The University of Tennessee at Knoxville not only won the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl this season, but now it has even more reason to have high spirits — the cheer and dance teams won national championships.
The teams competed over the weekend in the 2020 UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance National Championships. UCA stands for the Universal Cheerleaders Association, while UDA stands for the Universal Dance Association.
The university’s dance team’s win was its sixth national championship since 2007, Tom Satkowiak, associate athletics director for communications, told The Tennessee Star. This was the cheer team’s first national championship.
The cheer squad entered the finals Friday on top after placing first in the semifinals among a field of 20 competing teams. Cincinnati finished second, followed by Ole Miss in third, according to a story by UTK’s Athletics Department.
Game Day Competition is a three-minute routine that mimics situations from a live collegiate football game. Cheer teams display the skills used to lead the crowd during a game.
Tennessee was one of just two programs to place both its cheer and dance teams in the top five of Division 1A in the Game Day Competition, joined only by SEC colleague Ole Miss.
Meanwhile, by clinching its sixth championship, the dance team became one of the most decorated programs in the nation, the UTK Athletics Department said.
The dance team’s road to the championship Sunday came from a new avenue.
The previous five national championships came about from the team’s jazz performances, but championship number six came from its pom performance, the department said. This was only the third year Tennessee dance competed in the pom category and was the first time the team advanced to finals.
The dance and cheer teams, along with the mascot program, are part of the university’s Spirit program.
The Spirit program became the only Division 1A program in the nation to claim at least one national title in all three spirit categories – cheer, dance and mascot. Costumed Smokey has claimed three national titles in the mascot division, the Athletics Department said.
All three teams also earned additional top-10 finishes over the weekend, with Smokey finishing sixth in mascot finals, dance claiming fifth place in the jazz dance routine and cheer finishing sixth in cheer routine.
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