Age is just a number if you ask some people. Once you pass all of the milestone birthdays, time just seems to zoom right on by. You still feel like you’re 32, but your birth year is saying you need to add a decade or two. But if you don’t feel old, are you actually old or is society trying to put you in an age-shaped box?
If you ask the ladies of Sun City Poms, a cheerleading squad in Arizona for women over 55 years old, age really is just a number. That’s right, these ladies, some of whom are well past retirement age, have a cheer squad and man, are they active. Not only do the ladies perform, but they also march, and their practices would be a lot for people half their age.
According to People, the seniors practice three times a week for three hours at a time. That’s pretty intense, but it doesn’t stop these women from sticking it out, even the ones who are in their 80s.
While people outside of Arizona may just now be hearing of the Sun City Poms, the cheer squad has actually been around since 1979. It started as a cheerleading squad for a women’s softball team called Sun City Saints, and eventually evolved from cheering at games to performing 50 shows a year at different events.
Mary Zirbel, 81, has been with the squad since she was around 58. According to People, she joined after she saw them marching in a local parade. The group is only for people who live in the Sun City retirement community, and the group currently has 30 members. They even have some trainees who are being put through a thorough recruitment process to make sure they can hang with the lively crew.
“They’re always kidding me about being an old lady but they tolerate me,” Ginger Price, now 90, told Today in 2018. “I mean, I could make a mistake or something and I can say, ‘Well what do you expect, I’m old,’ you know.”
The group even performs at local high schools, and there are times when the students scream so loud for them that they can’t hear the music.
“I did not think they could dance like that or they could carry people, they could do the splits. Like I thought they were going to do like simple hand movements but no, they like blew my whole mind away, and the whole school’s minds away,” Emily Essa, a high school student, explained to Today.
Sun City Poms seems to be in a league all on their own. Remember the trainees mentioned earlier? Well, they have to do a three-month class and learn two routines to see if they can keep up before they’re even allowed to join the group. While their members are currently ages 58 to 90, the ladies plan to keep going until they can’t physically do it anymore.
Peggy Parsons, 81, told People that she’s hoping to continue with the Poms until she’s at least 90, so they can all celebrate together, saying the goal of the group is, “We aspire to inspire before we expire.”