As a role model, young girls look up to Moon

Tribe has supported her throughout her life

Kitsap County has many athletes who are state champions, game-changers and well-known for drawing attention, but nobody draws a crowd like Kingston’s Jayla Moon.

Girls basketball coach Charles Deam said he has never seen a community surround a player like Kingston has Moon. “It goes back to how great of a representation of her community, the support she gets and how her community raised her,” Deam said.

Moon is a part of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Young girls look up to Moon as a role model, and she leads by example showing them the sky’s the limit.

Moon has followed her parents’ footsteps in athletics. Her dad Scott Moon was part of the North Kitsap High School baseball team that won the state title in 1988. “My dad opens the gym for everybody on the reservation so I would go to tournaments with him since I was a baby,” Moon said, adding her parents played softball, and she started that sport at the T-ball level.

Moon recently finished her high school basketball career and began her senior softball campaign. Moon posted a .466 batting average and 22 RBIs while pitching 12 times with a 5-3 record and 67 strikeouts last year.

Although Moon’s accolades are great, she holds much pride in being the spotlight of her community. “My tribe has shaped me into the person I am today,” Moon said. “My tribe has trusted me to lead this generation of girls because I want to prove to the younger girls they can make it to college.”

Moon has been in the spotlight since arriving at Kingston High School as a freshman. People will see her at open gyms or her local community store and tell her they plan to watch her games. Moon has had supporters come from as far away as Vancouver to watch her play. “I feel like being in the spotlight can be nerve-racking because I want to prove to people they are not showing up for no reason,” Moon said. “I want to have a good game to show the little girls there what they can become with hard work.”

Even though it can be stressful, Moon knows she plays a significant role within her tribe.

“They are year-round for her,” Kingston’s softball coach Brenda George said of her community support. “Jayla is iconic and shows young Native American women what they can be and that they don’t have to be held back. Jayla holds it near and dear to her heart, and I’m proud of her for that.”

Although the eyes have always been on Moon, the first couple of years were tough for her to shine bright. “It was tough having to overcome failure,” Moon said. “I felt like those games were on me, and I was hurting the team.”

In addition, Moon had to handle the nerves of varsity basketball when she was a freshman. “I was nervous but Charles believed in me. I did not believe in myself and asked if he wanted someone else to guard her. He believed in me so it calmed me down and showed I can do it.”

Even when Moon had a rough game, she knew her community always had her back. “I love the support when I do fail,” Moon said. “Their showing up helps push me to be better because they are my people.”

Deam said, “Both of her parents did a heck of a job raising her and the community raising her too. She will be successful at whatever she does and represents her community so well.”

Once Moon took the spotlight of the tribe, she embraced being an underdog. “I’m always the underdog, especially at Kingston,” Moon said. “Nobody expects young native women to be good at anything. This year we proved everybody in softball and basketball. I like proving to people I can do it and you can’t ignore me.”

Moon became the leader by example for the basketball and softball teams. Moon was responsible for relaying team messages and supporting her team in basketball. In addition, she pushed Deam’s high standards onto her teammates.

“I have high standards of what I demand to be good,” Deam said. “There would be times last offseason where we would do weight room, and most of the time it was just me and Jayla there. She kept showing up to set the standard.”

In softball, Moon leads through her perseverance and willingness to compete every day. “As a coach, she is one of the players you never want out of your lineup,” George said. “She only came out when she was injured. She is showing people how it’s done.”

Moon became a crucial part of both teams having historical seasons. Kingston’s girls basketball team reached the state championships for the first time since 2009-10. Moon was a three-point specialist who never looked rattled or scared in the biggest moments.

Last year, Moon led the softball team to its first district win in a decade. She played many roles, including being a first-team outfielder in the Olympic League.

“Jayla is a force,” George said. “If I’m pitching against her, I would be nervous. She is going to find a way to make it happen. As a pitcher, she has all the tools to dominate. In the outfield, she knows the game inside and out.”

Many girls look up to Moon as a role model. Locals have asked her for help with homework, sports or even wanting to trade jerseys after games.

Moon’s high school career is nearly over, but she has begun receiving offers to play basketball at Centralia and Olympic college. When she leaves, she will be missed at Kingston. “She is just such a good person,” Deam said. “I have an office out of Kingston as well, and she always stops by the office, and we joke around.”

Moon said, “Without Kingston, I wouldn’t be here. I will miss these people because they always showed up for us.”