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5 Star Story: What it takes to be on the Memphis Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas dance team

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 12:14 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We’re all feeling a sense of pride in our Memphis Grizzlies amid the Playoff season but there’s a group of Grizzlies fans who are not only the team’s greatest supporters but also fan favorites in their own right!

The Memphis Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas can really get the crowd going at home games.

In this 5 Star Story, Kym Clark attended practice to show us while there may be snow on the roof those fabulous over 50 entertainers definitely have fire in the chimney and on the court!

The hype is real during a Memphis Grizzlies’ home game, and these feisty Grizz Grannies and Grandpas, or GGG as they call themselves, never disappoint.

And if you think it’s nothing more than a novelty, go to one of their two-hour-long practices and just try to keep up. We can attest.

Opal Smith has been with the dance team since its beginnings in 2005.

“And we’re like a family. We may have seen each other yesterday and then we see each other again today,” said Smith.”It’s just like we’re hugging each other because we just love each other. We’re just excited to be together.”

Although Saralyn Weiss is a rookie this season, at 78 nearly 79, she’s the senior member on the team.

“And we come out the crowd just embraces us and when we go off court everybody we pass gives us a high five including Ja’s father,” Weiss laughed. “And I’m hoping that my body will hold up and I can try out next year because you do have to try out every year.”

Grizz Grandpa Arnest Martin has been a GGG since 2016 after trying out for the team on a dare.

“So it’s a life-changing...you get to meet so many people from different walks of life, all demographics of Memphis,” said Martin. “It’s the best representation of Memphis the city has cause we come from everywhere. Young, old, Black, white, yellow, green, gold, a CEO...you name it. From the top to the bottom yeah.”

Terran Noir Gary manages all of the Grizzlies dance teams, The Blue Bunch and Grizz Girls included, and shared now the grannies and grandpas are chosen.

“Honestly, for Grannies and Grandpa’s we have the largest turnout of all our dance teams,” said Gary. “We have positions for dancers who really are going to get the choreography and do it correctly and then we have positions for people who are going to be adorably cute messing up and as long as they know their spot, it works.”

The idea is to keep the team to 30 members but the key is to have fun!

“So, it’s not so hard picking people,” said Gary. “The hardest part is turning people away.”

She also believes the most important things to know about this team are twofold.

“The first thing is that they are the biggest fans you’re not going to out fan anyone of them and that’s not a requirement it just comes with it,” said Gary. “I think the endearment that naturally comes with being a grandparent -- I think that that they express that with me, they spread that with the Grizz Girls, they express that with the staff and they most definitely stress that with the team.”

“And the second thing that people really need to know is if they really are dancing like it’s entertaining and you think they’re really not doing that much but, every audition we find out that people don’t really realize how they’re really dancing and how much energy they really exert.”

This is the third season for Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas to be paid an hourly rate per game and promotional appearances. But we’d wager all of them would enthusiastically continue to be Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas without pay.

If you’re 50 or older and think you’ve got the right stuff to be a Grizzlies Grannie or Grandpa, auditions will be held in August.

Click HERE for more information about auditions.

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