Kentucky basketball fans are in for their annual treat Saturday at halftime of the home game against Auburn when the Firecrackers, a performance jump rope team of talented fourth to eighth graders from Kings School District in Ohio, will perform.
The team performed at the Army-Navy basketball game in Annapolis, Md., last weekend and has already been at Belmont, Louisville, Indiana, Xavier, Penn State, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this year.
“We’ve added some new tricks and we are always trying to speed things up,” said Julie Lewis, who has a daughter on the team and also helps coach Lynn Kelley at practice. “They work hard every day and always want to make the show better for those who have seen it before.”
Kentucky fans seldom leave their seats at halftime when the Firecrackers are performing at Rupp Arena. The Firecrackers notice and that’s one reason UK is one of their favorite shows each year.
“They look forward to coming to Kentucky every year,” Lewis said. “It’s their favorite place to perform. The eighth-grade girls always tear up when this show is over because they know they won’t perform again in Rupp Arena.”
The Firecrackers made their SEC Tournament debut in St. Louis last year. They will be back at the SEC tourney in Nashville in March for a performance during the semifinals.
“The SEC was a great time. Kentucky fans were great at the FanFest,” Lewis said.
The Firecrackers have 22 performers, including one boy. Only three are newcomers who will be making their Rupp Arena debut and Lewis says they are all excited because of what the older girls have told them.
Lewis said the “rump jump” that UK fans like so much will again be part of the show.
“We’ve added a twist where two girls sit beside each other and do it at the same time,” Lewis said. “We also have some new gymnastics tricks I think fans will like.”