Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor
Rylie Cader is many things: a cheerleader, a Disney fan and a hopeless romantic.
One of those passions — cheerleading — began in early elementary school. She signed up for a day camp during second grade — led by the local high school cheerleaders who would steer Cader toward her future.
Cader is now cheerleading in her second year at Western. This February, the cheerleading team will be attending the annual competition in Anaheim, California, reminding Cader of her second passion — Disneyland.
“I come from a very big Disney family. And the reason why is because my grandfather — he passed away when I was ten — he came from a super poor family. He grew up in poverty. He had to grow up pretty quickly because of that. And he loved Disney because it made him feel like a kid again,” Cader said. “He always made sure we could go, and because of that, my mom loves Disney.”
Cader has been to Disneyland countless times. She knows when ticket prices are high — and in February, they are — and what old rides used to stand and where. She believes that Disney is something that changes and evolves with its fans.
Her grandfather traversed Disneyland in the first year of its opening — something that inevitably changed the trajectory of Cader’s family line.
Cader graduated from high school in 2022. That year, her mother wanted to take her to London to celebrate — but Cader had other plans.
“I actually told her I wanted to go to Disney. She was a little frustrated with me, and there was some drama with why she thought I didn’t want to go to London, and I told her, ‘My grandfather isn’t here to see me graduate,’” Cader said. “‘I want to go to Disney for him.’ As soon as I said that, she totally shut up and understood. So we took Austin on that trip and that’s when he proposed.”
Every year since their engagement, they take time in Disneyland to see the Wishing Well, where they honor that one fateful year where Rylie flipped a coin into the depths and turned to find Austin on one knee.
“You know, in the movies, when there’s like those things where people are shocked or they hear bad news and everything dims down. You can’t really hear. I didn’t even realize that happens in real life — I didn’t hear what he said, I just saw his mouth moving. I stood there in shock for a minute, just staring at him. And then I screamed almost at the top of my lungs.”
When flipping a coin into the Wishing Well, a person typically makes a wish to themselves, and with Disney magic, it’s supposed to come true.
“So I closed my eyes, I had [the coin] on my thumb, I was about to flick it in, and I was thinking, I hope Austin proposes to me soon,” said Cader. Little did she know he was on one knee behind her — pulling a Disney-line Ariel ring from his pocket.
It was something Cader couldn’t have even dreamt of, despite all the time she spent watching Disney romances on the screen.
Although excited, the couple aren’t marrying until after Cader graduates. They’re set to be engaged for a little over four years, and although happy, Cader hasn’t evaded all criticism for being a “Disney adult” and engaged right out of high school.
A previous coach from her high school years had mocked Cader for being engaged so young, confusing Cader. “It was definitely disheartening. I thought she liked me and I was told other stories where she was making fun of me, but I didn’t take it to heart because the coaches I have now are so much better,” Cader said.
Now, Cader is a valued member of Western’s team, with coaches who desire her presence. In the past, however, Cader felt misplaced. “Being a cheerleader, I always struggled to feel like I was on the team,” said Cader about a time when her fellow teammates were being bumped up to varsity without her. “It got in my head and made me feel like I was a bad cheerleader.”
Fast forward to 2023, Cader broke down while talking to her mother, expressing feelings of thankfulness for her new team and the respect she was given for the first time.
“My mom is a big part of cheer for me,” Cader said. “My mom was in a car crash when pregnant with me — somebody had run a red light by our church — and hit her car by the passenger side. Because of the trauma from the crash, she was having contractions, going in and out of labor, but we think that trauma from the contractions is what caused my medical issues.”
Cader was born premature and spent time in the NICU. This led to years of doctor’s office visits and lots of time together with her mother, which would eventually culminate in Cader’s profound respect and love for her mother. “My mom sacrificed so much,” said Cader. “My mom would make sure we had everything we needed while her shirts and clothes have holes in them. Even when she was struggling to make ends meet, she somehow found a way to pay for cheer.”
As for her love for Disney, she had felt anxiety regarding the topic prior to college, but found that it wasn’t that outstanding that she loved Disney so much. “After being in college and meeting all these people, it made me feel better and more confident being a Disney adult,” Cader said, referencing all the other Disney lovers she’s encountered over the years.
Cader hopes to continue her family tradition of attending Disneyland and stopping at the Wishing Well with her soon-to-be husband, joined by their family.
Family to Cader is precious. Her brother filmed her proposal — posting it online but muting her scream of excitement — and her mother was right there alongside her, the reason Cader was a hopeless romantic in the first place — although less hopeless now.
With recent health scares involving her mother, she knows time is precious — she knows to be grateful for the love she’s felt and the way she’s been lifted up by her community, including her cheer team at Western.
Rylie Cader is many things: a fiance, a daughter and excited for the future.
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