At Smith-Cotton High School, you can see senior Madison Lyles playing with the orchestra, on field trips with JAG and cheering at the side of football and basketball games. After high school, Lyles wants to do so much more than just start a career.
Lyles believes that overall, his high school experience has been rewarding, but he wishes he could’ve taken advantage of more advanced classes that he couldn’t afford. He also thinks that maybe if he tried a bit harder in classes, he would have been more successful.
As Lyles started high school, he noticed that some people didn’t understand something that makes him who he is: openly gay. He noticed some people were confused, judgmental, and prejudiced. However, Lyles said his friends have always been there to support him no matter what.
“I could always rant to them a lot and tell them how I was feeling,” Lyles said. He has noticed that people have been more accepting as he got older, and his friends have never stopped supporting him.
Lyles said he believes joining the S-C cheer team was a true turning point in his high school experience. It helped him make new friends and introduced him to new experiences.
“It opened so many doors, and so many people started to know who I was,” Lyles said.
S-C Cheer Coach Karmen Butler said Lyles is loud, outgoing, and dedicated to supporting his team and making them better. Butler added that when Lyles first joined the cheer team his freshman year, he was shy and quiet, and knew nothing about cheer.
“He has grown stronger, louder, and more confident,” Butler said.
Senior cheerleader Brittany Bobbitt has cheered with Lyles for three and a half years. Bobbitt notices the team can perform more difficult stunts with Lyles, who earned an All-America Cheerleader designation from the Universal Cheerleading Association in both his junior and senior years. Not only is Lyles a great physical aspect to the team, he is a great emotional supporter.
“He is such a spirit lifter; his smile is the best,” said Bobbitt, who hopes Lyles can accomplish all of his goals after he moves on from high school.
After graduating from S-C, Lyles plans to study at the University of Central Missouri for four years and major in modern language. He also plans to cheer at UCM. Lyles then wants to study abroad for a year, then come back to S-C and teach French.
“I want to give back to the community that raised me,” Lyles said. He added that his experience at S-C has shaped him into who he is today.
While Lyles does regret some of the chances that he didn’t take, he said he believes he was still successful. His advice to underclassmen is to be who they want to be and not let anyone change who they are.
“What happens here doesn’t matter; live your life and be confident in who you are,” he said.