My name is Hayden Ashley Ward. I am a 15 year old cheerleader from Mobile, Alabama. I have been an all-star cheerleader since I was 4 years old and this is my eleventh season. I love to cheer and love everything about our sport! Cheerleading is not just something that I do, it embodies who I am. Cheerleading has taught me to be focused and determined in every aspect of my life. It has taught me how to set goals and accomplish them. It has taught me how to be organized, how to manage my time, how to win and lose gracefully, how to accept disappointments, how to be a true teammate, how to support others, and how to be the best version of myself. I have been a member of Team iC for Inside Cheerleading Magazine for three years, where I contribute as a writer and represent my sport. I have also been involved with athletic modeling for the past five years, and this year I was thrilled and honored to be named as an Epic Athlete!
Beyond all-star cheer, I also cheer for my school. I have been a school cheerleader since second grade. I have played numerous sports over the years, such as soccer and basketball, as well as competing in taekwondo and pole vaulting. I always stay busy with sports, my grades, and volunteer organizations. I am a straight A student and member of the Junior National Honor Society. I like to volunteer to help others when I can and I stand up to bullying. I try to be a mentor for younger girls just the way my mentors have been for me.
One thing that makes me unique is that in addition to cheer, I love Cross-fit. I actually compete at Cross-fit competitions with my dad as my partner. We train together and win together. It’s a really fun sport just like cheer and it actually makes me a better cheerleader! I love adding weights into my daily workouts to change things up from my usual cheer conditioning. Cross-fit is a natural fit for cheerleaders since it incorporates gymnastic movements into workouts.
I have really worked hard and been focused driven to get where I am. Like most cheerleaders, I have made sacrifices to keep my dreams in focus. Ever since I started cheering, I could not wait to be on a world’s level 5 team. I cheered on tiny level 1 for 2 years, mini level 2 for 2 years, youth 3 for a year, junior 4 for a year, and restricted 5 for 2 years before I was finally old enough for a world’s level 5 team. I was often one of the youngest on my team. Yet, I still knew that I could make an impact and be a leader every day. With a whole bunch of hard work, my dream of competing at my first worlds finally came true! This season is actually my third year competing on a world’s level 5 team.
To me being an Epic Athlete means being focused and driven. It is about being epic in all that I do, including all the positive qualities that I have learned and developed from all-star cheer. It’s not just about being the best tumbler or flyer, but about being the best overall cheerleader and person that I can be each and every day. Being an Epic Athlete means that younger girls look up to me as an example. The actual term epic means being legendary. That’s pretty spectacular!
I plan to continue my school and all-star cheer career throughout high school. I would love to cheer in college at the University of Alabama and also continue my involvement in cheer even after. There are so many careers that are connected with sports. For now, I want to be an Orthopedic Surgeon and help injured athletes when I grow up. Yet, I still have some time before I fully decide.
If I could tell the younger athlete me something, it would be to not stress so much. I think that I spent time worrying that I was not from a big name gym. Yet, what I have found is that I have been able to experience some amazing opportunities through the world of cheer even staying at my home gym. I have made friends from all around the world through our incredible sport.