Karley Riley brings fun to her Marietta Mascot role.

Karley Riley, Marietta High School’s mascot, was named Best Mascot at the National Cheerleading Association’s summer camp, held July 16 through 19 on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Riley was also nominated for All-American mascot and named to the All-American team.

As a member of the All-American team, Karley will travel to Florida in January to perform at the halftime show at the Citrus Bowl.

Both junior high and high school cheerleading squads attended camp, which focused on team building and skill building exercises, along with learning new cheers and chants, but most of Karley’s time was spent in a separate area with other mascots, learning how to plan skits to perform in front of hundreds of people every night at camp, as well as during games back home.

Karley, who just completed her first year as mascot, went to camp believing she had a lot to learn.

“I became mascot because they needed somebody to do it and I thought it looked like a lot of fun,” said Riley. “I thought, ‘I can be silly in front of everybody, no problem.’”

She soon realized that there’s a little more to it than that. Being mascot means engaging the crowd so they get involved. And while lots of mascots have uniforms that cover their entire body and face, Karley doesn’t.

“My costume is all me,” she said, “so the crowd sees my face and my facial expressions.”

At camp, one of the things that Karley did was learn how to plan skits to get the crowd involved. And she was pretty good at it. She was given the highest rating among all mascots by her instructors, which earned her a blue ribbon to add to her collection of trophies.

“I think I benefited greatly from camp,” Karley said. “It brought me out of my shell and made me more interactive.”

Karley’s instructors weren’t the only people who had good things to say about her camp experience. Marietta’s Cheer Coach Tonya Bucher is also a big fan.

“Karley did an amazing job at camp,” Bucher said. “She embraced the instruction she received and did everything she was asked to do. Karley is a sweet girl and has a great, magnetic personality that people are really drawn to. I just can’t say enough about how proud I am of Karley.”

Karley, who is the daughter of J.T. and Ashley Riley and the granddaughter of Paul and Gayle Riley and David and Linda Patton, is a senior at MHS. And being the school’s mascot isn’t her only gig. She’s the starting catcher for the softball team and throws discus for the track team, she’s a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society, and she attends Southern Tech, where she’s already received her CNA and is working on her phlebotomy certification.

Karley’s long-term plan is to become an RN, and maybe someday a Physician’s Assistant because she likes to take care of people.

And even though she’s really busy and has her future all mapped out, during her last year of high school, Karley wants to work hard on being the Indians’ mascot.

Camp made me a better mascot,” she said. “Now I want to get people excited, get them to enjoy the games and have a good time. It’s a great way to support my school and my team.”