Alabama cheer, dance teams place at nationals

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

For The University of Alabama spirit squads, “gameday” means putting weekly practices and lifelong skills to work to support another team. It means helping fans cheer for the gymnastics team, taking pictures with future cheerleaders at football games and performing at halftime of basketball games.  

For one weekend every year, though, spirit squads take center stage. 

This past weekend, the Alabama cheer and dance teams traveled to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the annual Universal Cheerleaders Association and Universal Dance Association College Nationals. Each team competed in several events, including a second-place finish in the partner stunt division and a third-place finish each for the cheer and dance teams.   

Dance team coordinator and head coach Morgan Williams said that the program prepares all year for this one competition, and that they did “fantastic.” 

“This is the only competition, this one time a year, so we definitely put a lot of time into getting them there,” Williams said. “They got the bronze medal, so it was a fun experience to have that hardware around their necks and have something tangible to represent their hard work.” 

As the dance team coordinator, Williams’ main focus was the game day dance division, where her team finished ahead of Louisiana State University, University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky to earn its bronze medal. The third-place finish was the highest final standing of any SEC team in the division. 

Williams said that the ultimate goal of the competition is to show the judges what a football game in Tuscaloosa looks like.  

“It’s to take what your program does at home and show the judges the overall gameday atmosphere for your university,” Williams said. “We took Big Al, we had routines to ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ the Rammer Jammer and the fight song, along with signs and flags — really anything to show what our fans see at Bryant-Denny Stadium.” 

In the cheer division, the cheer squads put their stunting skills to the test and brought home the accolades to prove it. The all-girl team finished in third just ahead of UAB and the co-ed team finished in sixth.  

For the Crimson Tide’s spirit squads, their one weekend of competition has come and gone but their work is hardly over. Their presence, performance and pep are requested at dozens of events each year, especially now as the men’s and women’s basketball seasons are heating up and the gymnastics program continues to roll forward.  

“Throughout the year, the dance team and the cheerleaders are primarily focused on creating spirit and supporting other programs” Williams said. “It was unique that this one weekend it was time for them to be the competitor. It was fun to show that not only are our sports teams great, but also those dancers and cheerleaders who represent them are top-notch as well.” 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]