By Lori Shull, Tennessee Tech Public Affairs
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tennessee Tech University’s Golden Eagles have always known Awesome Eagle is, well, awesome. Now the nation knows it too.
Awesome Eagle recently took the top spot in the open mascot division of the Universal Cheerleaders Association national competition in January in Orlando, Fla.
“There was a lot of hard work. We pulled a couple 14-hour days working on the routine, cutting, taping,” said junior Drake Fenlon, a member of the cheerleading squad. “I think this will help the university in the long run because this is the first national championship we’ve (spirit squad) won.”
During the minute-and-a-half routine, Awesome Eagle went through a typical day at the office, but his laptop was a “claptop” to get the crowd energized, the water cooler turned into a cooler of 5-Hour Energy, and the refrigerator was full of items, including a cut-out of YoUDee, the University of Delaware’s mascot. The blue chicken won the competition last year, beating Awesome by half a point.
This year, Awesome came out on top by two points. YoUDee has won the competition for four years in a row.
“The judges said we had great props, they said our timing was really good and they really liked our puns,” said Fenlon, a junior journalism major. “Nothing went wrong with the skit. As soon as it was over, everyone went crazy.”
The open mascot division is for all Division I universities whose teams do not compete in Bowl games. Teams submit two-minute videos that demonstrate how the mascot interacts with its campus community. Those videos are scored and the top five teams are invited to Disney to do a live routine. The video scores account for half of the final score.
This is the third time Awesome has competed in Orlando.
“We’re still in shock,” Fenlon, of Cookeville, said. “This is the start of something good, something awesome. People on Facebook the team doesn’t even know are really proud of Awesome.”
The university’s cheer and dance teams also competed. The dance team finished in the top 10 of more than 20 Division I teams. The cheerleaders were in the top 20 of more than 25 teams in their category of small co-ed Division I teams.
The competition was broadcast live on ESPN3 and the winning routines will be broadcast on ESPN sometime in April, according to Robin Burroughs, TTU’s cheer and dance coach.
The mascot team will be recognized for its achievement at the Golden Eagles basketball game Feb. 1 against Belmont University.