Grace Hegh is taking another big step forward in the cheerleading world.
The Whangarei Girls' High School student has made two New Zealand teams for the International Cheerleading Union World Championships in Florida in April 2018.
Hegh, 15, was picked for the Team NZ Coed Elite and Team NZ All Girl Elite squads.
Mother Andrea said the selections are a testament to her daughter's work ethic and desire to be successful.
"Obviously as a family we are incredibly proud of Grace and how hard she works in all areas of her life and how humble and grounded she has remained throughout it all," she said.
"Sometimes its easy for everyone to forget that Grace is so young.
"To many it looks like Grace is blessed or lucky to have the opportunities that she has.
"But for those of us who really know Grace we know that she deserves the things she is achieving and that she works for everything she has."
It continues to be a big year for Grace as her cheerleading gym Blackout Cheer NZ continues to thrive under her leadership, performing strongly at competitions in Auckland.
Grace said cheerleading is a tough sport and she wouldn't be where she is without a lot of help.
"Cheerleading isn't like other sports where you have subs to go on for someone if they aren't there.
"In competitive cheerleading every person in the team is utilised and is an important part of the overall performance. If someone is away it affects the whole team.
"I am also so incredibly thankful for Toni Saunders who coaches Black Widows for me every Tuesday and Thursday nights so that I can travel to Auckland to train with my Auckland based team."
Grace will now add a fundraising effort to her already busy schedule, needing to raise $5000 to get to Florida.
She had saved a significant amount for it but instead put it towards opening Blackout Cheer NZ.
There are no regrets on Grace's part in her decision to open the gym, Andrea said.
"Grace knew when she started it that it would take a good few years to grow and be able to support paying her a wage but she really wanted to make sure that Whangarei kids didn't lose the ability to participate in a sport she loves," she said.
"Now that she is coming to the end of her first year of owning and coaching at Blackout she says she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Grace totally loves coaching and she loves the athletes she works with, especially seeing them achieve skills and grow as teammates and ultimately as part of the Blackout family she always wanted."