Pantherettes are ready to cheer all the way to a four-peat

Your 2024 Penrith Pantherettes. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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What’s been a huge three years for the Penrith Panthers has also been momentous for the Pantherettes, who have been on the sidelines every step of the way.

According to veteran Pantherette Abby Bennett, the atmosphere at Grand Finals is different every year.

“Some years you go in feeling a little bit confident, and then other years you’re really nervous but excited for it to be a tough game,” she said.

“The last Grand Final, we were beside ourselves when Nathan got over the try line. We were just bawling our eyes out!”

23-year-old Bennett is going into her seventh season this year, and can’t wait for it all to begin.

“We have a busy start to the season with two home games in a row, so we’re already prepping those routines even though it is still a few weeks away,” she said.

“I just can’t wait for the first game, it’ll be great!”

Your 2024 Penrith Pantherettes. Photo: Melinda Jane.

In the 2024 Pantherettes squad is a mix of veterans and rookies after an incredible audition held in December last year – over a month earlier than usual.

“The calibre of women that came through was just amazing. Every year it ramps up, and the quality and quantity is always that little bit harder, but the auditions for the 2024 squad was definitely one of the toughest, most talented, and most incredible ones I’ve witnessed,” choreographer Kati Watson said.

18-year-old Olivia Johnston is one of this year’s new recruits, recalling the moment she found out she’d be joining a squad that is steeped in history.

“It was really cool that my name was on top, because I just got to see them lift up my headshot, and I was like, ‘Yes, I got it!’,” she said.

Johnston was inspired by a former dance teacher, who was also an NRL cheerleader, to give the audition a go.

“After I got accepted into Brent Street and decided not to pursue that, I thought that being a Pantherette was another good way for me to continue dancing weekly, and have opportunities to perform on a regular basis,” she said.

Your 2024 Penrith Pantherettes. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Though she admits the first few weeks of pre-season training have been challenging, spending upwards of an hour rehearsing outside of class each week, Johnston said her teammates couldn’t be more supportive.

“It is about girlhood, and it is about supporting each other,” she said.

“I am just really excited to flip out of that tunnel for the first time!”

Watson said that 2024 is set to be a big year for the Pantherettes, with all new choreography and more.

“You can expect fresh new choreography, a couple of fresh new faces, and some new little things on game day as well,” she said.

And all agreed that 2024 will be a big year for the Panthers as well, with a four-peat imminent.

“I think it will be tough, but every year is tough,” Watson said.

“I really do believe that the Panthers can do it again and go for four in a row, and I really hope the girls can be there to experience it.”

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