Cheerleading helps seniors make friends, get exercise

Members of the McDowell Senior Games cheerleading squad pose for a picture during a break at practice. Pictured are Ruby Killough, Marie Ledford, Vera, Washburn, Elizabeth Plemmons, Betty Prebor, Margie Carson and Irva Byrd. Not pictured is Francis Greene.

Every Monday afternoon, loud cheers can be heard inside of the McDowell Senior Center.

Those following the noise will find members of McDowell’s newly formed Senior Games cheerleading squad practicing the afternoon away.

The women who make up the small but spirited group have only been practicing as a team for the last three weeks, but members are already enjoying being part of the squad.

“It’s been really fun for me so far,” said team captain Elizabeth Plemmons, who in her younger days cheered in school. “I don’t remember a thing from when I cheered when I was younger, but I do enjoy the exercise and camaraderie I’m getting from this.”

Team member Marie Ledford said cheering had changed a lot since her days of cheering on a basketball court.

“When I was in school it was all about yelling and who could be the loudest,” said Ledford. “Our team would always clog across the gym floor whenever we came into the gym. This is different than that, but I love it.”

So far, the ladies of the team have learned several cheers and a dance to George Jones’ “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair,” which makes them kick up their heels.

“The dance has been the best one we’ve learned because it really makes you move,” said Vera Washburn. “That song sends a message, so you really get into it.”

The ladies will perform for the first time on May 1 at the Senior Center follies. Until then, they will be cheering and dancing their way to perfection — and possibly a trip to the state games in September.

“Are you ready to go to state?” asked McDowell Senior Games Coordinator Brenda Monosso.

“Lord, yes,” said Margie Carson, after a few of her teammate shied away from the thought of competition.

Team members hope that before their performance, however, they can round up a few more for the squad.

“The deadline to sign up for the Senior Olympics and this team is Friday,” said Monosso. “Right now we’re trying to build up this group. It’s been a long time ago, but at one time this was something that a lot of folks participated in at the Senior Center.”

Along with members, the team is also in need of assistance to equip its members with uniforms. Anyone who would like to make a donation to the team or even provide fabric for them to make costumes can contact Monosso at 659-0832.

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