Pack Attack

Red Wolves spirit has "a new name, new team, new coach and new outlook."

Jessica Runnels is the first coach of Indiana University East's new "Pack Attack" spirit squad.

The Pack Attack combines the roles previously performed by the cheer and dances squads into one new group.

Runnels is a Richmond native with extensive dance instruction experience who is about to start her seventh year with the Pacemates, the official dancers of the NBA's Indiana Pacers.

"I was really excited about this opportunity. It seemed like fate - a school in my hometown was looking for a new coach for a brand new year to try new things," Runnels said. "I grew up around dance and choreography and teaching and always had the desire to coach my own team, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to open that door."

Runnels says the new Pack Attack will still incorporate cheering and chanting - without stunting - and more of a focus on dance.

The Pack Attack will be open to female and male students.

"It's going to be a good experience. We're going to try to give the feel of a pro team. It's going to be about entertainment, high energy and getting the fans involved. We want the fans excited, not only to see the basketball teams play ball, but also to see us run on the court to perform.

"The thing we've got going is it's brand new - new name, new team, new coach and a new outlook on a spirit squad."

The squad made its first appearance Sept. 21 at the Kidsfest Moonlight Parade and plans to be part of multiple community events in addition to IU East home basketball games.

Runnels was part of the Pom Squad while at Indiana University Bloomington and joined the Pacemates in 2007. She is entering her third year as the Pacemates' captain.

She has traveled to Seattle, Las Vegas, Taiwan and China on behalf of the Pacemates.

"The amount of opportunities I've been able to experience through the Pacers and the Pacemates has been an eye-opening experience. It's something I've been very fortunate to be able to take part in," she said. "A lot of times people don't realize how much hard work goes in to being on a pro dance team, but every girl on that team puts their heart and soul into putting a great product on the floor."

Runnels says current or potential IU East students with in interest in the Pack Attack should contact the IU East Office of Campus Life at 765-973-8240, or visit the IU East "Recruit Me" Web page, click on "Cheer/Dance" and fill out the online questionnaire.

"I want as many people as possible to have the opportunity experience the love I have and joy I got through dance and performing," she said.