COLUMBIA CITY –Columbia City fans came to watch a girls basketball game home opener Nov. 4 but they will most likely remember the cheerleading performance.
Betty Hilligoss, a 97-year-old Columbia City resident, cheered on the Lady Eagles alongside with the cheerleading team.
It’s been 80 years since Hilligoss last donned a cheerleading uniform. Hilligoss last cheered on the Roann High School cheerleading squad in 1937. She graduated with 14 other classmates that year. The Roann school was defunct in 1962, and was consolidated into Northfield High School in Wabash.
Recently, Hilligoss was hoping to get back on the court and cheer on her favorite teams. So, she went to the girls head coach, Amy Shearer to ask if she could cheer on her team in uniform.
“I went up to her (Shearer) and said that I’d like to go out there and do one cheer. They said, ‘You can do that, dear.’ I just wanted to do it one more time,” said Hilligoss.
Hilligoss had been cheering on the Columbia City basketball teams for many years, and rarely missing a game. The basketball and cheerleading coaches were more than willing to give her the opportunity to join the cheer squad for a full game.
“They had a uniform for me,” said Hilligoss. “I went out there, clapped my hands and waved a banner. I enjoyed sitting down with the girls during the game, and I went out on the court and waved the banner with all the cheerleaders during the timeouts.”
Although Hilligoss used her walker for support on the court, the moments of cheering brought her back to 1937.
“I felt young again. But I did tell them I wasn’t going to flip around or do cartwheels,” said Hilligoss. “Cheerleading was my favorite activity back in my day. I used to do cartwheels and all that kind of stuff. That was many years ago.”
Hilligoss will remember the night that made her feel young again.
“I felt quite honored,” said Hilligoss. “The school had a dedication certificate for me, and it was all worth it. I sure did enjoy it.”