Feb. 10, 2005
Orlando, Fla. - On the final night of competition at the 2005 UCA/UDA National Championships one of Tennessee's own was honored for his contributions to the growth of the spirit groups at Tennessee. And fittingly Col. Gene Moeller's name will be etched on a plaque each year as UCA recognizes a university administrator who has made an impact on the collegiate level of cheerleading, dance and mascots.
Col. Moeller was a member of the 1951 football team that won a national championship under Gen. Robert R. Neyland. After his days in college Col. Moeller went into the army where he served for more than 20 years as a helicopter pilot. He flew during the Korean War and reached the rank of full colonel before his retirement.
Col. Moeller then returned to the University of Tennessee where he was an Assistant Athletic Director overseeing operations. One of his duties was that of watching over the spirit groups.
Because of his support the University of Tennessee is one of the most highly regarded and respected programs in the country for cheerleading, dance and mascots. In the last six years the program has seen Smokey claim two national titles and two second place finishes, including this past Saturday night, while both the cheer and dance programs have consistently finished in the top 10, with each reaching as high as second place as the cheer squad claimed in the finals of this year's competition.
"We have seen unprecedented growth on the collegiate level and it is the administrator at these universities who are the unsung heroes, because it is their support that has allowed the growth of these programs," said UCA president Jeff Webb. "We want to recognize those people who have made such contributions, and each year we will present an award in Col. Gene Moeller's name to an administrator who has made an impact on the spirit groups on the collegiate level."
It is a great honor for a man who enjoyed watching the men and women who wore the orange and white represent his university and be successful at the competition. It was said that at times he could tough on his athletes, but was because he cared more about seeing them succeed as people more than as athletes. As UT spirit coordinator Joy Postell said "these men and women filled a void left in his life after the death of one of his daughters. He could be extremely tough on the men at times, but he loved each one of these kids as his own."
This year's award not only goes in Col. Gene Moeller's name but was awarded to the University of Tennessee as it's first recipient. It was a fitting tribute and a great way to culminate a great weekend for the University of Tennessee spirit program, which was the only program in Division IA to place all of its participants in the top 10. It was a weekend he would have been proud to have witnessed.