By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The University of Kentucky Cheerleading Wildcats are headed to "The Jungle" at North Laurel High School on Saturday, Jan. 12 for the 2013 Big Blue Cheer and Dance Challenge.
The Big Blue cheer competition, hosted by NLHS, will feature 27 high school cheer and dance teams vying for the grand champion trophy, with more than 40 performances. The UK Blue Squad will kick off the performances with their never before seen nationals routine at 11 a.m.
"It's going to be a lot of fun and an opportunity to see some great teams, especially UK," said Kim Woods, co-cheer coach at NLHS.
The UK cheerleading team has won UCA's National College Cheerleading Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports a grand total of 19 times, and is looking towards their next big win in Orlando, Fla. next weekend. The UK Cheer program is recognized in the cheer world as one of the finest programs in America.
UK Cheerleading Head Coach Jomo Thompson makes his cheerleaders his first priority but, after hours, he makes time to help the Laurel County cheerleaders in their own challenges. He's been helping coach NLHS cheerleaders since their big national win in 2009.
"Not a lot of people realize what an important player we have in our program," said Selena Vaughn, cheerleading parent.
Thompson visits the local cheer squad at least once a week to assist with choreography and helps them to take their moves to the next level.
"We couldn't do it without him," Woods said. "It's a great opportunity."
UK and Laurel County squads have several close relational ties. Seven Laurel County students have been accepted to the cheer for the Wildcats over the years, and two previously cheered for North Laurel. For three years in a row, NLHS has been a runner up in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship and are revered for their excellence in performing hard to land stunts.
Saturday's event serves as an opportunity for NLHS cheerleaders to raise funds for the team's travel expenses to Orlando, Fla.
Admission is $10. Children 5 and under are free.