Cheerleader Haley Lattman isn’t on the sidelines of her sport. She and her Thompson Rivers University teammates showed they could elevate as high as the international podium, this past week, in Florida.
The 19-year-old Quesnel student was part of the TRU WolfPack squad that went to the International Cheer Union’s University World Cup Cheerleading Championships in Orlando. They came home with a fourth-place finish in the University Premier All-Girl category, and the bronze medal in the All-Girl Gameday Routine category. They even “hit zero” once, which means not a single deduction from the judges on a particular routine.
It was exhilarating to take on teams from the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Korea, Ireland and other locations and even more affirming for Lattman who never forgot that she was a rookie in the whole sport, not just this squad.
“I did 12 years of competitive gymnastics, so I had a little bit of experience in some aspects of the sport,” she explained. “It was pretty difficult (to transition) because gymnastics is based on music, or on the specific skills themselves. You don’t move up a skill level until you master the level you’re at. With cheerleading, you have to keep pace with the rest of your team, so you do it to counts, kind of like dance, and that was a new experience for me and I’m still getting used to it. I’m in the Gameday Routine which is more of an old-fashioned style, like the cheerleaders on the sidelines at a football game or basketball game, but up a notch. Probably the most difficult part for me was learning to work together as a team while doing these stunts and dances, because gymnastics, it’s just you out there. These group skills were quite strenuous for me, and took a lot of effort to pick it up.”
Lattman bowed out of gymnastics about six years ago, so this was a refreshing return to competitive athletics. She had never considered it, before, but saw a demonstration at TRU and took a chance on applying.
After she was accepted, there became a constant struggle to balance cheer training, scholastics, and personal life, all while being away from home when still a teenager. Her parents got to watch her perform earlier in the school year, but laments that her brother Seth - she lights up when speaking of him - hasn’t been able to, yet.
Lattman is enrolled in the Social Services Worker Certificate Program, with an eye on laddering into the Bachelor of Social Work program.
“I’ve just always had a passion for helping people less fortunate than myself,” she said.
This was her first year of post-secondary after taking a year off after high school to work. She is a graduate of Correlieu Secondary School and before that Red Bluff Elementary School.
Other than one weekend trip to Seattle, this was also Lattman’s first trip to the United States, and she made the most of it by getting in a visit to Walt Disney World in the team’s spare time.
For the 28 athletes on the TRU WolfPack cheer team, this was the first time competing at this level. COVID-19 caused the shutdown of most high-caliber events. It was the first holding of this competition since the pandemic restrictions. That’s something to cheer about.