HSE Alum Haleigh DeVoe Has Won National & World Titles Throughout Cheerleading Career
Haleigh DeVoe was in preschool when she first gave gymnastics a try, immediately gravitating to tumbling and floor routines before jumping into cheerleading.
“My mom said, ‘Maybe we should put you in cheerleading,’ and I’ve loved it ever since,” DeVoe says.
Though she briefly quit cheer when she was in kindergarten because she was frustrated that she couldn’t do a back walkover, she soon missed the sport and returned to it as a first-grader.
DeVoe trained most of her preteen and teen years at Indiana Elite Gymnastics in Noblesville, the largest cheer and tumbling gym in Indiana. She chose Indiana Elite because she was looking for a more competitive atmosphere, and they had a great reputation for producing highly competitive athletes.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I would have the potential to win a national title,” says DeVoe, who got her wish when she won UCA Nationals in 2007 when she was in second grade.
“After that, I was hooked and in it for the long haul,” says DeVoe, who won UCA Nationals again in 2013 when she was a freshman in high school. As a sophomore, DeVoe gave high school cheer a try when she cheered for Hamilton Southeastern (HSE).
“The rule used to be that you couldn’t do competitive cheerleading and high school cheerleading at the same time and since I’m competitive, I chose competitive cheer because I wanted to compete year-round,” DeVoe says.
Competition cheer has competitions every few weeks. And that’s precisely how DeVoe improved her skill set as she learned flipping and inversion skills.
Though she adored cheerleading, she had no plans to continue doing it in college. She changed her mind, however, and freshman year at Indiana University she tried out and made the Crimson all-girls team, a squad that incorporates football, basketball and competition.
“It was the best experience of my life,” says DeVoe, noting that she and her Hoosier teammates practiced for 2.5-plus hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, in addition to mandatory weightlifting on Mondays and Wednesdays. Games on Friday and Saturday meant that every day she was working out.
“That’s why some days my legs felt like Jello,” DeVoe says.
Her freshman year at IU was wildly exciting as the university won the national cheerleading title. The following morning, DeVoe tried out for and landed a spot on Team USA, a collection of 32 of the best cheerleaders from around the country.
After making Team USA, the girls don’t see one another again until two weeks before the world competition. At that point, they get together for brutally long practices — two-a-days, sometimes three-a-days.
“I’ve never practiced so much in my life,” DeVoe says.
In 2017, her team won Gold at the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Cheerleading Championships (the cheerleading version of the Olympics). No doubt about it — she was on top of the world and at the top of her game.
Though she was having a blast, was also tired and on the verge of burnout. Plus, she felt she needed to focus on her studies to ensure she kept her grades up. Therefore, DeVoe chose to not try out for the cheer team her sophomore year.
Prior to her junior year, however, her coach and program directors both asked her to go out for the team again. Though she was enjoying having downtime, the year off brought a new perspective as she realized how much she appreciated being a part of something bigger than herself.
“I missed being around like-minded individuals with the same attitude and goals,” she says.
The year off also gave her a renewed appreciation for performing in front of a crowd.
“I realized how lucky I was to be able to wear Indiana across my chest and cheer on game day in Assembly Hall & Memorial Stadium,” she says. “All these little girls would come up to me asking for pictures. I truly grew to love game day cheer.”
DeVoe, who graduated in May with a degree in exercise science, plans to attend graduate school as she’s interested in pursuing a career in pediatric physical therapy.
“I love helping people, and I want a job where I feel like I have a purpose,” DeVoe says. “That’s what cheerleading has been for me — the opportunity to represent my university.”
Ultimately, DeVoe made the USA cheerleading squad three times during her collegiate career and was set to compete for another Gold at the ICU Worlds at the end of April 2020. Sadly, the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but DeVoe is thrilled with how her cheer career evolved through the years.
“Cheer is something I enjoy and am blessed to be good at,” DeVoe says.