Big time

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By John Herndon

LEXINGTON It didnt take an Andre Woodson to Stevie Johnson pass or the ESPN Game Day cameras to remind Brittany Hudson she had made the big time.

It hit me with the first football game, Hudson said of her debut as a University of Kentucky cheerleader. It was just the crowd and everything about it. It was so much bigger..

Big crowds. Big league.

Those terms accurately describe where Hudson is now on the sideline at Commonwealth Stadium doing her best to keep 70,000 fans cheering on the Wildcats in their surprising ascension to a place among the nations best football teams.

Two years ago, Hudsons future looked bright as a member of the award winning cheer squad at Anderson County High School. Everything seemed to take a detour when she enrolled at Morehead State University but did not try out for that schools national championship cheerleaders.

I had some health problems, she simply says.

After deciding to transfer to UK to continue her studies in dietetics, Hudson auditioned for the cheerleading team. When selected, it was like a dream come true.

It was amazing, she says. It all happened so fast and I could not believe it.

Believe it.

Her spot on the sidelines at Wildcat football games is not far from the Wildcat bench. As the game goes on, Wildcat punter Tim Mashtay is often just a few feet from Hudson as he warms up.

Yet, Hudson says that after the initial awe, she is really not nervous on the sideline.

Its kind of like the competitions, she says. Prior to that game against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 1, the largest crowd Hudson had ever cheered before was at the national cheerleading championships in Atlanta.

The dream job is keeping Brittany busy. In addition to home football games, she has also been cheering at UK volleyball games this fall. I had never seen a volleyball game until I was cheering at one, she says with a slight chuckle.

Brittany will also be on the squad assigned to UK womens basketball. While she is not on what is considered the top UK cheerleading team, she will be cheering at some Wildcat basketball games once the team gets into the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule.

While the Wildcats suffered their first home loss of the season when Florida won on Oct. 20, Hudson was still smiling after the game. But four hours earlier, she had allowed that the Wildcats success and lofty ranking had made cheering easier.

She was on the sideline when Woodson hit Johnson for the game-winner against Louisville and the Wildcats stopped top-ranked LSU almost directly in front of her vantage point.

This year has been awesome, she says. I have gotten to experience all of that.

I cant even explain how this feels.