After three and a half hour practices twice a week, additional individual practice and the help of a personal trainer, Ball State’s Code Red dance team ended its season with a sixth place finish at Nationals. 

Head coach Olivia Ralston-McGarvey said placing sixth didn’t feel real when it happened, and even though the team was hoping to make it to finals, where they placed was a dream come true. 

“It was life changing. Right when we got off the stage on the final day, we were all like, “That seriously just happened,’” said Kyleigh Cramer, junior Code Red Dancer. “We literally could not have been so happy with the outcome, and we all left nationals knowing we left everything on the floor. I now know what this team can do, and we are only going up from here.”

Most of the dancers on Code Red have been dancing since they were children, so getting used to the stage and competing in college didn’t take long. 

“A lot of us have grown up competing in some way through school dance teams or studio and being judged at a competition. [It] is nerve wracking but exhilarating,” said India Garner, junior Code Red dancer. “We love showing what we got [in order to] ‘wow’ the judges, but at the end of the day, it’s the feeling of leaving your heart and everything on that stage [and] all the hard work pays off.”

For Cramer, the experience was very similar, and she said she could not wait to be apart of the Code Red family. 

“I have been dancing since I was 3 years old, and I knew after high school I couldn’t give it up, but how I ended my senior year on a dance team left me uneasy. I didn’t know I was going to try out until a week before the audition, and I immediately started bedazzling a sports bra,” Cramer said. “I stalked Code Red’s YouTube videos and Instagram’s pictures for months before the audition, I knew in my heart I wanted to be on the team.”

Local Muncie events and Ball State sports games are a big part of the Code Red season, but the National competition is something the team looks forward to every year because it is where they get to really show off its hard work. 

“The Code Red dance team is a spirit squad just like cheer, but [we are] more focused on dance than anything,” Garner said. “We perform at home football games, men and women’s basketball, some volleyball games, compete at NDA Nationals and do showings at events throughout the Muncie area.”

In the past, Ralston-McGarvey said the team competed in the UDA competition, but this year she switched them to the NDA Nationals competition.

Cramer said the dancers are excited to continue competing at NDA Nationals because they get to live the dual life of side-line and nationally ranked dancers. They are also hoping to move up their placement in the years to come. 

“I think the best part is knowing I am in the moment where Code Red is changing and making history to make this team even better down the road,” Cramer said. “This team will always have a special place in my heart, leaving next year will be the hardest thing I have had to endure this far in my life.”

Because of the bond the dancers, coaches and staff have created, everyone is able to feed off each other’s energy and get each other excited. 

“[The] best part of being a part of this team is how close you get with the other girls,” Garner said. “We truly are a bunch of sisters who always have [each others] back and just they turn into some of your best friends.”

Code Red is currently working to prepare the newest members for next year’s season, as the team works to make it father at Nationals. 

“The experience can be really tough, crucial and tear you down, but then again, it is so rewarding getting to represent Ball State and be proud of who we are,” Garner said.

Contact Kamryn Tomlinson with comments at kptomlinson@bsu.edu.