Kayla Collins from General Douglas MacArthur High School has faced plenty of trials and tribulations throughout her time as a student-athlete.
Now a senior, Collins was once cut from the varsity cheerleading team, a devastating blow for someone who grew up loving to perform in front of crowds. She started cheering for the squad as a freshman, but the coaches opted to cut her just a year later.
“Kayla is more than a hardworking, dedicated and passionate athlete,” cheerleading coach Lisa Nessler said. “Outside of sports, she works endlessly with MacArthur’s athletes for a better community club, where she helped us collect more than 500 boxes for underprivileged children and provided activities and goods for children at Schneider’s Children’s Hospital. She is a role model, a true leader and the type of student-athlete you hope your kid turns out to be.”
In Collins’ junior year with the Generals, she returned to cheerleading by joining the junior varsity team. As this senior wraps up her high school career, she’s back on the varsity team as an alternate, making the unlikeliest of returns after competing on the varsity girls track and field team.
Q: What was it like to be cut at such a young age?
A: I was a little upset at first. But I decided to run track instead. I took my season doing track, and then I came back the next year. By then, I was back in shape when it came to cheer.
Q: What made you go back to cheerleading?
A: Cheer is something I was doing since I was little. There was always something that I loved about cheerleading. I love being around my teammates and the coaches.
Q: How did you work your way back to the varsity team after spending two years with the junior varsity squad?
A: I was the junior varsity captain. The summer before 11th grade, we worked really hard and something just clicked. I always wanted to come back. Now, I love spending time with everyone and it’s really enjoyable.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between running track and cheerleading?
A: Running track, you’re more on your own. Although you have teammates, it’s more individual. With cheer, you have a lot of team work. You’re more of a family with your team. They’re all my family and I trust them all.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I plan on going to college. Hofstra University is one of my top choices, and I just got accepted. I want to be a childhood education teacher, along with special education. I always loved children and being around kids.