Haley Dairy makes 49ers cheer squad

Max Braly Sports Contributor

Haley Dairy knew she wanted to become a cheerleader in the professional ranks since she was a little girl. Being selected as one of the 40 dancers to lead 49ers fans in cheers at Levi’s Stadium as a part of the San Francisco Gold Rush was all apart of the plan.

Dairy, who is taking classes long distance and will graduate in June with a speech communication degree, was born in Eugene, Ore.

Dairy began developing her skills by joining gymnastics at age nine. By the time she was 10-years-old, she was already competing nationally with an all-star cheerleading squad.

When it came time to choose a high school, dancing was of utmost importance. Dairy chose to go to Springfield High School because of their storied program.

Her choice to become apart of the Millers cheer team at Springfield High was the correct one. In Dairy’s four years, the team won four state titles and a national championship.

Oregon State’s dance team performed at Dairy’s senior year state competition. The routine caught her attention.

“Oh my gosh, they look so good. I really want to tryout for that team,” Dairy said.

The choice wasn’t quite that simple. Dairy’s mother and grandmother both had been head coaches of the University of Oregon cheerleading squad for 15 years.

Ultimately, the choice to become a Beaver was based on Oregon State head coach Amber Bezates’ coaching style.

“I really respected the way Amber ran her program. It was a lot more relatable to what I had become accustom to in high school,” said Dairy.

Practicing mostly cheerleading in her high school career, Dairy was challenged to improve her dancing skills in college.

“She has definitely been on a journey with being a cheerleader in high school and transitioning to a dancer in college. She was very motivated to learn new skills and work on those skills. She always pushed herself really hard and wanted to have a high standard for our team and herself individually,” Bezates said.

She earned varsity letters as a part of the Oregon State dance team for each of her four years.. Dairy was respected throughout the team and was selected as a team captain.

Dairy enjoyed being apart of her team in Corvallis.

“I feel like Oregon State’s dance team isn’t like other dance teams,” Dairy said. “We don’t really have cliques. We don’t have drama. We don’t have people discouraging each other. We are all very supportive of each other. And that’s something that’s very rare, especially to find in college.”

Dairy always wanted to be apart of Gold Rush because her dad used to play football for the 49ers. And back in December of 2014 she posted a photo of Gold Rush dancers to her Instagram account with the caption, ‘If people don’t laugh at your dreams, they’re not big enough’.

Nobody is laughing now.

Especially not Jasmine Shannon, former Oregon State dancer and current dancer for the Portland Trail Blazers, who was one of Haley’s biggest influences in preparation and trying out for the Gold Rush.

Shannon was able to see first hand and help with Dairy’s hard work and preparation. Each morning leading up to the Gold Rush tryout, the two would train together.

Because of her prior experience trying out for and earning a spot on a professional squad, Shannon was able to be extremely effective in giving advice. The combination of Dairy’s cheerleading background and Shannon’s studio dance background made for a great pairing of skills. This was just one reason her Gold Rush tryout was successful.

Another reason is Dairy’s personality itself.

“She’s just a blessing, because her motivation, her drive to get what she wants, to set goals and exceed in those goals is night and day,” said Shannon. “It’s very touching to watch, because I’ve been training her since she first came to Oregon State.”

Cheerleading as a job isn’t just during the actual season. The offseason work is just as important.

“During the offseason, a lot of what we do is mental and a lot of the mental process is hard work that has to be put in if you want to do the best in what we do,” Shannon said. “That has to be there. And I’m just really proud of her.”

Dairy and Shannon are two of the three Oregon State dance team members dancing at the professional level, they are joined by Mia Butler who dances for the Sea Gals, the Seattle Seahawks affiliated cheer squad.

Having three successful dancers isn’t a coincidence. The program coach Bezates built at Oregon State does well to prepare dancers for the next level. Teams from across the leagues have called Bezates inquiring about whether or not her squad members are planning on trying out.

Coach Bezates doesn’t specifically prepare individuals for trying out, but the values she instills in her team make them ready for the transition into the next level.

Hard work, ambition and fate have been the main driving forces for Dairy’s success.

Dairy recalls the advice that her coach gave her during her freshmen year, “She told me, you don’t worry about how you are going to do it, you just do it. And if it is meant to be, it will fall into place.”

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