Ball State's Code Red Dance Team will join the cheerleading squad for the UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship Jan. 14 and 15. The teams will compete separately in their respective divisions for the Championship held in Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Grace Ramey // DN

For the first time, the Code Red Dance Team will join members of Ball State’s cheerleading squad for a trip to Orlando to compete in the UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship this weekend.

The teams will compete separately in their respective division but make the trip together. The championship is at Walt Disney World, with semifinals Jan. 14 and finals on the following day.

To prepare, both teams held practices several days over Winter Break in order to perfect their routine.

Code Red’s typical routines focus more on entertainment and are shorter and more condense, while their competition routine combines entertainment and a higher level of difficulty.

A choreographer came in and presented tricks to the team, and the gymnastics room became their new training facility and testing ground for the 12 women.

“We started from scratch [with our routine] this year … we even YouTubed [tricks],” Coach Amy Wilkins said. “I’m going to be proud of them no matter what … I learned honestly right along with them and I just helped encourage them … they all have done so well.”

Kaitlyn Ewing, the Code Red captain and a junior hospitality and food management major, has been a Code Red dancer for three years. As captain, her main role is to ensure that team morale is up during practices through leading by example and cracking jokes if tension rises.

“I think that’s kind of my job, because our coaches are there to discipline us and make sure we’re doing everything right, but I feel like my job as captain is just to make sure everyone is still having fun,” Ewing said. “Being able to share the experience with them and this specific group of people [is something] I’m really excited about.”

Wilkins is in her ninth year of coaching Code Red, and was a Code Red dancer herself in 1998.

“[Coaching] is totally my thing, my passion … if you are in the cheerleading or the dance world at all growing up, you know what UDA is,” Wilkins said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to not only be able to compete against these 1A colleges [but also] little Ball State University going is a great opportunity for us and also just for Ball State to get our name out even more and for Code Red to get their name out there.”

The cheerleading squad is taking a total of 22 students, but only 16 will get to compete on the mat. The nationals team includes cheerleaders from both the all-female and co-ed squads.

Dana Roth, a senior public relations major, is one of three senior leaders on the cheerleading squad and will travel to Orlando.

“The atmosphere [at nationals] is exciting and there’s tons of people there so the energy is super high. You’re performing in front of people that love cheerleading, so it’s a little bit harder than here, where cheer isn’t a big thing. Down there, there are hundreds of squads and everyone loves cheerleading,” Roth said. “It’s so encouraging.”

Several other schools normally bring their cheerleading squads and dance teams to nationals. Roth said having Code Red there with them will be beneficial.

“We’re super good friends with them since we do everything with them, so it’s really nice to have them there and yelling our cheer with us and having people in the audience that love Ball State as much as we all do,” Roth said. “Being so far from home, it’s a little bit harder to have anyone in the crowd that are Ball State fans.”