BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - “Never say never," and “you’re only as old as you feel," are a couple of tried and true sayings that could very well be the de-facto mottos for the Brunswick County Gatorettes.
This squad of four women, is a senior citizen cheerleading phenomenon. It’s like Diane Keaton’s 2019 movie “Poms” has come to life.
“It helps inspire you to stay young,” said cheerleader Liz Dock (class of `71). “It’s just so much fun. I’m not sweaty, I’m not beat, I’m not worn out, I could keep going.”
It’s a cheerleading squad that’s constantly evolving. Four ladies are on the squad, currently, but tryouts for next year are just a few weeks away.
All the women, now live in different communities sprinkled throughout Brunswick County.
“It’s a great stress reliever, because I’m a full time caregiver at home,” said Phyllis Litke (Class of ’70) who is currently looking after her husband and mom. “Sometimes I have to rush because my husband has appointments. Sometimes I can’t make it and I have to call and tell them I’m not going to be at practice. But I promise I’ll practice at home.”
The Brunswick County Gatorettes are talented, regardless of their age, but they recently took home top honors at the North Carolina Senior Games.
“I just look forward to it so much," said Donna Davis (Class of ’72).
Davis is living proof life can be better the second time around — 50 years ago, stage fright took hold and never let go. Her participation on this squad, is payback, to nerves that got the best of her the first go round.
“Back in the day I practiced and showed up at tryouts. The coaches said `Okay, show us.’ Well, I just burst into tears and ran out of the gym and never thought about cheerleading ever again," Davis explained.
Times have changed. Now these ladies are excited to be center stage. Laura Botto (class of ’70) isn’t afraid to tackle a cartwheel from time to time.
“The crowd responds and you’re doing good and you want to do a little bit extra and have them respond even more," Botto said. “The bottom line is we’re really young at heart and these cheers show you can stay that way. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you lost it.”
The Gatorettes practice Tuesdays at the gym of Brunswick County Community College. If you’d like to give those “blood, sweat and cheers” your best shot, there’s an informational meeting set for Feb. 11, 3-4 p.m. at the Brunswick County Parks and Recreation Department.