With a bunch of Kentucky cheerleaders on the other side of the globe representing USA Cheer at the Winter Olympics, who’s cheering for the Cats back home?
Well, last Saturday, several UK cheerleading alumni answered an emergency call from their old coach Jomo Thompson and filled in for the men’s home basketball game against Alabama in Rupp Arena.
“It took a few minutes to knock the dust off and oil up our joints, but I was pretty impressed with us all!” said Megan Loschiavo, a cheerleader from 2010 to 2014, who is now a nurse in Dallas.
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Most fans probably didn’t recognize the difference, but it did not go without notice on social media. The UK Police Twitter account hailed Officer Michael Culver in a video tweet, and Culver himself retweeted a photo showing he could still hoist a female cheerleading up on one hand with the best of them.
Alumni band members fill in for the UK Pep Band every winter break, but this was an unusual gig for former UK cheerleaders.
“We had an absolute blast the entire game. The Cats played so well, Rupp was rocking, and we just reveled in being back in one of our favorite places in the world. We just kept saying over and over how it all seemed like a dream. I was certainly on Cloud 9 all weekend!”
Kentucky has enough cheerleaders for two full squads. The Blue squad is the team that competes in the national championships fans hear about each year. They are the ones who’ve traveled to PyeongChang, South Korea. The White squad helps with football and men’s basketball games and also works sports including women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.
Members of the White squad compete in competitions as well, and last Saturday it was scheduled to take part in the CheerSports Nationals in Atlanta, meaning there would be a cheerleader shortage in Rupp Arena.
Thompson “ reached out to all of us (alumni) exactly two weeks before the Alabama game explaining that they needed some help,” said Loschiavo, who normally has to work Saturdays. “This was an opportunity I could not say no to. I’m glad my boss agreed.”
The White squad came home with its own national title and was back on duty last night for the UK gymnastics meet and at Saturday’s game in Rupp.
The Blue squad still has a few more days in South Korea. There has been no update on how fans can watch them other than on social media, but its title-winning performance at the UCA College Nationals airs for the first time Sunday morning on ESPN2. The show begins at 11 a.m.
UCA College Nationals
What: Watch the University of Kentucky cheerleading squad win its 23rd national title. Taped from January event.
When: 11 a.m. (ESPN2)