The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders made an appearance at the Washington Auto Show on January 27. Enjoy the photos.
The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders made an appearance at the Washington Auto Show on January 27. Enjoy the photos.
NJ.comKevin Shea | For
January 31, 2016
TRENTON — When the dance team at Trenton Catholic Academy turned into the cheerleading squad several years ago, Siobhan Campbell was named one of its leaders.
But the teenager, who had been training as a dancer for years, was too intimidated to be called a cheerleader, and quit the squad.
She later tried out for the dance teams at two colleges she attended, but did not make the cut. It looked she would never don a cheer uniform again, she said.
With a lift from God, the Trenton native says, she’s now a three-year veteran of the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders – the TopCats – and will be cheering at Super Bowl 50 next Sunday in California.
And she’s one of the captains.
“I give all the glory to God. He did all of this,” she said.
She is now Siobhan Campbell-Martin, a newlywed, and says persistence and some dance training in New York also played a role in her ascent to the TopCats squad.
The 25-year-old was even named cheerleader of the week in Sports Illustrated in 2014.
She has a message to anyone growing up in the city: “I am proud to say that I am from Trenton. Look at me now.”
NFL cheerleaders do not normally travel to away games, so Campbell-Martin said the Super Bowl is extra special to her squad because they will get to meet and cheer alongside the Denver Broncos cheerleaders.
And then there’s the halftime show. “I am a huge Beyoncé fan,” she said.
Although the TopCats will not be performing at the halftime show – which also includes Coldplay and Bruno Mars – Campbell-Martin said she will be watching up close.
Campbell-Martin said her route to cheering professionally started as a kid at the Hammond-Phelps Centre For Dance on Maple Avenue.
“That was where my love of dance was established,” she said.
She also played basketball, West Ward baseball and even shot a few rounds with the Trenton Junior Golf program.
“But I pretty much stuck with dance,” she said.
When she quit the high school squad, she remembers her coach Cassidy Manning’s words: “She told me she believed in me and I never forgot that.”
College brought her to the Carolinas, first to Winston-Salem State University, then Appalachian State University.
“I kind of felt like I was running from dance,” she said of her time at Winston-Salem.
She had an undeclared major and was trying new things to pursue. God was humbling her, she said.
Needing a new start, she transferred to Appalachian. She still did not make their dance team, but she majored in dance and minored in business, and the summer before her senior year, she returned to Trenton.
That summer, Campbell-Martin enrolled in a dance program in New York City and felt back on track.
“That is pretty much where it started again,” she said. She got come callbacks for dancing, including one from Disney.
“But the one thing I didn’t see coming was cheerleading for the Panthers,” she said.
She took a class at college, though, taught by a TopCats coach, where she earned a first round bye to the tryouts.
“She saw something in me that I didn’t see,” Campbell-Martin said. “I knew from there I would keep accelerating, keep moving forward and go with it.”
“And now I am in my third year, I am now a captain and we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
Off the field, she’s works as a project coordinator at Genera Solutions in Charlotte. Her parents still live in Trenton, as do her siblings, she said.
She sees herself as a role model to anyone like her growing up in the city. “I just want encourage people in Trenton, wherever they are in their development, to keep at it.”
The Pro Bowl sidelines will feature Alexis, the last St. Louis Rams Cheerleader to participate for the all-star game for the foreseeable future (one can never say never about a move back to St. Louis, right?).
And speaking of the Pro Bowl, the poor game is taking its knocks, and who knows how long it will continue. But the talented, hard working cheerleaders of the NFL need to continue to reward one of their own per squad to a sweet post-season reward. So cheer fans, if the Pro Bowl was discontinued, what would be a worthy reward for the best of the best NFL cheerleaders? Being part of Super Bowl festivities, assisting with the NFL Honors and other shows that week, and then culminating with dancing on-stage with the halftime performers? Any other ideas?
Here are some photos of Alexis at the last St. Louis Rams home game. Cheers to you and all former and current St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders!
More photos of Alexis are at this link.
Click here to check out Kayla’s gallery on Sports Illustrated!
By JIMMIE TRAMEL
January 28, 2016
GLENPOOL — In winning the title of Miss Oklahoma USA, Taylor Gorton earned a crown, a sash and a platform that allows her to reach many people — maybe even the Hanson brothers?
