Former pom now Pacemate in charge of Code Red

Michelle Bowyer has switched roles. This time last year she stood in as not only Miss Ball State, but as a co-captain of the Pom Squad.

After stepping down as Miss Ball State less than a week ago, Bowyer still finds herself very connected to Ball State. She is now the coach of Code Red, formally the Pom Squad.

She is not only the coach of the Code Red squad; Bowyer has advanced her dancing career to the professional level as well. Bowyer currently serves as one of 14 Indiana Pacers professional dancers: the Pacemates.

It is Bowyer's first year on the squad, and according to the Ball State alumna, competition was tough to get picked for the team.

Tryouts for the team were the last week of July and began with approximately 250 women. Bowyer explained that the first cut broke it down to 80 women and the second cut down to 30. The final 14 were chosen from that 30.

"It is a great experience," Bowyer said. "It's such a higher level than being on the Ball State level. It's pretty much the same thing as far as the game goes, but there is more maturity."

Bowyer said that extra maturity comes in the various events the Pacemates are asked to attend, such as luncheons and television appearances. Along with those, the Pacemates find themselves making appearances at other outings, much like this Saturday.

The squad will perform at both the Ball State men's and women's home basketball games this Saturday. The women's game begins at 1:30 p.m., while the men's game is slated to begin at 4 p.m.

"I really am excited," Bowyer said of returning to Worthen Arena Saturday. "It will be good because I got to know quite a few of the regular fans.

Bowyer also said she was especially excited her Code Red team would get the opportunity to see her perform.

They may be appearances, but they aren't charity work. Each Pacemate gets paid $40 for a performance while each dancer gets $50 dollars for each Pacer game.

The Pacemates practice twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays at Emmis Court, a practice court in Conseco Fieldhouse. Bowyer, however, still lives in Muncie and must travel back and forth to practice and games.

Because of all the driving time and the fact that most Pacemate appearances take place in Indianapolis, Bowyer finds herself missing Code Red practice and appearances quite often --+â-è50 percent of the time.

"I miss the girls," Bowyer said of Code Red. "I don't ever worry about them. I mainly do a lot of conversing with them by e-mail. I always make sure they are prepared.

"It's kind of hard, but I knew that going into it."

Bowyer went on to explain why, even though she knew it would be difficult, she took the Code Red coaching job.

"They didn't have a coach for like a month and half and there was no interest. I had heard they were going to do away with them, so I said 'no way' and that's why I took the job."

One misconception that may come with the Pacemates is their involvement with players. Bowyer said that is not allowed under any circumstances.

"It's kind of in our contract that we aren't suppose to talk to the players," Bowyer said. "As far as calling them or getting to know them on a different level, we aren't supposed to.

"(The Pacers) like to keep it on a professional level and I can understand that."

Bowyer said that even though she isn't allowed to interact with the players, being as close as she is to some of them is one thing that makes the hard work worth it.

"I love the atmosphere of the game," she said. "I have seen all those guys play -- Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Reggie (Miller).

"Its really really cool to have Jordan walk by me; I mean, I have always watched him."

Bowyer spends the only remaining free time in her schedule as a one-day-a-week teacher at the Cole Academy in Muncie. There she teaches hip hop dance classes as well as one tap class.