Cheerleaders rally the fans at their retirement community


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Ann Dagani, left, Kathy Gaudet, Janet Hall, Cindy Lewandowski, Arlyne Bunin and Sybil Yocum are members of the Indian River Colony Club’s Rockets Cheer Team.

Jennifer Torres

In a community of retired U.S. military, the members of the Indian River Colony Club are proud of their patriotism.

Whether Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, everyone is part of the same team — except maybe in mid-December when the Army vs. Navy game comes on and hundreds assemble in Colony Hall. They come to watch the matchup, sporting their team’s colors, ready to cheer them on to victory. But this year’s game had an extra level of cheer — as the IRCC Rockets Cheer Team kicked off the festivities.

The team, which includes Sybil Yocum, Kathy Gaudet, Janet Hall, Ann Dagani, Arlyne Bunin, Cindy Lewandowski and Jack Garfield, is the brainchild of Gaudet. She was inspired after seeing the movie “Poms,” a 2019 movie about a woman who decided to start a cheerleading squad at her retirement community.

Gaudet asked her friend, Sybil Yocum, to help her — and she happily agreed.

Yocum spent her whole life as a cheerleader — from fifth grade though college — and even as the wife of a Navy officer in her 20s for a Navy football team.

In addition to cheer, as a young adult, Yocum was a trained belly dancer with a professional troupe. Now as a 70-something water aerobics instructor and resident of IRCC since 2012, she was excited to take on a new challenge.

“It’s funny. I was a cheerleader all my life and, when they asked me to do this, I was used to athletic girls in their 20s,’’ Yocum said. “But all these were girls in their 60s and 70s. You now have issues with arthritis, knee surgeries and back problems. But they were all gorgeous and in good shape.”

A few months prior to the Army vs. Navy game, the group met two or three times each week for a few hours of training and rehearsal — with Yocum serving as the choreographer.

When game day finally came around, Gaudet said their performance was met with enthusiastic applause and support.

“The reaction was overwhelming,” she said.

The team hopes to continue as a cheer squad in the new year — and is currently planning its next event.

“It’s a great bunch of people and it’s fun and exciting,” Yocum said. “It’s the age of elegance for those age 55 and up. We’re not dead yet, honey.”