Carl Junction native competing in Worlds cheerleading competition

Apr. 25—Alivia Haase — a junior at Carl Junction High School — has spent the last year more than 1,400 miles away from the actual school.

She's been living with a host family in Miami, Florida, while competing for a cheerleading team called the Top Gun Lady Jags.

"This is a team I've always wanted to be on that I've dreamt of since I was a little girl," Haase said. "It's so full circle to see my dreams come true here."

It's a dream come true indeed for a competitive cheerleader to be accepted and invited to tryout for one of the best teams in the world.

The Lady Jags have plenty of success over the course of the last decade with three World championships, two silver medalist finishes and three bronze medalist finishes. The team first won it all in 2014 and most recently in 2022. It took home a silver medal last year.

Head coach Greg Ghazal and assistants Gabi Fuller and Tre Mack have the Jags right back in the World championships in 2024. The event begins Friday and concludes Monday.

Haase and the rest of the team earned a paid bid into the Worlds competition in December by taking first place during an event in Louisville, Kentucky. This will be the sixth and final competition of the year.

A paid bid is where they are given $25,000 to get the team into the event in Orlando, Florida. They can receive that based on performances during the year. There are also at-large bids for the rest of the teams that compete at Worlds, but they must pay their way to Orlando.

Haase and the Lady Jags compete in the senior division, which is for ages 13 to 19. They are in the medium-all girls division. The team is made up of all female athletes whereas there are also co-ed divisions for the Worlds events.

The team the Carl Junction-native competes on is in Level 6. There are levels ranking from 1-7 based on team skill. Level 7 tends to be more for college age or the peak of the senior division for 19-year-olds.

The Jags are set to compete on Saturday and Sunday in Orlando and results from their division will be known on Sunday around 11:30 a.m. central time.


When Haase officially realized she was accepted by Top Gun to compete on the Lady Jags cheer team, that meant it was time to leave home in Carl Junction for the first time in her life.

Being away from her parents didn't turn out to be what she thought it would be at first.

"As a teenager, you think you'll be fine without mom and dad. Like, 'Oh, I can live on my own.' That's so not true," Haase said. "Come to find out, you're like, 'I really need my parents. I miss them.'"

Staying with a host family has allowed her the opportunity to have people there for her, but she misses not being able to have those home-cooked meals from her parents that she got used to, as well as just being able to walk out of her room and see Mom, Betty, and Dad, Sean, face-to-face.

The bonds she's created with her teammates has also helped with being so far from friends and family in Carl Junction.

"The friendships I've made are definitely lifelong friendships," Haase said. "These are girls I will invite to future events. I've only known these girls for a few months but these are lifetime friendships I've made. And that bond is so important in cheer."

A lot of her teammates are also from other states and cities and not many are from Miami. Haase believes that helps them connect over a common theme among the team as they help make themselves feel at home.


Haase will return to CJ following the Worlds event and is planning to stay home for a true senior year. She wants to be able to spend her final year of high school with her friends at home and be around for all the events of her senior year.

She didn't rule out the potential for more competitive cheer in the future. She might go to college and cheer on a college team and might look into competing in the open division of competitive cheer one day that is for ages 18 and older.

No matter what, she wants to do something with cheer in the future, as she's been heavily involved in it for more than 10 years now.

"Hard to imagine cheer not being a part of my life," Haase said. "Even if I don't continue on I plan to kind of coach next year."

Haase would like to coach at Icon Cheer in Springfield where she competed before joining Top Gun.


Haase called it a "process" on trying to become a part of Top Gun. It started last year when she sent in a tryout video to the coaches.

That video included tumbling skills, stunting skills and a routine. She then got invited for a tryout at the gym in Florida in May. The in-person tryout includes individual performances and performances with many other cheerleaders. Haase guessed there were around 300 individuals at her group tryout.

Later that month, she got word she would be on the Lady Jags team. By the first week of June she was living in Miami.


Attending school and keeping up with work wasn't a breeze for the junior, especially someone who enjoyed being in class and feeding off the teacher's lecture.

"I used to thrive off that in-person lecture," Haase said. "It was different at first. But now I wouldn't have it any other way. Because we're in the gym five, six, seven days a week. Being able to just do school when I have time has been helpful. I don't have time to be in school for eight hours but it doesn't take me that long to do my school work, either."

Haase admitted it was easy to get behind in school work with all of her time away from the actual building but she was able to find a rhythm and has since done better about managing her time. Staying disciplined has definitely been an adjustment while going to school remotely.

Her practice schedule this year consisted of a four-hour window on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and about a five-hour window on Saturday and Sunday. Monday's and Wednesday's are days off but that's when Haase goes in to work on extra reps that coaches require from the cheerleaders.


It isn't necessarily common that a daughter has her father as a cheer coach. Haase considers herself fortunate to have been able to bond with her father over a competition they grew to love together.

"He started coaching me when I was really young," Haase said. "It's always been something that I've cherished about our relationship because it really is what made my dad and I's relationship so strong."

Haase admitted to being a little hardheaded over the years as she got older and her dad, Sean, tried to correct her or help her.

"I would say, 'Dad, you don't know what you're talking about.' But he does," she said with a laugh.