COVINGTON — Covington High School has produced several cheerleaders who went on to cheer at the collegiate level, but Kayla Mitchell became the first in program history to be awarded a scholarship while still in high school.
Mitchell, who is the daughter of Amy Mitchell and Mark Mitchell, made it official by signing her letter of intent on Wednesday to continue her cheerleading career at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“This (cheerleading at the collegiate level) is something I wanted to do for a long time,” said the Covington High School senior. “I chose Indiana Wesleyan because the campus felt homey and when I made my visit the team made me feel welcomed. I also liked the coaches. They were awesome.”
In Mitchell, Indiana Wesleyan cheer coach Lindsay Reep will receive a talented and driven athlete who has excelled in competitions throughout her high school career. Indiana Wesleyan competes in the NAIA.
“I have done football cheer, basketball cheer, and competition cheer all four years of high school,” Mitchell explained. “Last year (in 2020) our team qualified for the National Cheer Competition at Disney and we won the OASSA State Championships (Non-Building Competition).”
Mitchell joins a list of recent Covington graduates who cheered at the collegiate level; Alexis Meyer at Wright State, Courtney Smidutz at Toledo and Sarah Pond at Urbana.
For Covington cheer advisors Gretchen Schmidt and Nicole Whiteman, it’s rewarding to see student athletes they train go on to the next level.
“It’s awesome to see Kayla receive this opportunity,” said Schmidt. “She knew since junior high that this is what she wanted to do and she worked extremely hard for this.”
When thinking of possible athletic scholarships, unfortunately people overlook the sport of cheerleading.
But with the opportunity awarded Kayla Mitchell, hopefully future cheerleaders choose to pursue an opportunity they never thought existed.
“Hopefully this generates more interest from young girls in the sport of cheerleading,” said Whiteman. “Kudos to Kayla for chasing her dreams.”
The sport of cheerleading is difficult and has become more and more competitive in recent years due to the intense training required to become a good tumbler.
“These girls are athletes, there’s no doubt about it,” said Schmidt. “It’s requires a lot of hard work. It’s funny, but one of our football coaches has used how hard these girls work (the cheerleaders) as an example for their boys.”
Mitchell has worked extremely hard at her craft for a long time – not only cheer practice with her teammates, but acquiring extra training in tumbling.
“Gretchen (Schmidt) and Nicole (Whiteman) and my tumbling coach Matt Miller at Tumble U have really helped me so much,” Mitchell said. “I can’t thank them enough for pushing me.”
Mitchell has also receive support from those close to her.
“My mom (Amy Mitchell), my grandparents (Andy and Pam Williams) and my great grandma (Helen Swob) have been so supportive,” she continued. “My sister (Kinsey Mitchell) cheers too.”
Once she arrives at Indiana Wesleyan, Mitchell will pursue her dream of becoming a sports reporter or personal relations manager as she will major in Sports Marketing and Communications.
“I really would like to eventually work at ESPN,” she said.
Until then Mitchell has the last half of her senior year ahead and hopes her and her cheerleading teammates can claim another state title.
“That would be awesome,” closed Mitchell.