Taoseña Haley Ickes and her Texas Tech University cheer team Royal Court won Bronze at The Cheerleading World Championship 2021 international competition in Orlando, Florida, on Friday and Saturday, May 7-8. The Taos High School alumna credits THS cheerleading coach Lisa Abeyta-Valerio for inspiring her to compete.
"My passion for cheer has to do with my foundation, which was Taos High School," said Ickes, 21. "Coach Valerio played a huge role in seeing my potential and helping me grow. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be able to compete on such a high-caliber team."
Made up of 20 women and four men, Ickes's team performed its two-and-a-half minute routine for the judges at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.
"My team -- it's only their seventh season -- so they're a newer team," said Ickes. "It was our first time ever 'globing.' It was a great accomplishment."
The yearly event brings cheer teams from around the world to compete, and is hosted by The United States All Star Federation and the International All Star Federation. The competition is broadcast nationally on the CBS Sports network.
"They had a bunch of restrictions due to COVID-19, but all the teams got to go. Our parents were able to watch," said Ickes.
In March 2021, Ickes's Royal Court cheer team competed in the National Cheerleaders Association competition in Dallas, and secured their spot at The Worlds competition. The performances for the NCA were judged virtually -- Ickes's team recorded its routine from the Ultimate Cheer Lubbock gym in Lubbock, Texas.
Ickes is a junior at Texas Tech University and plans to graduate in December 2022 with a degree in kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body motion.
"Haley has done amazing, and is living the dream that so many young women I work with aspire to lead," said Abeyta-Valerio. "She has worked so hard, and really set her goals, and keeps pushing toward them."