World Champion — Hear Me Roar
August 2023 Issue
Beach Photography by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Grade: Just graduated High School 6/1/23
Favorite Color: Pink!
Some may say Kai Patterson is her own most enthusiastic cheerleader. Well, that's important when you decide to go all in and dedicate yourself to the world of competitive cheerleading. Kai started cheering when she was still toddling around learning her ABCs. With a love for tumbling and a spirited personality, she was destined to feel at home on a cheering squad. But people began to notice her exceptional skills and athleticism and encouraged her to up her game. Now, after a lifetime of hard work, dedication and sacrifice, Kai can be found at the top of the pyramid--a two-time world champion!
Tell us what it means to you to be a two-time world champion:
Being a two-time Cheerleading Worlds’ winner is an amazing feeling. People say winning isn’t everything, that what is more important is how you perform, or the character you bring to the table, and all of this is definitely true. However, holding that Worlds championship trophy and medal is what my team and I trained for all season. It’s what we have dreamed about, and it solidifies that our team is the best in the world! Winning Worlds means our work was not in vain; our sacrifices were worth it. To have our efforts crowned with success was absolutely the ultimate prize, and I’m proud and honored to be able to say I am a two-time Cheerleading Worlds champion!
What do you love most about cheering?
I love the bonds and friendships I’ve formed over the years. I also absolutely love tumbling; there’s just something about being upside down that brings me peace.
What do you find most challenging about the sport?
Unfortunately, I would have to say the drama. It can get pretty heated during practices, but the one thing we always do, is leave the drama off of the mat when it’s go time. Our goal and focus is to always execute and do our best.
We understand you left home to pursue a higher level of cheering. Tell us about the sacrifices you have made over the years in order to fly to the top of the cheering world?
I gave up so much to chase my dreams. I never went to prom sadly, missed most school activities, and didn’t get to finish high school locally with my friends.
My mom and I commuted from Bluffton to Raleigh, NC, every weekend for two years so I could compete with Cheer Extreme’s SSX. It was hard, but she made it happen. That was during my freshman and sophomore years when I was a student at May River High. For my junior year, I transferred to SC Virtual Charter School and lived with a host family in Raleigh. I decided not to return to Raleigh my senior year and wasn’t sure what was next. An amazing opportunity came up in late November with Ice Lady Lightening in Chicago. I was so excited for this new journey and moved to Chicago at the beginning of 2023. I loved everything about my new gym and team, Ice Lady Lightening, the amazing owner Ms. Darlene, my coaches and teammates. I still get goosebumps when I watch our day-two performance that secured the Worlds win for us. We are THAT team. (Watch the performance on YouTube.)
What do you have to do—practices, disciplines, exercise, nutrition—
to be the best you can be?
Our practices are two to three hours three days a week. We condition hard. A balanced diet definitely helps with stamina, but the good thing about this sport is it embraces everyone. Basically, there’s a place for everyone. Not everyone can tumble or is a flyer, but athletes are needed in other spots that are equally as important. The bases often get overlooked, but they play a huge part in the success of the team.
It takes so much to be a world champion—body, mind, spirit. What do you have in you that pushes you to be the best and gives you a competitive edge?
We as a team hype each other up, but to get myself ready before a meet, I listen to music. It frees my mind.
We know cheering and competing can be intense at times.
What do you do in your downtime?
Honestly, I’m happiest when I’m at the gym. I love tumbling so much. I’m not ready to give it up yet, and I will probably super senior one more year while I’m still eligible. I’m not sure where yet, but we have been in communication with a few possibilities.
What brings a smile to your face every time—no fail?
I’m so competitive, so hitting a deduction-free routine always makes me smile big! Cotton candy ice cream also makes me happy.
What do you miss most about home when you have to be away for training?
My parents and my Nana. Being away from family is hard, but I got to see my mom at least twice a month at competitions.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I wish there was more peace. This world be a better place if we were kinder to each other no matter what our differences are.
What is the best advice you've ever received from your mom?
How about your dad? And let's not forget your coach: My mom has always been my biggest supporter. She always told me that if I believed I could do something, then I should never allow anyone to stop me from doing it. She believed in me from the very beginning when some doubted. My dad tells me the same thing. My Nana has been so supportive since I began this sport. I’ve also had some amazing coaches over the years. They all have played a huge part in the athlete I am today. Luis from Island Gymnastics and Jenna the owner of Pack Allstars in Charleston are my favorite tumbling coaches. They both just understand the way I learn.
Do you have a guilty pleasure that you splurge on occasionally?
I LOVE everything thing about makeup, clothes, and shoes. I’m definitely a girly girl!
Who is your hero?
My parents and my Nana Frances. I am who I am because of them.
What are currently roaring about?
I want all the younger cheerleaders to know you are as good as you think you are, so never let fear or naysayers stand in your way! Train hard, believe in yourselves and have the best time of your lives.