“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The Brooklyn Cyclones single A minor league baseball team is having an up and down season.
Not unlike the roller coaster it’s named for.
As last place in the New York-Penn Class A Short Season League, the players could use some cheering up.
But the team’s traditional young, nubile cheerleader group has been replaced this year with the Surf Squad. And no one is more nontraditional than Susan Avery.
“We go from age 17 to 57. I’m the 57-year-old on the team,” she says.
The former newspaper reporter turned high school guidance counselor always had a love of dance, and now she’s doing it, among other things.
“We do everything we can to get the team and the fans excited at the game,” she says.
The young dancers weren’t mixing it up enough for the front office, so they went another way – fan-friendly and kind of goofy.
Not everybody likes it.
“Everybody knows sex sells,” one man told me.
The Surf Squad was a hard sell in the beginning, especially Avery. People weren’t used to a 57-year-old cheerleader, even one who had four years experience with the New York Liberty WNBA dance team.
“I’d rather not repeat the stuff they said, but it hurt. And to be honest, when I heard those things, I thought you know what maybe I shouldn’t be doing this,” she says.
She was talked out of it by the director of the program, Christina Moore.
“My advice to the negativity was: Show them how wonderful you are. Be you,” Moore says. “Be that bubbly, energetic person. Be that talkative person. And people are going to fall in love with you exactly the way that we fell in love with you.”
It took some time, but she was right about Avery and the squad.
“I think she’s great, she’s wonderful and she’s so much fun,” one woman said.
“They dance, they entertain, they get up the crowd,” a man added. “I think they’re good.”
Avery is having the time of her life now. Her advice to others thinking about doing something out of their comfort zone?
“If you have a dream and you’re in your 50s or 60s, get to it. Figure out a way to get to it and do it,” she says. “I know it’s cliché, but you really can make your dream happen.”
Be your own cheerleader.