Dance Places 3rd, Cheer 9th at National Championship
Smokey Finishes Top-10 in Nation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORLANDO, Fla. (Saturday, Jan. 14 2017) – Smokey has always been top-dog in the eyes of Tennessee fans. Last night the Volunteers’ costumed mascot proved to be a favorite in the eyes of National Championship judges, as well.
The Universal Cheerleaders Association hosted its annual competition where mascots from Division I-A universities competed against each other for the title of Collegiate Mascot National Champion. Smokey, a three-time national champion, entered the event ranked 10th in the nation but was able to improve to eighth in the final rankings.
For Spirit Program Coordinator and Tennessee Cheer and Mascot Coach Joy Postell-Gee, it was a return to excellence that has been the hallmark of Tennessee’s Hall of Fame mascot.
“I am so proud to see Smokey return to the top-10,” Postell-Gee said. “Smokey’s initial outing was in 1994 when former mascot Chris Broyles embraced the challenge to represent University of Tennessee in national competition for the first time. This initial entry earned a runner-up status, and since then the beloved canine has ranked in the top-10 every single year but last year, including the three national championships. So this display of excellence by the current mascot team is truly rewarding.”
Mascots from around the country submitted video footage in the Fall highliting their game day presence, fan involvement, and community service. Each video was judged and only the top-10 mascots were invited to compete for the title of National Champion where they performed a 90-second routine. The scores from the entry video and championship routines were combined to determine the final ranking. Smokey’s routine was a creative journey through the holidays of a calendar year and scored well enough to improve two places from the entry rankings.
Smokey’s long-standing status as one of the best in the nation was even reflected in the judging panel. Former National Champion Smokey, Adam DeVault, is the current Nashville Predator and served as one of the event’s judges.
Goldy Gopher from the University of Minnesota claimed the title of National Champion with SEC foe Aubie from Auburn University taking second place. Aubie was the only SEC mascot to place higher than Smokey. Big Al from Alabama placed 10th. Smokey and Aubie still remain the two SEC powerhouses as the only two mascots from the conference to claim national titles in previous years.
There will be little time for Smokey to celebrate, however, as he returns to the hardwood Monday night to cheer on the Lady Vols at We Back Pat night.
The UT Spirit Program, comprised of the cheer, dance, and mascot teams, is one of the most successful in the nation. Few programs boast the recognition gained by the Volunteers’ squads under Postell-Gee’s 25 years of leadership including three mascot national championships, five dance team national championships, and the cheer team’s perennial top-10 finish at their nationals competition. The cheer and dance teams compete in the national semi-finals later today, with finals slated for tomorrow.
For more information, visit www.utspirit.com.