Louise Gooche may be in her golden years, but she’s got more spirit now than ever before.
The 77-year-old is a senior Durham Divas cheerleader.
“We’re not the Dallas Cowgirls, but we can still move,” she told In The Know.
Gooche said that she joined the cheerleading squad to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
She was working as an instructor and a program director for a community college’s nursing program until she was confronted by a student.
“She said, ‘You taught my grandmother,’ and I did,” Gooche explained. “I taught her grandmother, I taught her mother and her. And I told her, ‘As soon as I finish with you, I am out of here.'”
When she retired, she finally had time to try things she’d never done before.
“I have always wanted to be a cheerleader, but I didn’t have the money to do extracurricular activities like that so I sort of put it on the back burner until I retired,” she told In The Know.
One day, Gooche hung a sign-up sheet in the hallway of her local YMCA to garner interest in a senior cheerleading squad. She said nine ladies signed up immediately.
People started gathering to watch the squad practice, and they gained more and more attention.
“I’m thinking, ‘Uh oh, this might be going somewhere,’ and it did,” Gooche said.
She explained that one of her fellow cheerleaders came up with the name “Durham Divas.”
“We’re good and we’re cute — we’re divas,” she said. “So that’s how that name came about.”
Britney Johnson, the site director at Gooche’s local YMCA, said the squad is overflowing with “joy and positivity.”
“They are constantly active and they’re growing their group. I think it’s phenomenal,” she told In The Know. “It’s very inspirational when it comes to health and wellness.”
Gooche said that her mission as a cheerleader is to exude enthusiasm, happiness and comfort.
“We try to give hope to everyone,” she continued. “You don’t have to sit at home in a rocking chair … you’ll rock yourself to death. We rock our bodies.”
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