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MHS Alumna cheers for a nationally ranked team in her freshman year of college

May 15, 2023 10:05AM ● By Verlene Johnson

Cayli Niederhauser performing a stunt at nationals. Courtesy photo

For years, Morgan High Spirit Squad, which consists of both cheer and dance, has been successful at both region and state, all the while turning out cheerleaders that are making college teams.

Cayli Niederhauser cheered for MHS all four years she attended high school. She has been dancing since she was one year old. She started cheerleading in her freshman year of high school. During her senior year, Niederhauser won the state jumpoff, and third place in the national United Dance Association (UDA) solo competition. In addition she made the 3A All-State team and was awarded NCA All-American award four times while in high school.

Towards the end of her senior year, Niederhauser visited colleges all around the country, working out with them and trying out for some of the cheer teams. In the end, she made it on the nationally ranked Weber State University Cheer Team.

Weber State cheer has been a dream for Niederhauser for a long time, however; she never thought she had what it takes to make the team as a freshman straight out of high school. In May of her senior year of high school, she found herself in workshops at WSU and then on to trying out for the team.

“The tryout process is a couple of days long, with filled with work days and several cuts,” stated Niederhauser. “When I showed up to the first work day of tryouts I left with so much doubt in my mind and LOTS of tears running down my face. The last thing I wanted to do was go back the next day.” She said she felt that everyone there had so much more experience and was at a higher skill level than she was.

 “Something that made this process harder than it already was, was when I got a text from a coach from another program (that I had tried out for in October) stating that they needed to have an answer from me if I was going to be joining their team or not, or if they were a second choice to Weber. I was so stuck at this moment, and my thoughts were fighting each other with; My dream is being at Weber, but I’m not good enough to make it this young and I need more experience.”

Her thoughts led her to maybe she should start at this other amazing school to build her skills and in a few years go to Weber. She had noted during tryouts that many recruits trying out were sophomores or juniors coming from other colleges where they had been cheering. “I really had no clue what to do.” She continued, “[During] mid breakdown while trying to text this coach back, in a hallway at Weber State, a member of Weber’s team came and talked to me. He had been helping me get ready for tryouts for the previous couple of weeks and was my biggest support during these days. He said, ‘Nieders, I know you’re capable of making this team. You’re going to be fine.’” She felt anything but fine, but, because of him she showed up the next couple of days, making it through both rounds of cuts, and walked away with that purple shirt, signifying she had made Weber Cheer! 

Once Niederhauser graduated from MHS in 2022, she quickly started practicing with 50 other members of WSU cheer team. At her first collegiate summer camp last summer, she was once again awarded NCA All-American Award once again.

During the 2022/2023 school year, She had the opportunity to cheer for football, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball a as flyer for coed and all-girl stunting, a middle layer, and tippy in pyramids and a tumbler. 

“This experience has been the best roller coaster of my life, that’s for sure,” said Niederhauser. “The beginning of the season was extremely difficult. I felt so behind and was constantly trying to play the game of catch-up. Even though the school is only 20 minutes away from home I truly felt like I was so far from home. I stuck it through but struggled so much, I didn’t think things would get better and I had so many doubts if I belonged on this team or not."

Within a couple of months into the season, she was starting to get the hang of this whole college thing and she settled in a little bit. "I began to realize that I cannot compare myself to these athletes who have been on the team for four years or have been cheering since they were three years old. Once I learned to enjoy every practice and celebrate my small wins I began to grow into an athlete I never thought I’d become. I couldn’t have asked for a better rookie year.”

Niederhauser said the mental strength she had gained is proof to herself that she does deserve to be on this team and she belongs here. She also mentioned that she has gained 50 bonus brothers and sisters for the team. 

WSU Cheer starts to prepare for Nationals in December spending so many hours trying to perfect every part of their routine. “Any chance we get, we go and perform at high schools, events, and even the Jazz game this year. Trusting the process is something that we all have to understand as a team because none of us can do this routine perfectly from the start or every time.”

April 11-13 the WSU cheer team headed to Daytona Beach Florida, on the Bandshell to compete in Nationals. Niderhauser performed with the small coed division. After preliminaries, they returned on the second day to the finals where they won second place. “It was so hard to hear our name in second place when your entire season was spent trying to secure that national title,” she said. “However, that lit a fire inside all of us and we are ready for our comeback.”

Niederhauser said that nationals are the craziest experience ever. “It felt so surreal to be up on a stage in front of thousands of people showing them what Weber State is. Being in Florida with your cheer family and enjoying each other and watching each other live out our dreams is the best thing I could ask for."

Niederhauser may not have been on WSU’s large coed team that won nationals this year, but she did win female Rookie of the year which is voted on by her fellow teammates. 

As she completes her freshman year of college, Niederhauser’s  does not have any concrete plans for the future other than within the next couple of years she plans to try out for the USA team with cheer now an Olympic sport! λ


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