You'll find Braden Mills at football games, but not wearing a helmet and pads. A junior at Chickasha High School, he has been an athlete his entire life.
Mills has been a Chickasha cheerleader for three years now. He's easy to spot on the sidelines, being the only male cheerleader on the squad.
Mills began cheering for the Fightin' Chicks in 8th grade.
"We recruited Braden when he was in middle school to compete at nationals with us," Head Coach Tammie Williams said. "He has stayed with cheer since then."
A lot of times cheerleaders hear comments, saying cheerleading shouldn't be considered a sport, Mills explained.
"I would challenge anyone who thinks that to come to one of our practices and see how hard we work," Mills said.
In fact, cheerleading and tumbling can be so intense, Mills suffered a devastating injury a few years back.
"I tore my ACL my freshman year," Mills said. "It still hurts, but I feel like I've become better from this experience, more so than thinking about the pain."
Not only does Mills participate in cheer during the school year, he takes part in Summer Pride. Four days a week, starting at 6:30 a.m, the Chickasha cheer squad works out and prepares for regional and state competitions.
"We haven't won state since my existence on the team. We got seventh place last weekend at our competition," Mills said. "There was a lot of hard competition like Jenks, Broken Arrow and other big schools."
Outside of cheer, Mills emerses himself in power tumbling at Sooner Tumbling in Chickasha.
"I'm actually a national champion five times in power tumbling," Mills said.
There have been a few male cheerleaders on the Chickasha squad before, but this year Mills is the only one. Although he may stand out to the crowd, he's really just another member of the squad.
"Braden has been tumbling at Sooner Tumbling since he was young with many of the girls on the team," Williams said. "So him being part of the team is very natural for both him and the girls."
"We're just like a family. A very close family," Mills said.
But not everyone is as supportive as Williams and the girls on the squad. Mills said he has been bullied for his participation in cheer, simply because he's a male.
"I try to keep myself always ready to hear something, and if I do hear something I like to take myself out of the situation. But it's a hard life to live as a male cheerleader," he said.
Although only a junior in high school, Mills serves as a positive role model to teenagers that have experienced bullying.
"I say it makes you stronger, and what I would have to tell someone else to do is make sure you have a lot of support from your coaches and your family and your friends. The ones you do trust," Mills said.
Mills said his mother is his biggest fan.
"There's no dad in the picture, but my mom is my big support," Mills said. "She likes to be at every event cheer and tumbling has to offer."
Both his Chickasha cheerleading coach and Sooner Tumbling coach have supported Mills from the beginning.
"I really do look up to my coach Tammie," Mills said. "I also look up to my coach Stewart, from Sooner Tumbling."
Williams is grateful for getting to coach teenagers like Mills.
"One of the blessings of coaching athletes from the eighth grade through high school is getting to see them grow up and become young adults," Williams said. "Braden is definitely becoming a wonderful young man who understands that being a gifted athlete is much more than the skills you have but about give your best to your team in all areas: practice, competition, school and life."
Through it all, Mills stays positive and looks toward the future.
"I also like to look up to God, a lot," Mills said. "I like to pray about it. It will get better. I try not to dread on it so much. I don't want to dread on things. If it happens, it happens. I want to move and have a better day."