St. Al’s Powell gets cheerleading scholarship with Northwest Mississippi

Published 5:18 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

A lifetime of tumbling and flipping has paid off with a unique opportunity for James Powell.

On the same day he received his graduation cap and gown with his classmates, the St. Aloysius senior celebrated another life milestone by signing a cheerleading scholarship with Northwest Mississippi Community College.

“I cheered ACE of Jackson, which is like all-star, and a couple of people I know have signed (with Northwest) before,” Powell said. “They have a really good program. Their all-girl team won a national championship last year. I went to a couple of clinics and decided that’s where I want to go, so I tried out.”

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Powell’s family owned a gym in Vicksburg and at an early age he learned how to tumble, flip and perform the kind of acrobatics that go into many routines.

When he reached high school at St. Al he became the school mascot, then joined the cheer squad prior to his senior year. He is the only male cheerleader in the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools.

Cheerleading was a natural and enjoyable showcase for his skills, he said.

“I really enjoy tumbling. It’s also really different. The environment is great, everybody is super supportive. It’s just really fun,” said Powell, who is also a member of St. Al’s tennis team.

St. Al cheer coach Kirsten Golding said Powell was one of the best tumblers — a term referring to someone who performas various flips and acrobatic moves — she’d ever seen. When he showed an interest in joining the cheer team, she was happy to find a role for him and he took right to it. He was named the team’s MVP this year.

“It was a natural transition. He was our mascot the past three years. He used that as his outlet and finally came for a tryout last year. He’s a go-getter for sure,” Golding said. “James was voted MVP this year. It only being his first year on the squad I think says a lot about his leadership and what kind of value he brings to the team.”

At Northwest Mississippi, Powell will take to the air as part of a top-flight cheer program. Northwest’s competitive all-girls cheer and dance teams won two UCA/UDA national championships in January. The co-ed squad has won four national championships in different disciplines since its formation in 2020.

Powell will be part of both the competitive and game day cheer squads at Northwest.

“I’m super excited because cheer is something completely different. I really enjoy it,” he said.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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