.
“My days are pretty busy but I still have time at the end of the day to kind of relax and focus on my schoolwork,” she said. “Gymnastics teaches you organization and time management for sure.”
What has made Drouin-Allaire stand out to her coach is her intense ability to focus.
“As a young athlete, she had a very high ability, whenever I watched her in a competition, it didn’t matter what was going on around her, she was very focused,” Foster-Cunningham said. “Very capable of staying calm under any circumstance and I really loved that about her.”
“I think I do well under pressure,” Drouin-Allaire added.
At the final meet of the season on April 2, Drouin-Allaire tied for third on the vault with a 9.90 at the NCAA Athens Regional. She helped lead the team to its best team score (194.675) in 12 appearances at the NCAA Regionals.
Competing in a sport as grueling on the body as any — Drouin-Allaire has dealt with a torn meniscus, sprains, broken ankles, yet says her injuries have “never been anything major” — Drouin-Allaire realizes the end is near. The second half of her collegiate career will mark the end of her gymnastics career by age 21.
“I don’t know how my body would be able to keep going after college,” she said.
Until then, the sky’s the limit on what Drouin-Allaire can accomplish.