Orlando, Fla. - Tennessee's cheer squad completed the final day of competition in fine fashion as they outperformed all but one at the Universal Cheerleading National Championships held at the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports Complex this past Sunday sponsored by Universal Cheerleading Association, Universal Dance Association and Varsity.
The Vols were the last team to take the floor as 15 other Division IA squads had put their routine before the judges and the crowd, which was at capacity. For Tennessee they would need a flawless performance to take the title away from defending national champion Kentucky. Many of the top teams had good routines, but they were far from flawless.
It was a routine they needed and they executed with near perfection. Not only did the Big Orange faithful give its rousing approval but so did the other fans in attendance. The orange and white rocked the crowd with their high-flying basket tosses and tumbling runs. The orange faithful brought the crowd to its feet half way through the routine as the squad belted out V-O-L-S. This competition may have been won by Kentucky, but the night belonged to Tennessee, which earned its first-ever second-place finish in school history.
The squad came into the national championships the healthiest they had ever been, but on the day of the semi-finals one of its' members broke her hand during an early practice routine getting ready for the night's competition. After several hours in the ER and bandaged with a cast wrapped heavy in padding, she took to the floor and continued with her stunts just as if nothing had happened.
It was a routine that the late Col. Gene Moeller would have been proud to witness. Col. Moeller was a longtime Assistant Athletics Director would was in charge of the spirit squads until his death three years ago. Prior to the announcement of the national championships in both cheerleading and dance, Varsity Spirit president Jeff Webb announced that from this year on they would recognize a collegiate administrator who had helped to promote the sport of cheerleading and dance. Tennessee would bring home the inaugural trophy as well.
The Tennessee dance team also finished in fine fashion bringing home a seventh-place finish and a clean sweep for Tennessee as they were the only program to place all of their competitors in the top 10 for Division IA schools.
The dance team's placement was a little disappointing considering the routine they put on the floor and their placement going into the finals. They ran a clean routine clad in beautiful orange uniforms, designed by one of the dance member's 87-year old grandmother, and backed by some good old-fashioned rock and roll from the late 1980s. It was a flawless routine and they deserved better.
As the sun set in Orlando on a somewhat chilly Sunday evening the event ended the way it began, sunny with a nice Tennessee orange glow sprinkled in throughout the event.
For more information on the cheerleading, dance or mascot program please contact the UT Spirit Office at (865) 974-4664.