In 2010, when Gorton was a National American Miss Teen, she told an interviewer her favorite childhood memory was attending a Hanson concert in Tulsa. It was her first concert. Her mother, Starla, found a way to finagle tickets to a sold-out show.
“I literally thought my mom may have either worked for Santa or was a miracle worker of some sort,” Gorton recalled.
Maybe Gorton’s new title will give her the necessary clout to be introduced to the boys in the band.
Would she like to meet them? Absolutely.
“I’m pretty tone deaf,” she said. “But if they did need like, a backup singer. … I mean, this is a shameless plug that I am doing right now, but if they need a backup singer, I could do some backup dancing. We could go on tour, and it would be a huge hit. I would wear my crown!”
Of course she would because she’s a character.
Gorton ventured to a fire station in Glenpool (her father, Tom, works there) for a photo shoot, flexed her personality and seemed to immediately take command of a room where folks were hanging out between emergencies.
She briefly swapped her Miss Oklahoma USA crown for a fireman’s hat. It’s possible that the crown may have wound up on the heads of firemen.
She hung out with the fellows and took questions about things like when the 2016 Miss USA Pageant (won last year by Oklahoma’s Olivia Jordan) will take place. Stay tuned.
She said her fiance got a little intimidated when he met all the huge-and-buff firemen who double as her “second” dads. Supposedly, they used to scare away boys who were interested in her.
She joked with the Glenpool firemen that she could sign them up for “The Bachelor” TV show, to which one responded, “My wife might be a little miffed about that one.”
Growing up around all that testosterone paid dividends. Gorton is a former in-house reporter for the St. Louis Rams and the locker-room-full-of-guys environment was old hat. She’s also a former St. Louis Rams cheerleader and a past and present lover of scavenger hunts.
“I’m a firm believer in spontaneity and adventure,” she said. “And you know what? When you live in Glenpool, Oklahoma, sometimes you have to make your own adventure, and scavenger hunts were one of those ways. I still hold true to my roots, and I still do those.”
Sample scavenger hunt item: Go to Wal-Mart and find an employee with a “Dave” nametag. Take a picture with Dave, and you’re good to go.
Gorton said she sent her fiance on a scavenger hunt during a trip to Los Angeles. If he had balked, that would have been a bad sign, right?
“It’s funny that you asked that because my dad once said, ‘I never thought we would meet somebody that is the male version of you,’ and it happens to be my fiance. So we are very quirky, spontaneous, and we live in that world together, so I knew he would be just fine with the scavenger hunt.”
Growing up in Glenpool
The new Miss Oklahoma USA claims she never had a chance to rebel while growing up in Glenpool.
If something happened at school (not that she would ever get in trouble for, you know, being too chatty), Mom probably knew about it before school was out because news circulates quickly in a small town. Plus, Mom co-owns a hair salon, which, true to stereotype, can be a communication center. Gorton said she loves her mom’s “gossip squad.” It’s a term of endearment. Gorton said the females who worked at the salon were role models who showed her a thing or two about work ethic.
Gorton’s footwork was good enough to make her a school record-holder in the 400 and an annual participant in the state high school track and field meet. She also was a cheerleader and a wrestling “mat maid,” which she compared to being a manager.
“There weren’t too many of those girls that wanted to be mat maids because here you are in a smelly room watching wrestlers for one hour a day, every day,” Gorton said. “But I found it really great, and I think that’s just sort of been embedded in me, sort of that sports mentality, competitive mentality.”
Gorton said she was going to run in college, but she instead focused on academics at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri.
Schoolwork came fairly easy. She got a little bored. So, what else could she do?
An NFL franchise was in the vicinity, so she tried out for the cheerleading squad. She was a Rams cheerleader during her sophomore and junior years at Lindenwood. Among perks: She flew to Hong Kong to participate in a parade, and she twice visited London. During an interview while in London, she talked about the many things she loved in England, but the only segment of the interview that aired was a clip in which she talked about how she couldn’t get enough of the porridge.
More than meets the eye
A journalism major with an emphasis on sports broadcasting, Gorton is comfortable being the person who asks or answers the questions.
At one point in her life, Gorton wanted to be Katie Couric, Version 2.0. She took a year off from the Rams and moved to New York for six months to intern for a CBS vice president. While there, she said veteran journalist Bob Schieffer looked her dead in the eye and asked if she was ready to miss time with her kids to do this.
