Native News Network Staff in Entertainment. Discussion »
OKLAHOMA CITY A young Chickasaw woman will debut courtside November 3 when the Thunder hosts the Phoenix Suns. She will combine enthusiasm, great dance moves and a bright demeanor to Chesapeake Arena soon to entertain audiences and cheer on the National Basketball Association, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team.
Katie Callaway, a 2005 graduate of Ada High School in Ada, Oklahoma got there the old fashioned way she earned it.
And she’s a Chickasaw for sure unconquerable.
Two years ago, Callaway decided to put her years of dance training and cheerleading abilities to the ultimate test. She tried out for the Oklahoma City Thunder Girls, a dance team that entertains fans at home games for the newest NBA team.
She wasn’t chosen.
Despite the fact she was formally trained in dance from third grade through her sophomore year at Ada High School, her “technique” wasn’t what the team was looking for, she was told by judges.
“I worked hard, very hard, to improve my technique,”
Callaway said reflecting on the failed effort.
“ I worked on leaps, turns, and pointed toes. It was a full-on effort for a year. It was tough.”
In August 2013, the 26-year-old proved she was up to the challenge.
She was selected for the 20-member Thunder Girls squad during auditions at the tribe’s Riverwind Casino in Norman. Among the judges were Thunder staff, the patriarch of Oklahoma weathermen Gary England and Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswald.
Cheering the Best
“ I am so excited,”
“ I can’t wait to get on those sidelines and entertain the best fans of any city with an NBA team. I know Oklahoma fans are the best fans because I have been in those seats for the past six years.”
Cheering for the Thunder as a typical sports lover sparked her desire to be a member of the Thunder Girls.
“ I wondered what it would be like to be down there. I wondered how exciting it was for the team and how much they looked forward to it,”
Now that she is one of them, another trait typical of Chickasaw people has reawakened in her.
“ Entertaining fans will be great, but giving back to the community is even more important,”
“The Thunder organization is tops in visiting hospitals, assisting those who can use a helping hand, and being involved in all aspects of the community. Being a part of the organization will give me that opportunity to give back, which is something I’m looking forward to very much.”
She comes by her Chickasaw heritage naturally.
Her great-grandmother, the late Delta Wells, was an original enrollee with the tribe. Her grandfather, the late Jack Wells, served for years as a Chickasaw Tribal Legislator and made sure his granddaughter was immersed in the culture, history and traditions that make her Chickasaw.
“ We’d go to festivals and I was a member of the Governor’s Honor Club,”
“I learned my heritage is important and tradition is important. It is essential to know one’s self. I am very proud of my Chickasaw heritage.”
A Bright Future
Callaway wasn’t born in Ada, but she arrived in the community the Chickasaw Nation calls home as quickly as she could. Indeed, she was born in England where her father was stationed across the pond in the US Air Force. Her mother, Gayla, is a Chickasaw who works for the Chickasaw Nation.
Callaway’s cheer and dance team moves come pretty naturally, too. She was a cheerleader at Ada High School. She’ll be putting those moves to good use this fall and winter when the Thunder begins its quest to be the best team in the NBA.
It’s a part-time gig for Callaway. Her day job is with Chesapeake Energy where she works as a drilling engineer technician. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
She’s moved up quickly in her professional life. She started work at Chesapeake as a receptionist and was promoted quickly to her present job, which involves all analytics of drilling for natural resources.
“If you have a passion and you’re willing to learn and try new challenges, doors will open for you,”
New York City?
It may have been a four-month stint in New York that opened a door for Callaway. She discovered she wasn’t afraid of new challenges and unfamiliar surroundings.
As an intern for a public relations company in the Big Apple, Callaway drank in the city, its people, its unique place in America and its posh social settings while on the job.
Meeting editors of fashion magazines such as Vogue and others, in addition to “not being afraid to get out and explore” helped Callaway become more self-aware.
“It (the New York internship) was a very interesting experience,”
“I was given the opportunity to attend Fashion Week and meet important people. I realized I had more patience than most and I wasn’t scared to walk down the street, to say ‘hello’ or make eye contact. I believe my Oklahoma upbringing, my beliefs and Christian relationships made me pretty fearless.”
posted October 3, 2013 9:20 am edt