Haylie Klose wasn’t a natural in sports.
Until she discovered cheerleading.
Klose is a sophomore at Wilmington University, and she’s cheering for the Division I program. She comes from an athletic family that includes basketball coaches and physical education teachers, but when she started playing sports as a kid, it really wasn’t for her. Until she started cheering.
“Sports are real big for us, my family are big sports people, but they never had a cheerleader,” said Klose, a 2019 graduate of St. Hubert High School. “I was definitely the first one to break into that. We had everything, but not cheerleading.
“I did basketball. I tried soccer. Basketball was the big one for me, I did that until third grade, but once I started cheerleading, I was hooked. Nothing ever caught my attention like that. Even the coaches when I was 8, they said I was a natural because I liked it so much. Some kids start at 5 or 6, I was 8, going on 9. I just jumped in. It was like I was born to do it.”
She started off strong and has gotten better all the time.
Klose, who lives in Northwood, began cheering for Vogt, and later cheered at St. Matt’s before going on to find a lot of success at St. Hubert’s, where she helped the Bambies win a national championship.
Every time she takes the mat, she has fun, but there will be nothing like the day she and her teammates were the best in the country.
“I can honestly say I’ve been there more times and I’ve definitely had some tough times, but in 2017 when we won, it’s my only title right now, up until 2020, that will forever be the best day of my entire life,” Klose said. “It’s a feeling of everything you put in and the passion, you’re getting a reward for it. It’s just a competition everyone strives to be a part of and getting that win is unbelievable. It changes your life.
“Cheering at St. Hubert’s was such a great experience for me. I loved it. Hubert’s was definitely a big part of my life. I would be nowhere without it. All the girls I cheered with and the coaches. It really helped me prepare for cheering in college.”
She put in the preparation to get there, and now she’s putting in the work to stay there.
Last year, Klose was part of the team that finished second in the nation at nationals.
“I was lucky to be a part of the team,” Klose said. “We had 24 people on the team. Only 16 made the mat for nationals, four boys and 12 girls. I was one of two freshmen that made mat. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe when my name got called to be on the team. It was a great experience.
“As much as finishing second hurt, it does motivate us. I really hoped we could get back there this year.”
That won’t happen.
Klose hoped to get back there this year, but like just about everything else, the competition has been canceled because of coronavirus. But Klose isn’t getting ready, she’s staying ready, and when she gets the call to return, she’ll be ready.
And that’s one of the reasons cheerleading is so difficult. All sports are difficult. It’s especially challenging to compete at the Division I level. But unlike other sports, cheerleading doesn’t really have an offseason. Just as it was in high school, cheering at Wilmington is a year-round commitment, so Klose isn’t just waiting, she’s working.
“It’s hard because I’m going to school from home, so I’m not able to practice, Delaware is about an hour from here, not too bad, but I can’t go for practice every day,” Klose said. “So I’m doing what I can to stay in shape. It’s tough with coronavirus, everything is shut down, but I’m working out and I’m eating right. You have to be ready because you never know when everything will be back to normal, so you have to be ready.
“A lot of people assume it’s too simple to be considered a sport or too easy, but it’s a year-round sport,” Klose said. “It’s a long season with hard practices. Hot summers, cold winters. Several months of practices. You perform in front of thousands of people.
“Cheering for Wilmington is like no other. We don’t have a football team, so we cheer for basketball games, and we do competitions and fundraisers and events. I love it. It’s a lot like St. Hubert’s in that it’s such a great place. I love the school. The place is like my home away from home. I love my team, the coaches, it’s perfect.”
She’s also getting a great education. She’s majoring in organizational management, which she says is a fancy name for event planning. Her goal is to be a wedding planner, and she’s already thinking about the great parties she can throw.
“I’ve always loved the reactions on people’s faces when you throw a party, and I love weddings,” Klose said. “The happiness of the day, the preparation, the organization. You have to prepare.
“You have to be ready for whatever is thrown at you. It’s like a competition, you have to run everything through your head. You get nervous, you get butterflies, but if you’re prepared and organized, you can do it.”
On top of studying and training, Klose is on the lookout for an addition to her family. She’s seeking a dog, which will become a huge part of her support system, her family.
“I’m so fortunate to have the family I have,” said Klose, who is a flyer, which means she gets tossed in the air and caught by teammates. “Not just my mom and grandmom but my whole family, aunts, cousins, everyone.
“We come from that basketball, all sports people, but everyone has an appreciation for cheerleading. They come for nationals. My family is so supportive. Last year we got an Air BNB in Florida for nationals. It’s something else. It’s so obvious how supportive they help me through everything.”