Since their group treasurer Susan Loberto was arrested for check fraud, the Oaklyn Cats cheerleaders face an uphill battle rebuilding their 2012 season.
But according to a source close to the club who declined to be identified for this story, it won’t be the first time the group has had to do so.
When the recreational cheerleading group separated from the Oaklyn Cougars cheerleaders about five years ago, “it was like starting all over again," the source said.
"They’ve gone through it before and they’ll go forward from here.”
Cats cheerleaders range from as young as four all the way up through seniors in high school. Their dedication to the sisterhood of the group and the challenges of the sport gives the children a sense of pride that keeps them coming back.
And it’s that pride and sense of belonging that will help the Cats weather the storm, because forgiveness might be in short supply for their disgraced treasurer.
Executive board positions with the Cats are volunteer appointments, which lends to the sense of betrayal among the group. According to the source, feelings are “mixed” about whether Loberto, 50, was the victim of a scam or an accomplice who ought to have known better.
“I think it’s either one of two things,” the source said. “That word ‘love’ that we saw from CBS. Does she need love that bad? She’s young enough that you don’t answer e-mails from Ghana and that stuff.”
What is of most concern is the fact that Loberto is also a parent whose daughter is a member of the group, and the Cats are concerned for her at this time, too.
“There’s just a great camaraderie among them,” the source said.
The long hours of fundraising undertaken by the Cats and their boosters illustrate the dedication it takes to operate the group. Selling big boxes of candy bars, standing outside of pharmacies and in traffic with collection buckets, knocking on doors in three towns.
All that cash they raised in those long hours to offset the costs of uniforms, sneakers and out-of-state trips to tournament competitions—all gone.
The trips are supposedly still a go in 2012, according to a statement from the Cats leadership. Whether they will be paid for by some mysterious benefactor, an ambitious fundraiser, or deep-digging parents and grandparents is yet unclear.
“We’re basically waiting to hear from them [how it will work],” the source said.
In the meantime, Cats parents still carpool their squads to pay-to-practice centers throughout the county. An interim treasurer has been named to the group.