Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Liberating the manatee within

Via the Christian Science Monitor: "'We're among the biggest fans in south Florida. And I mean that literally,' jokes Joseph Love, as he and his teammates make their way to an upstairs room at Shula's Athletic Club, a private gym in Miami Lakes, Fla., owned by another of the state's sporting giants, Don Shula.

"It is here that the Manatees – named after the plump marine creatures also known as sea cows – have been rehearsing twice weekly for the past five weeks to work on their routines, ready for tonight's season opener against the New York Mets at Miami's Dolphin Stadium. After that, they will perform at every home game on Friday and Saturday evenings.

"The Marlins franchise doesn't refer to them as cheerleaders, but as a 'dance/energy squad' and the first of its kind in Major League Baseball. Trim waistlines and high-kicking skills of the kind displayed by the team's more conventional cheerleaders, the Mermaids, are out. In putting together the Manatees, club officials advertised for owners of 'big bellies with the biggest jiggle.'"