It’s a story for the ages and it all began under the bright lights of Friday night football. It’s a classic love story of the football player and the cheerleader who became high school sweethearts. This story begins in 1959.

It’s a story for the ages and it all began under the bright lights of Friday night football. It’s a classic love story of the football player and the cheerleader who became high school sweethearts. This story begins in 1959.

Long before the turf field and athletic complex the Lakers now call home, football players would spend the first part of practice picking up rocks to ensure no one broke an ankle. And all the while, Mike and Rita Fera were falling in love.
Now, 60 years later, the couple who run M&R electronics in town may well be the oldest football player/football cheerleader alumni left.

Rita spent the entirety of her early education in Camdenton. Mike didn’t become a Laker until 6th grade when he moved from Kansas City. In high school, Mike played for the Lakers on offense and defense throughout while Rita was part of the cheerleading squad. Many Friday nights were spent at the football field with Mike on the filed and Rita on the sidelines. When high school came to an end, their love affair didn’t. Although they headed off to college together, their plans change and eventually they left school and moved to Kansas City.
Mike took an apprenticeship in stained-glass art and still does the work today. They would remain in the city for 12 years. In 1975, after Rita’s father fell ill with cancer, the two moved back to Camdenton and have remained since. 

The two say that they attend Laker football games whenever they can. It is a tradition that they aren’t quite ready to give up. The couple have seen a number of children and grandchildren attend Camdenton as well and have even had the pleasure of seeing a few play for the football team. 

“We go to most home games and away too if it’s not too far,” Mike said.

“It helps when our backs don’t hurt!” Rita said. 

Rita says it’s been amazing for them both to watch the school district and the sports teams grow year to year. She says that there were around 300 kids at the school when they attended. Through the years, they both say that the amount of support the school receives, whether it be on bond issues or attendance at events, has only continued to grow. 

Mike says life at the lake has continued to change since moving home. As members of the small business community of Camdenton for over 30 years, he says that it has been tough to watch much of the local commerce dwindle over time. Rita says this economic downturn of the town has been difficult. They both hope to see industry return in a strong way to Camdenton. 

Though it’s fun to tout the honor of being the oldest Camdenton football player and cheerleader around, the two say they would prefer to stay humble and just be proud of being a Laker in general. 

“We’re mostly proud of our marriage and being together almost 58 years,” Mike said. 

Rita says their secret to a long marriage is being faithful to each other and the church. She says that the old saying “a family that prays together stays together” has rang true for them.