CRANFORD - Brandon Haiser, is a freshman at Cranford High School, has been awarded the USA Gymnastics Academic All-American Recognition award, USA Gymnastics announced.

Haiser currently trains at Surgent's Elite School of Gymnastics in Roselle Park, where a Level 10 Gymnast. He began training in the sport at age eight. 

"It's a great honor to receive an award that recognizes both my hard work at school and the 15 hours a week I put into gymnastics," said Haiser. "My immediate goal this year was to qualify for Nationals in Florida. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the NJ States, Regionals and National Championships were all canceled. My goal is to come back next year stronger and more focused. I hope to qualify for the 2021 Nationals."

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According to the release, a total of 666 male gymnasts – the highest since the program’s inception – received the award. Robert Cowan, former USA Gymnastics Men’s Program Director, established the award in 1986 to encourage a high level of academic achievement in young athletes in addition to their athletic achievements. The award honors athletes’ development of values, morals, and social skills. 

“The Junior Olympic athletes in the men’s program are tasked with training and competing, while also managing class work and attendance,” said Lisa Mendel, Men’s Program Manager. “It amazes me how much these student athletes accomplish not only in the classroom and the gym, but also in what they do to give back to their community. These truly are amazing individuals.”

The number of recipients has grown tremendously year-over-year, with more than 150 more recipients in 2020 than 2017, USA Gymnastics said. In order to be eligible for the USA Gymnastics Academic All-American Recognition award, athletes must be a current USA Gymnastics student athlete in grades 9-12 with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and complete an online application. Homeschooled athletes are also eligible.