CHARACTER COUNTS NOMINATIONS

Mountain View pom captain Kayla Smith takes leadership beyond high school

Nov 22, 2022, 5:30 AM

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Mountain View High School is historically one of the best schools in terms of athletics. The Toros’ pom team is no different.

Over the past four years, Mountain View pom has won five state titles, including three straight Division I state titles. Eyeing a fourth straight title in December, the team is led by Kayla Smith, a senior who has been a part of the team since 2019, when she was one of just two freshmen to make varsity.

In her final season, Smith was named a captain of the Toro’s pom team, tasked with continuing to uphold the same standards and success..

“Being a team captain is such a huge role and I had no clue how much work and responsibility it requires until I was chosen to be it this year,” Smith said. “I’ve grown so much being the captain for three months and I’ve grown so much as a person. It’s been a great way to build my leadership skills.”

Smith’s goal as a team captain is to include everyone she can and make them feel comfortable while also sharing the same passion she has for pom. Smith has been dancing since she was 4 years old, working with multiple dance companies.

“I’ve been taking past examples and applying them to this year,” Smith said. “All of us seniors have tried to create a more inclusive environment and just have a fun time dancing and competing.”

Along with her dedication to dance and the pom team, she has taken up other responsibilities to continue being the best role model for her friends and peers.

Two years ago, she became a member of the National Honors Society and has taken the initiative in community service.

“I love NHS and how much it’s involved around community service and volunteering not just within our school but within our whole community,” Smith said. “My family has always valued community service … NHS is a great platform to do so.”

With the holidays around the corner, Smith and her family love to help out those in need, buying gifts, wrapping them up and delivering them to a designated family.

“It is humbling and the best part of the Christmas season to see those families and giving them their gifts. They are always so grateful,” Smith said.

Being a role model in community service also opened an opportunity for Smith with Teen Lifeline, a hotline that serves to prevent teen suicide in Arizona. Every September, suicide prevention awareness month, Teen Lifeline works with local student-athletes within Arizona to produce public service announcements for the organization.

Smith was selected for a PSA on an issue that hits home.

“My athletic director contacted me about this and it was two weeks after I had a friend die by suicide,” Smith said. “I knew when this opportunity came up, I had to take it and it would be a great way to give back and spread more awareness about it.”

Just a few weeks after posting it, the PSA received thousands of views and Smith had others reach out to her to show appreciation for getting the message out there.

“Even if my PSA reaches one person and helps save their life or reach out, I think it’s awesome even if it’s just one person,” Smith said.

With just months before graduating, Smith has begun looking ahead to the future, potentially attending the University of Arizona with the intention of getting on the pom team and pursuing dance and business in her studies.

Even as she moves on to the next stage of life, Smith hopes to continue helping her community and inspire others around her to take action as well.

“Giving back to everything that you’re given is so important,” Smith said. “Any small thing, like a compliment, can be so important and change a person’s life.”

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