Think cheerleading is reserved for the young? Think again! In this lively and inspiring episode of “Living Ageless and Bold”, Christina Daves interviews the extraordinary Sherry Cantrell, a 75-year-old cheerleader with the Sun City Poms. Today, you’ll hear all about the remarkable journey of the Sun City Poms, a group of spirited women defying stereotypes and inspiring others with their energy and passion.

More Than Cheerleading

Christina emphasizes that the group is not a conventional cheerleading team but rather a diverse and dynamic pom-pom squad. They consider themselves a performance club, composed of women ages 55 and up who embody the expression that “age is just a number”. 

History of the Sun City Poms

Our guest, Sherry Cantrell, shares the intriguing history of the Sun City Poms. This spirited group of women originating from Sun City, Arizona, aren’t your typical cheerleaders. Founded in 1979, they were initially part of the Sun City Saints, a professional women’s softball team. However, the enthusiasm and energy displayed by these women extended far beyond the softball field. While they did help increase attendance for the softball team, the Poms started gaining popularity on their own. Soon, they became the Sun City Pom Poms, performing in various community events. A journey that began with promoting the team evolved into a lasting legacy, shaping the vibrant Sun City Poms as they are known today.

With a lineup of 32 spirited members ranging from their 60s to a remarkable 90-year-old participant, the Sun City Poms boast a rich history of participating in prestigious events such as the Fiesta Bowl Parade. That’s right, these incredible women have been performing in the exciting and massively popular parade since 1979. 

Spreading Joy

Their performances extend far beyond prestigious parades, though. In fact, the Sun City Poms perform at 40+ events September through May each year. They are radiant embodiments of unbridled joy, infusing their community and audiences with an infectious exuberance that transcends age and background. Their spirited performances radiate an unparalleled energy, spreading delight and enthusiasm wherever they go. With every synchronized step and pom-pom wave, they unleash an abundance of joy that washes over their audience, brightening the spirits of everyone they encounter. The sheer passion and camaraderie these women exude are nothing short of inspirational, showcasing the incredible power of unity and the everlasting impact of positivity. Whether captivating crowds at parades or touching hearts in care centers, their performances evoke smiles, laughter, and a sense of collective jubilation. Their unyielding dedication to spreading happiness is as remarkable as it is uplifting, reminding us that the simplest moments can often create the most profound and lasting impressions. The Sun City Poms are not just a dance troupe; they’re a beacon of pure, unadulterated joy and an ever-glowing source of inspiration for us all.

What Does it Take to be a Sun City Pom?

Interested in joining the Sun City Poms? Good news, formal cheerleading training is not required. The requirements include residency in Sun City, a minimum age of 55, and a passion for dance and camaraderie. Sherry points out that team members need stamina to be able to march in the parades and complete the routines. She elaborates that during the trial period,  potential members participate in a 12-week training class to showcase their ability to learn routines, maintain rhythm, and engage with the team’s energetic spirit. 

There are two ways to participate, and Poms can choose one or both. The marchers practice a minimum of one hour a week. The performers rehearse around 10 hours each week. Sherry shares that it is a challenge, but it is a great way to stay mentally and physically fit.

Support From the Fans

These incredible women volunteer their time to participate in the Sun City Poms. And the community shows their support through sponsorships and attendance at events. The various local sponsors who believe in their mission offer financial aid, which helps cover costs related to costumes, travel, and equipment. 

Their performances at high schools especially stand out, where their contagious energy captivates students, earning them immense admiration from the younger generation. The high school students love seeing the Sun City Poms perform. Sherry recalls a time when a student even asked a Pom teammate to go to prom with him. When the Poms perform, the students cheer and go crazy making the experience fun and rewarding for all involved. “The little girls are just enthralled with us,” Sherry says. “They’re cheering us . . . you get a lot of energy back from the crowd and from the people that are watching you. And you see the joy in their faces and the support that we’re getting and the joy we’re giving them.”

The Sun City Poms’ routines, carefully crafted through hours of dedicated practice, aren’t just about dance; they encapsulate stories of celebration, respect, and honor. When they perform military-themed routines, the emotions and patriotism often evoke tears in both performers and audience members. Sherry recalls emotional anecdotes of the deeply moving experiences they encounter, such as a poignant interaction with a World War II veteran profoundly touched by their tribute to the military. He had lost two sons who served in the military, and the performance brought up a lot of emotions for him. He and the performers shared a beautiful, personal moment as they honored the brave men and women who protect our country.

The Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to everyone, and the Sun City Poms were no exception. In March of 2020, they got a new board. Then the world shut down. During 2020, they were unable to practice in their facility and they lost some team members. The women had to get creative to keep the fire burning. Group walks and zoom rehearsals kept the club going. Fortunately, the group’s resilience during the challenging times helped them to adapt. When things started to reopen, the Poms recruited and welcomed new members, and the team emerged stronger than ever. 

Important Causes

Beyond their incredible dance performances, the Sun City Poms engage in philanthropic endeavors that uplift their community. They often volunteer and perform at charitable events, fundraisers, and community gatherings, bringing their infectious energy and entertainment to raise funds for important causes. The group’s philanthropy goes beyond the confines of dance routines, though. Causes such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and March of Dimes are important to the club. Their commitment involves contributing their time and talent to support initiatives related to health, education, veteran services, and other community needs. Their involvement in philanthropy stands as a testament to their dedication not only to dance and entertainment but also to making a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of those around them. The Sun City Poms help to bring in donations and funding to support important causes.

Celebrity Status

Throughout their history, the Sun City Poms have garnered recognition on various media platforms, been featured in documentaries, and made appearances in notable publications such as People Magazine and National Geographic. Their reach goes far beyond their local community, reflecting their broader impact and inspirational story that has captivated audiences globally for decades. Throughout their history, the team has met famous celebrities, athletes, and politicians. Christina, inspired by the enthusiasm and determination of the Sun City Poms, expresses her eagerness to channel Sherry’s vibrant energy into the podcast “Living Ageless and Bold” podcast.

Fun, Fit, Inspiring

This episode encapsulates the resilience, joy, and community impact fostered by the Sun City Poms. It showcases how passion, unity, and a zest for life transcend age barriers, inspiring countless others to live life to the fullest. Part of their mission is to inspire people; they consider themselves ambassadors for healthy living and fitness. No matter your age, you can still get out there to have fun and be active, just like the Poms!

“It’s even more fun than it was five years ago,” Sherry shares. “We’ve got a great group of women. Our culture is like a sisterhood. We’re all bonded. It’s almost like being back in college when I was in a sorority.” Although it is a group of like-minded women, they each come from varied backgrounds and diverse occupations and experiences. The diversity makes the group even more dynamic – and close. “We’ve become very, very close. They’re my support group. They’re my friends. We know things about each other’s families . . . I’ve grown up with them. I’m growing up with them in my old age.” The group’s diverse membership has cultivated a strong sense of sisterhood. 

These bold and inspiring women aren’t fighting against age, they’re embracing it and living each moment to the fullest while inspiring others to do the same.

Truly Living Ageless and Bold

The Sun City Poms’ remarkable journey stands as a testament to the power of dance, unity, and spreading joy. It proves that the spirit knows no age limit. Sherry and her teammates have embraced the idea of living ageless and bold, and they’re inspiring and helping others along their journey!

Watch Sherry’s full episode here:

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