CFL Cheerleaders alumni making noise, connections
It’s definitely something to cheer about.
The newly formed Canadian Football Cheerleaders Alumni Organization is making noise and connections all across the country.
“On a purely social level it’s about reconnecting with people who we literally spent hours and hours every single week with, in some cases for years,” said former Tiger-Cats cheerleader Sharon Caddy, an executive with the CFCAO.
“And we’re all CFL fans. I’ve never met a former cheerleader who isn’t an avid CFL fan. So it’s about reconnecting with other CFL fans. And it’s a chance to do some good, you know.”
The CFCAO has already partnered with the CFL Alumni Association and hope to combine their efforts on charitable causes. They are planning to have a presence at the Grey Cup in Calgary in November and will host their first convention in Hamilton sometime in 2020.
Their fledgling organization is a work, or more accurately a labour of love, in progress. It got started in Hamilton last season, when the Tiger-Cats made significant changes to the composition, uniforms, performances and duties of the cheerleading squad.
Former Hamilton cheerleaders Tiffany Beveridge and Raeanne Milovanovic were motivated to spring into action, to defend the honour and contributions of cheerleaders past and present.
“They were reaching out to local media, (saying,) ‘We do matter and we did make a contribution.’ So they started a Hamilton alumni group last year and hosted some well-attended events,” said Caddy.
During the off-season, the momentum from those efforts spawned a newsletter and a Facebook page.
By March they were incorporated as a non-profit entity and in May they formed a formal working relationship with the CFLAA.
They are seeking corporate sponsorships and new members all over the CFL map, and they need directors in a couple of current CFL cities — Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa. They ask anyone interested to apply on their website at http://www.cfcao.ca.
They would also love to connect with women who cheered on the short-lived American franchises in Baltimore, Shreveport, Memphis, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Birmingham.
There are already healthy CFCAO chapters in Montreal and Hamilton. Anyone who has been on a CFL cheer or dance team for at least one full season, including still-active members, is eligible to join the organization.
Current membership numbers in the hundreds and already spans several decades.
“I found when I was involved back in the ’80s, at that point I think we reached the height of when people considered you fluffy. Which is a terrible thing to say,” said Caddy. “We were out there in our Spandex and our boots. We were the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader-style women. But that was the style of the time.
“I really see now it’s evolved to a point where they are beautiful and they’re talented and they’re athletic and they’re a positive force on the field. I don’t think cheerleaders are perceived in any way as lightweight. I think there is a real positive feeling about having the cheerleaders on the field.”