“As soon as the music starts, I forget about my nerves and something comes over me. I have so much fun, especially when I know we have hit a zero-deduction routine,” Hadley Morgan said about the feeling she gets when she takes the mat with her team.
At 12 years old, Morgan has been a competitive all-star cheerleader for eight years.
Growing up in Texas, Morgan first became interested in cheer after watching her older sister perform.
“My sister, Ellie, was on a competitive team and they had a tiny team that practised at the same time and they asked my parents if I could be on it,” Morgan said.
“My first team was Cadets. That team started it all for me and my drive and passion for the sport grew quickly. I always wanted to be in the gym and always wanted to get better,” she added.
Throughout her eight years of cheering competitively, Morgan has cheered for the Woodlands Elite cheer program and the Prodigy Allstars cheer program.
“Growing up in the gym definitely had a big impact on relationships with my teammates. I have grown up with them and we have grown together. It is a bond you can’t explain,” Morgan said about her teammates.
“The friendships I have made, I feel will last a lifetime. They are like family to me. I have friends of all ages. I am blessed to have so many amazing teammates who truly are friends and family,” she added.
Currently, Morgan is a junior level-six cheerleader on the Woodlands Elite Colonels. Due to her height of 4’9”, Morgan has been a flyer throughout her time in cheer.
Along with Colonels, Morgan is also a cheerleader on her school team.
“I really had no idea what to expect because it is a lot different than competitive. It is so much fun though and I have made so many great friends. I love cheering for my school and I love my coach,” Morgan said.
Throughout the year, Morgan competes in multiple competitions with her all-star team. The two biggest are Summit and the National Cheerleader’s Association (NCA) competition.
“NCA is one of our biggest competitions of the season. We train hard and usually have a lot of extra practices before NCA. There are so many people from all over the world. It’s pretty cool to see so many gyms, teams and people from different countries,” Morgan described.
“It’s massive, congested, and so much fun. It is really exciting, but also very nerve-wracking because you have a lot on the line. There is so much pressure to not let your team down. It is what we train for the entire season and is disappointing if you don’t win. Winning my first NCA was a dream come true. The work is worth that feeling you get when you hear you have won,” she added.
As an athlete, Morgan trains for the competitions, and due to her being a little superstitious, she always gets Starbucks before she competes.
“My mom usually helps me tease my hair and then I do my makeup. I like to listen to hype songs on the way to the competition to take the stress off of me and get me in the zone. When we get to the competition you start on the stunting mat and have about eight minutes to warm up. Then you move to other mats and have about the same amount of time on each,” Morgan explained about her routine in getting ready for a competition day.
“On the last mat you get a full floor and run stunt throughs. We always pray before we go on the mat. And I always pray before the music comes on. After day one, if it goes really well, I like to repeat everything I did day one before competing for day two. For example, if my dad tied my shoes day one and I did really well, I need him to tie my shoes day two. If I did a handshake with a friend day one and our performance went well, I need to do that exact handshake day two,” she added.
Due to getting to travel to many States for competitions, Morgan has been to Florida and Louisiana (LA) to name a few. So far, her favourite city to have travelled to is New Orleans, LA.
“Last year I had so much fun with my team Moonlight. I can’t wait to go again with Colonels this year. There was so much to do and see in the city and the competition was so much fun. We won level six highpoint last year and had awards at two am.”
So far, Morgan’s most memorable moment was when Colonels won Summit in 2019.
“On Day two we had a stunt fall and thought it was over. We were all disappointed in ourselves until we realized we had won. Winning was so shocking but one of the best moments of my life,” Morgan recalled.
“We worked so hard….It is so rewarding to have a big goal that you work so hard for with your team and accomplish it,” she added.
In cheerleading, and in life, there is something called a mental block. In cheerleading, a mental block is when an athlete has a skill but something happens one day and they can’t throw the skill.
“I have had my double since I was nine years old but it’s a skill I still struggle with. Sometimes my body doesn’t want to twist twice and it’s so frustrating when I know I can do it and it’s all in my head,” Morgan said.
“I am thankful it doesn’t happen often but hate when it does. Getting hurt and having to push through for your team is also a challenge. I once competed at NCA with a broken ankle and the flu,” she added.
Due to the adversities Morgan has faced with injuries and mental blocks, she has also grown as an athlete by learning a lot about herself.
“I advanced at a young age so was usually the youngest on a team. I am also very outgoing and love to talk to people. I’ve learned a lot about myself also. As competitive as I am, you can’t always compare yourself to others,” Morgan said.
“I don’t like to lose, but I’ve learned that you can’t always come out on top and no one is perfect. I have also learned that when things get tough, I can always push through,” she added.
Every cheerleader’s dream is being able to compete at Worlds, as Worlds is the highest competition a cheerleader can compete in. As Morgan will be eligible to compete on a senior level-six team next year, she will be Worlds eligible.
“I always think about taking a year off, but then I think of my dream of winning Worlds. I think of all the time I have put into the sport over the years and don’t want to give up now. I am scared that taking a year off would affect my cheer career. I don’t know what the future holds but next year will be my first year to be Worlds eligible. I am excited to see what comes my way.”