It’s football time in the bluegrass! And as the football team warms up and prepares for the big game against Mississippi State, we cheerleaders are also warming up and taking part in our pregame traditions.
My name is Zeke Robertson and I am a University of Kentucky cheerleader in Lexington, Kentucky. I have been on UCA Staff for two years and have been working with amazing teams from various places around the country. I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia and have always loved the color blue, especially Kentucky blue. But what’s it like to be a UK cheerleader cheering for the Wildcat football team? Let me take you through our game day experience!
The Cat Walk
When you are a fan tailgating outside of the stadium and you suddenly hear the sound of sirens going off, you know that it’s time for the Cat Walk. For cheerleaders, it’s time to get loud and start cheering as we lead the football team into the stadium! As we lead the team in, the band plays and dancers perform to get the fans pumped up for an incredible game! After the big entrance, we begin to warm up all stunts, baskets, pyramids and timeouts. When we are done warming up, we go to greet the opposing team’s cheerleaders and welcome them to Commonwealth Stadium.
Once we are warmed up, we go outside of the stadium and break off into groups with the band and dancers so that we can visit the various tents and alumni functions. This weekend happened to be our Homecoming weekend, so we were able to visit the alumni tents and perform small pep rallies to get fans excited for the game. Our final appearance before going back into the stadium is the Rally in the Ally! This is where dancers, band members and cheerleaders perform a big pep rally for the fans outside the stadium. We do various stunt sequences as well as our fight song. Then we do the traditional “Z Pyramid.” This is where a group of guy cheerleaders puts our Wildcat mascot in an extension with two shoulder stands, two shoulder sits and two girls on the ground on either side of the Wildcat, creating a pyramid formation while the band plays the song “Z.” The crowd really gets into this part of the pep rally!
Before the game starts and as the fans begin to take their seats inside the stadium, we have our pregame traditions. The band walks out onto the field while we cheerleaders begin doing stunts, baskets, the fight song and the National Anthem. But the best pregame tradition for any University of Kentucky football game is the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” The true spirit of Kentucky comes to life as the whole stadium sings the words to this beautiful song that paints a vivid picture of what Kentucky is truly like. After “My Old Kentucky Home,” we spell out the cheer that everyone knows: C-A-T-S. Hearing the fans yell this cheer always gets me ready for the game! We then run out to the middle of the field while the band makes a tunnel formation and we wait for the team to huddle up before running onto the field. Nothing gets me more excited than running the team onto the field while fireworks and canons go off and we tumble and yell!
After running the team out, we grab our partners and put them in the air for kickoff. Whenever the ball is kicked, the crowd yells with us: “C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!” After every touchdown, I run the “E” flag in “Kentucky” and the crowd counts together as the Wildcat does a pushup for every point we score. Throughout the game, we do various stunt sequences and timeout performances such as tumbling in the end zone at the end of the first quarter, throwing trick baskets and putting up stunts in front of the crowd. My favorite timeout is the Blue/White timeout at the end of the third quarter. We line up on the field, put our girls in shoulder stands and one side of the stadium yells “Blue!” while the other side yells “White!” The stadium always gets really loud and it’s a great example of Wildcat spirit!
Unfortunately, we did not beat Mississippi State, but we played a great game against them! Regardless of whether we win or lose, we always end every game with one last “My Old Kentucky Home.” Cheering for Big Blue Nation is the best decision I could have ever made. The fans are the true spirit of Kentucky and they want nothing more than to show how much they “bleed blue.” That is what I see every game day – a true blue, no doubt.
Thank you for reading my experience as a University of Kentucky cheerleader on game day! To see more game day spirit, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @KentuckyCheer. Go Cats!
photos by: Dr. Michael Huang