Just the mention of cheerleaders immediately bring into most people’s mind a picture of young, energetic and sexy girls. But a 42-year-old woman is on track to change that picture.
Meet Laura Vikmanis, the oldest cheerleader in the NFL.
Laura Vikmanis is almost 20 years older than most of her teammates on the Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleading squad, the Ben-Gals.
The Springboro, Ohio mother of two hopes she can inspire her daughters, Lila, 14, and Alexa, 12, to make their dreams come true no matter their age.
“I look at myself as a role model for my children to show them no matter what age or dream you have, you can work really hard and achieve it,” said Vikmanis.
Both of her daughters are competitive cheerleaders – and both think their mother’s new job is ‘really cool’.
Vikmanis’ self-respect inspires her peers, her enthusiasm brings fans to their feet – and yes, most women would kill to have her body.
In fact, as she laughingly points out, she is also older than most of the players – but not the coach.
‘He’s a little older than me,’ Laura confessed with a cheeky grin.
Laura earned her Bachelors in Dietetics and Food Administration from Cal State, Long Beach and works full-time as a dietician and personal trainer. She lives just blocks away from the Coffman YMCA in Springboro, where the state-of-the-art health and wellness center, two full size gymnasiums, and 75’ indoor pool offers plenty of support for staying in top shape.
The mother-of-two was approaching her 40th birthday in 2008 when she realised she was feeling lost.
As a registered dietician she had always been in to fitness – but motherhood and her busy schedule had taken their toll on her health and weight.
A few years back, Vikmanis attended a Cincinnati Bengals game and was mesmerized by the cheerleaders who adorned the sideline. She decided to try out for the squad when she was 39 even though she was intimidated as she was 20 years older than most of the young girls she was competing against. Though she made it all the way through to the try-out finals, she came up a bit short and didn’t make the squad.
However she was not going to give up on her dreams. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number: Laura said she had been ready for something new – and when she was rejected for the team on her first try, it only made her more determined
The next year she “buckled down and focused on her fitness” like never before. She showed back up at the Ben-Gals tryouts and for Vikmanis, the second time was a charm. She made the squad and the rest is history.
Vikmanis, who once saw her age as a detriment, now sees it as an advantage. She’s served as an inspiration for women who see her defying that age.
At the very least, she has inspired her teammates. “It really doesn’t seem like she’s older than me,” Ben-Gals captain Tara Wilson, says. “Her commitment to fitness, the self-respect she has, it’s really been a great role model for us.”