LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky cheerleaders are trading in their blue and white for red, white, and blue.
USA Cheer chose University of Kentucky Cheerleading to represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
"We're very excited about the opportunity," said Coach Jomo Thompson. "To have the Stars and Stripes on your chest and representing our country, it's a tremendous honor."
It's a honor that's well-deserved. The team has earned 23 national titles. Now, a 16-member squad will perform on a global stage in exhibitions and take part in a competition against six other countries.
"They call it a friendly competition, but all I heard was competition," Thompson said. "We want to make sure we go over there and do the best."
For the athletes, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. This tight-knit group looks forward to sharing the experience.
"Traveling with anyone is awesome, but traveling with people you really like ... and really enjoy their company ... is another amazing part of it. I'm excited to explore the new places with the same people," said Kelsey Lacroix.
The team will leave for the Olympics Feb. 17, but until then, they will be working hard on their routine. This group is used to competing, but not on as big of a stage.
"We've always prided ourselves on doing really difficult stuff and making it look easy, so that's our goal," said Joshua Marsh. "To go down there show the whole world ... not just the nation ... what cheerleading is made of ... and not just what cheerleading is made of ... but cheerleading in the United States is made of."
The International Olympic Committee has awarded the International Cheer Union provisional recognition. The hope is by showcasing the sport, cheerleading will have a better chance of participating in future Olympic Games.