SHA’s 4-time All-American Cayla Cabanban a stickler for hard work

Senior co-captain and four-time UCA All-American Cayla Cabanban helps set the bar of excellence for the Sacred Hearts competitive cheer squad. Photo courtesy of Jessica Baliares.

When it comes to motivation, the Sacred Hearts Lancers don’t have to look far.

Cayla Cabanban brings an alpha mentality to the floor and it doesn’t matter that the three-time state champion and four-time All-American is due for a rest break.

The senior earned UCA All-American honors last week, joined by three varsity teammates from Sacred Hearts.

“I tried every year since freshman year and made it every year, but I never went to the camp on the mainland,” Cabanban said. “Freshman to junior year, we did the (UCA) camp at ‘Iolani.”

It’s all part of her quest to spark the Lancers to a four-peat at the competitive cheer state championships in early 2021.

“It was, I had to get myself back in shape from the quarantine. Get back on the grass and remind myself mentally and physically,” she said of preparation for the videotaped routine that was sent to UCA. “It took a couple of tries, but I ended up with a good routine.”

There’s also the next-level dream. Cabanban has a 3.5 grade-point average and is aiming to attend Alabama next year. She is also looking at Hawaii and UCF. SHA coach Cadey Vakauta has Cabanban as a co-captain for a reason.

“Cayla moved up to varsity her freshman year from the intermediate team. The expectation of skill and maturity is very different, but it’s no surprise she rose to the occasion. She’s a competitor and wants to make her family proud in everything she does. She’s a different person on the mat. She has this fire and is very aggressive. She is truly a role model and inspires our community. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Cabanban prefers the underdog role.

“If you want to succeed in life and school, you’ve got to put in the work. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” she said. “I just go by that quote every day.”

Senior co-captain Cayla Cabanban has been big part of the three-peat state championship competitive cheer squad at Sacred Hearts Academy. Photo courtesy of Jessica Baliares.

Through the COVID-19 lockdowns since March, Cabanban has pushed herself through personal training and her team’s Zoom workouts. The break between lockdowns provided a chance to work as a group.

“I still do workouts every day for about two, three hours. When the pandemic first started, I was just doing cardio work, running and just working out at home with my brothers,” she said. “I started to lift and working with some of my teammates so we could start getting back in shape. We would throw some stunts and do some tumbling.”

As the three-time defending champion in the Medium Division, Sacred Hearts is, in effect, a dynasty in competitive cheer.

“The team is very different after winning three titles. When teams start to win and get recognition, it starts to bring attention from fans and other people who don’t watch cheerleading. You are held up to a different standard. Trying to defend a title is just as hard as trying to win one. Just because you win something doesn’t mean you can just relax,” Cabanban said. “Champions need to work just as hard to stay at the top.”

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

Cabanban: “I don’t have a favorite show or movie.”

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Steak and shrimp.

2. Hot Cheetos.

3. McDonald’s cold brew frozen.

Top 3 music artists

1. Chris Brown.

2. Rebel Souljahz.

Shout outs

Cabanban: “First, shout out to God for watching over me and keeping me safe. I’d like to thank my family, my brothers for pushing me and correcting me when I’m doing something wrong, like when I’m working out. My coaches for helping me and guiding me to be the person and cheerleader I am today.”


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