The Kentucky Cheer and Dance Teams are on their way to Orlando to compete for their respective national titles.
This Sunday the teams departed from Lexington in what will be a different kind of competition from years past.
The final practice in Lexington: ?
— Kentucky Cheer (@KentuckyCheer) April 24, 2021
KSR heard from head coaches Ryan O’Connor of Cheer and Dawn Walters of Dance to break down what sets this year apart from others.
There will be many changes in the chain of events at each respective competition, with no teams intermingling and all meals to be eaten in the athlete’s and coach’s rooms, as well as limited practice spaces at the resorts the athletes are assigned to.
Each team will also be assigned a “safety champion”, who will be assisting with COVID-19 protocols such as monitoring spectators and assisting with health and wellness checks.
View this post on Instagram
The number of spectators for each team this year is limited to 200, a stark contrast from the overwhelming crowds the ‘Cats normally bring, with Cheer consistently drawing the largest crowd at the event.
Spectators will be masked and socially distanced, as well as being asked not to yell for their favorite team.
This year the scores will be taken evenly from both days of competition to a combined 50/50 score, whereas in years past there was a semifinals and finals round. Both days will now be contributing equally to the final score.
This puts a new kind of pressure on athletes and coaches, as it requires a near-perfect showing on both days of the events in order to place highly, whereas in the past recoveries could be made on the final day, which held a higher percentage of the score.
Thankfully, neither coaches were worried about that and have the utmost confidence in their athletes.
Both Cheer and Dance compete on Tuesday and Wednesday of the upcoming week.
Good luck to the athletes and coaches, and bring home another national championship to Kentucky!