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Raleigh Native Does Her Part To Help Ensure Super Bowl Excitement

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HOUSTON, TEXAS — The Super Bowl halftime show often can be more entertaining than the game for a lot of people.

A woman who grew up in Raleigh and lives in Houston has an important role in making sure this year's halftime show goes well.

Alto Gary, cheerleading coordinator for the Houston Texans,

is used to the spotlight and Sunday performances. But this Sunday will be different.

"When I heard the Super Bowl was coming to Houston, I said: 'Oh, this is going to be fantastic,'" Gary said. "Once in a lifetime, I'm actually where I'm supposed to be.'"

Gary has hit the bigtime after getting her start at Raleigh's Enloe High School in the 1980s.

"I started out in dance," Gary said. "In my 10th-grade year, there was this pep rally, and I did this dance, and I was like: 'I must be a cheerleader.' And that was it.

"I had no idea it would be a career because I got cut from my middle-school's dance team. I was cut! It was like: 'Keep trying, because you'll make it eventually.'"

After leaving Enloe, Gary cheered at East Carolina University.

Before becoming cheerleading coordinator for the Texans -- who just finished their second season as an NFL team -- Gary coached and choreographed numerous professional dance teams, including the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team, the Charlotte Hornets HoneyBees and World Championship Wrestling's NitroGirls.

She said she still misses North Carolina.

"I do miss it," she said. "Nice people. I miss the barbecue.

"This Texas barbecue, I turn my nose up at it."

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