I Was An NFL Cheerleader
I am not trying to brag; however, I wanted you to open my blog and hopefully inspire you all to do things you didn't know you could do!
"to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation
rather than a serious or practical purpose"
When we were children, it was easy to play, right? No worries, no deadlines, no commitments, not a care in the world except playtime. When I grew up, I was involved in all sorts of activities: cheer, band, volleyball & softball. As I was raising my family, of course, playtime, sports, dance, cheer, ice hockey & football was a priority for my kids and not so much for their mom. I, like all of you, were busy taking care of the grown up things so my children could play. However, when my grandkids came along, all bets were off. It was so effortless to stop what I was doing and to get on the floor, play babies, dogs, trains, dance with them, sing like no one was listening and pretend. Most of my time when my grandchildren are around, goes to playtime. Enjoying the time that we are together because after all, I know how quickly times goes by.
My Grandparents and Me 1982/83
Mid-October, 2020, I received an email from the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleading Manager inviting all the alumni to participate in 45 seasons of cheer halftime celebrations. You see I had been an NFL cheerleader for the 1982 & 1983 football season (when I was 19 & 20 years old & a mere 115 pounds). Fast forward to the day I opened my email. My mind raced back to all the fond memories I had of learning dance routines, many practices, NFL games and the friends I had met while cheering for the Buccaneers. A lot has changed since I cheered: my husband and I raised three (3) independent, smart and family-oriented children & I have three (3) inquisitive & adorable grandchildren, whom are all the brightest lights in my life.
Oh yes back to the email. I was, of course, excited to participate in this halftime routine; however, when I really started to think about it, I began to question myself. You see they divided the 45 seasons of cheer into 4 performance groups depending on the year you cheered and I was in the oldest group. How in the world did that happen? Yikes. Would I be able to keep up in learning the routine? Would I be judged by how I look today versus how I was when I was 19 & 20 years old?
My husband was the first person I told and quickly, he said to "Go for it"! Next, was my daughter who immediately said "Mom, you are going to do this and you will do great". I gradually spoke to my family and have gotten so much support from everyone.
First rehearsal was via zoom , where we could see the Swash-buc-lers and the Senior Cheerleading Manager teach us the routine. Imagine my surprise when we learned the whole routine in one hour: going over hand movements, kick ball changes, 8 counts and something I had never heard of before: the wobble (it's a dance move and one like I've never seen before). My head was spinning: It is a 55 second routine, which seems like a 3 minute long dance and it is extremely fast. My daughter, Meg, was there with me for the first rehearsal saying "you can do this mom". I signed off on the zoom feeling like I knew the first half of the dance routine and feeling slightly discouraged. Let's face it, I can't shake it like these 20 year olds nor am I expected to. I am a 57 year old Gigi to three beautiful grandchildren and some of what used to be up has come down and you know what? That's OK.
After that first practice and realizing this video would be shown at the Bucs vs. Chiefs virtual halftime show in Tampa, Florida I came to this conclusion. This Gigi is going to do her absolute best to show not only her children but her grandchildren that in life you CAN do anything you put your mind to. I never want them to stop playing, never want them to stop enjoying life, trying new things and knowing that whatever they want to do in life, their Gigi will be cheering them on every step of the way.
So, I want to challenge each of you Gigi's, Mimi's, Nana's, Lala's and Grandma's! Step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve been wanting to do a 5k, walk a mile, start a new hobby; do it! What have you got to lose and you are setting a good example for the next generation. There is no time like the present and as women and grandmas , we need to be there for each other and lift up our fellow friends/grandmas. Show your family that there is no limit to what you can do let alone what they can do as well.
Dance like no one else is watching! Have Fun! Play! Don’t let age define you- it is not nor will I let it, define this Gigi!
My submitted video (click on the arrow below)
The half-time dance that was shown at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game on November 29, 2020.
I'm at 6:32 in the video bottom row, 2nd to right!