Ever since she saw girls cheering at a game when she was six, Jala Montgomery knew that was something she wanted to do. She got into competitive cheerleading at All Star gyms right away and is still at it today.
“I started at Airborne and then cheered for several years at Twist and Shout and now I’m at Soco in Jenks,” said Jala who was the winner of the VYPE Okmulgee-area cheering poll. “I cheered all through middle school and now here in high school at Okemah for three years. All my siblings played basketball or softball, so cheer was just my thing.”
While she can do about anything cheer-related says her coach, Sage Richel, her attitude may be her biggest asset.
“Jala is a great showman. I can put her in front of anyone and she’s always got a great smile on her face even if things aren’t going exactly as planned.”
And so far this year things have gone as planned and maybe even better as the Panthers placed fifth at this season’s OSSAA fall competition and third in Class 3A at the Gameday competition in their first year of competing.
“Going to Gameday was so fun,” said Jala who also runs the 100 and 200-meter sprints on the track team and is on student council. “Since it was our first year, we had no idea what would happen. We were all a little scared but excited and talked and decided that whatever happened, we’re a team and we’ve got this.”
As she was coming up through middle and high school, Jala noticed one cheerleader that was a little older and became a role model for how she cheers.
“Nataiye Wilson was a cheerleader I admired. I saw how she was always there for her teammates and no matter what was happening, she just went out and performed super well and I told myself I wanted to be like her,” said Jala. “I think a good leader is someone who is always there and comforts and instructs the young ones while always having a positive attitude.”
Though she has another year left at Okemah, Jala is already working with Richel and her competitive team coaches to pave the way to the next level.
“I’ve visited OSU and Northeastern State’s cheer teams and I’m working on getting a recruiter to come and see me sometime so I can possibly get a scholarship and cheer at one of those schools. As far as academics, I’m studying health careers at career tech and plan to get my RN degree in college and work in the field of esthetic medicine like my sister.”