It’s a strong tradition in the sporting world to have a squad dedicated to getting the fans pumped. Halftime shows are carried on with intricate routines, smiling faces and energy that can potentially drive a crowd wild, and sideline shows carry on throughout the game to the beat of the band.
The atmosphere of a stadium has the power to either make or break the energy that can only be described as electric.
At Murray State, the Racer Girls’ goal is to get fans out of their seats and create the atmosphere of which any sports fan would dream.
“We like to get the crowd involved and have school spirit,” said former Racer Girl Captain Leah Kirchoff. “It’s also an opportunity for girls who danced in high school to dance again.”
Though only considered a club sport, the Racer Girls are a regular part of the football and basketball season. The squad attends and performs at every home game in both sports. A single routine can take as long as two weeks to completely choreograph, memorize and execute at an event, Kirchoff said.
The squad is student-run, with a captain and co-captain. There are no coaches or other staff involved. Kirchoff served as captain for three years, organizing fundraising events and making a steady budget on top of other duties.
Kirchoff said fundraising is a very important part of being on the squad. The women are in charge of making enough money to pay for expensive uniforms and any props necessary for routines.
While some fundraising techniques were typical pancake breakfasts and sponsorships, some were unconventional.
“The past three years, we had Racer One Bingo.” Kirchoff said. “There was a bingo grid on the side of the football field, and whichever square the Racer One horse pooped in, that person won $1,000. We enjoyed selling tickets to that.”
Ladies must go through a tryout to see if they have what it takes to advance. Kirchoff said past experience is important as well as good stage presence.
“You have to learn a sideline and dance and we see how well you perform them,” she said. “An ideal candidate is athletic, in shape and they have previous dance experience with good showmanship. When we see two girls who are doing the same routine, we pick a girl who can actually perform instead of just do the dance with no emotion.”
Once on the squad, a Racer Girl goes through conditioning at least five days a week and learns at least 16 routines by the end of the semester. Then, the dancing begins.
“We usually have two-to-three hour practices at least three days a week.” Senior Captain Kaitlin Cash said. “There’s a lot of stretching, and reciting our sidelines and half time routines a few times until we’re ready.”
The Racer Girls have been concrete in their structure of practice and scheduling, but one thing Cash is looking for in the new squad is camaraderie.
“This year, me and the co-captain are really trying to make sure everyone becomes friends,” Cash said. “It’s really important in a team to have that bond, and we want all of our girls to have each others’ backs and help one another out.”
The Racer Girls will make their fall debut at the first home game at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 as the Racers take on Central Arkansas.