The Hawaii High School Athletics Association announced its Hall of Honor for the class of 2021 on Monday and among the honorees was the first ever competitive cheerleader inducted into the elite club.
Recent Sacred Hearts graduate Cayla Cabanban earned the honor after leading the Golden Girls to three straight state championships, including four consecutive ILH league titles all while earning All-American honors as a multiple time national champion.
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“It means a lot. Although there are a lot of good athletes around the island, I’m so blessed to be joining my brother as well and represent the cheerleaders of Hawaii and being the first ever cheerleader to receive this award,” Cabanban told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
As mentioned, Cayla is not the first honoree in her family as she joins her brother, four time state wresting champion for Saint Louis Corey Cabanban who is currently at Iowa State University.
“I’m glad to join him and he is still my very hot role model and he set a high bar for me and my siblings. It was a goal for me to reach my four time state champs although I didn’t get to this year from some circumstances but I got to achieve my four time ILH and it just proves you can do anything and everything is possible even through some challenges,” said Cabanban.
Despite the HHSAA not holding any sanctioned competition for the 2020-2021 academic year, Cayla was among 12 seniors still stood out among the rest and continued an annual tradition that honors the state’s best graduating student-athletics for the impact they made in their respective sports, as well as their communities. The accomplishment is even more astonishing when you learn that Cabanban didn’t even enter high school with the intentions to compete as a cheerleader.
“I would be so surprised. I didn’t even know I was going to be a cheerleader. Once I came to Sacred Hearts people were telling me you should do cheer because they knew I was a gymnast, and I was like um, I don’t know? But cheerleading really had played a big role and definitely changed my life for the better.”
The end of high school doesn’t mean the end of cheerleading for Cabanban, as she will continue the cheer at the University of Hawaii starting in the fall.
“It feels good. I get to stay home, meet new people from the mainland. I worked with some UH cheerleaders my sophomore year so I kind of got to know the insides of Hawaii cheer and learn the technique. It’s going to be a good honor and opportunity for me to stay home and for my family to watch me.”
2021 HHSAA HALL OF HONOR
Teani Arakawa, King Kekaulike
Kanani Araki, Kamehameha-Hawaii
Alana Barthel, Le Jardin
Cayla Cabanban, Sacred Hearts
Alakai Gonsalves, Kapaa
Shayna Kamaka, Baldwin
Caleb Lomavita, Saint Louis
Koby Moananu, Kaimuki
Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, Campbell
Branden Pagurayan, Kapolei
Shaye Story, Kamehameha
Lily Wahinekapu, ‘iolani
Each student-athlete receives a $2,000 Enterprise Rent-A-Car college scholarship. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a banquet will not be held in person for the second straight year.