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MTSU Dance Team competes in national championship ...

MTSU Dance Team competes in national championship in Florida

The MTSU Dance Team is headed to Florida this weekend to compete in the National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship for the first time in more than a decade.

Hosted by the Universal Cheerleading Association and Universal Dance Association, the competition runs Friday-Sunday, Jan. 13-15, at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex on the Walt Disney World property in Orlando, Fla.

MTSU Dance Team members Zephanie Dykes, center, and Abby Hutchins, left, show their school spirit during the team’s halftime performance Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Blue Raider men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. The dance team is competing this weekend at the UCA & UDA National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Fla. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU Dance Team members Zephanie Dykes, center, and Abby Hutchins, left, show their school spirit during the team’s halftime performance Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Blue Raider men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. The dance team is competing this weekend at the UCA & UDA National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Fla. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

First-year coach Rae Boutte, an MTSU alumna and former member of the team, said the 18-member squad will be competing in the Division IA Pom against programs such as Ohio State and the University of Alabama.

MTSU competes Saturday in the semifinal competition, with top teams moving on to Sunday’s finals in the premier college national championship in dance and cheerleading. The networks of ESPN will air the finalists’ performances at the competition later in the year.

“The team has worked countless hours over the holiday break to prepare for the event,” Boutte said. “We are all so excited to start building a nationally recognized program here at MTSU.”

MTSU Dance Team members Katie Leftwich, center, and Abby Hutchins, left, are all smiles during the team’s halftime performance Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Blue Raider men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. The dance team is competing this weekend at the UCA & UDA National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Fla. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU Dance Team members Katie Leftwich, center, and Abby Hutchins, left, are all smiles during the team’s halftime performance Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Blue Raider men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

The dance team is part of the MTSU Band of Blue and performs with the band during halftime of Blue Raider football games while also doing pre-game and in-game routines. The team also performs during halftime of some home basketball games, the latest coming Thursday night when the group performed its national’s routine at the men’s game at Murphy Center before jumping on a bus for Florida.

“It is a phenomenal group of students, and they have represented MTSU at the highest level this year,” said music professor Craig Cornish, director of the Band of Blue. “We are very proud of our dance team and our new coach.”

Boutte, who relocated from Georgia with her husband, Scott, and their two young sons a year ago, said the team attended UDA summer camps last year and submitted footage showing their routines and spirit-raising techniques in order to qualify for the competition.

“We are so excited to be representing MTSU, and we hope to bring more attention to the university and our program,” Boutte said. “It’s such an honor to get to come home and do this.”

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

The MTSU Dance Team performs at halftime Thursday, Jan. 12, at the men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. The team headed to Orlando, Fla., following the game to compete this weekend at the UCA & UDA National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

The MTSU Dance Team performs at halftime Thursday, Jan. 12, at the men’s basketball game at Murphy Center. The team headed to Orlando, Fla., following the game to compete this weekend at the UCA & UDA National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)


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