Gorton was only 22 at the time and she was thinking about a career, not a family. But his words opened her eyes to the sacrifices you have to make to be at that level. She said she’s all about sacrifice. But she would prefer to make those sacrifices in sports journalism, where at least there are off seasons and you can perhaps take your kids to school and go to their soccer games.
Gorton returned from New York and became an in-house reporter for the Rams while also handling marketing and branding chores.
Now 24, she said there is more to her than meets the eye. For instance, on a second date with her fiance, she wanted to go fishing.
“And this was because I wanted to show off that, back in the day. … at church camp, I beat (guys) at fishing,” she said. “I had 61 perch in one day.”
Gorton said she likes to plop down and watch football. While in the presence of her future father-in-law, she was watching a game and called out man-to-man coverage. She said he gave her a look like, “Who is this alien in my living room?”
Pageant girl pride
Sometimes there’s a stigma that comes with a “pageant girl” label. Gorton is a former National American Miss Junior Teen, a former Miss Oklahoma Teen and a former National American Miss Teen. She carries the “pageant girl” tag with pride.
“But at the same time, I want people to know that I’m not one-dimensional, and I’m not just a pageant girl who wants to be looked at as pretty. I think that you can have a beautiful mind and that makes you beautiful, rather than just a pretty face. I think, ultimately, I want to show that we are of substance.”
Gorton, who feels it is important for females to encourage one another, described herself as a “girl power” female. If a recent publicity session is an accurate indicator, she enjoys powering up and generating buzz.
Gorton posed for photos at Glenpool Conference Center and tested her British accent on a British photographer. The shoot continued at a fire station, where she climbed into the cab of a fire truck. She rolled down a window, picked up the vehicle’s communication device and, pretending to talk into it, said, “All right boys, I’ve got a breaker, breaker 1-9.”
A bit later, she was told the photo shoot is over, unless she wants to ham it up.
“You guys don’t get it,” she said. “I’ll ham it up. I love this job. What’s not to like?”
Bonus Q-and-A with Miss Oklahoma USA Taylor Gorton of Glenpool
What did you learn about being an NFL cheerleader that you didn’t know until you did it?
The word “cheerleader” as a whole is very misleading. It is such a dance team and it was really a Christmas miracle that I made it because I had no prior dance training. Also, I understand that a lot of people think that they are underpaid or that we were underpaid. To be honest, the pay isn’t that of an NFL football player. However, I truly went into it expecting nothing and feeling entitled to nothing, and I came out with the most incredible experiences (including visiting foreign countries).
You can’t buy that kind of exposure, right?
Whatever the pay was, nothing would have accumulated to the experiences that I actually gained. I think that’s what people don’t know is it allows you to have invaluable experiences, not just with a crop top and a mini skirt, but experiences which carry you through talking like this or anything that you are going to do in your life.
You created your own company?
It’s called Pink Door productions. We don’t have a website. It has been all word-of-mouth. I haven’t had a chance to get a website up because I have 40 clients in six states now. It’s female-oriented communications. Another thing I learned at CBS is females, because the VP I worked under was the first female VP, I worked specifically for her as her intern, and I can’t begin to tell you how telling that was as far as corporate America and the perception of a powerful female and just the psychology behind that. I saw a huge need and necessity to kind of bridge that gap. … I’m going to start working with some of the NFL cheerleaders for on-camera purposes. … And then I’m also working with pageant girls because I think there is a huge stereotype there of maybe a lack of substance or whatever the case may be.
Is there anything about you that is uniquely Glenpool?
When I lived in New York, I was told, “Lose the Oklahoma.” And I looked at the VP of CBS and I said, “I can’t.” It’s so deeply embedded in me, and what’s great about that is I am steadfast whether it be in wanting to find Dave at Wal-Mart (while scavenger hunting) or that interpersonal connection and that human-to-human contact, I think Glenpool is great at that. Glenpool is a small community that is invested in each other, and I think I’m very much invested in whoever is around me and I learned that from growing up here.
16 ladies were selected to this year’s squad, including seven veterans and nine newbies. Click here to read the release and see bigger photos of the ladies who made the cut. Congrats!
Many thanks to our friend Polly for these first pics of the 2016 Pro Bowl Cheerleaders in Hawaii. (Apologies to all who those buried up to your eyeballs in snow right now. This is probably rubbing salt in the wound.)
The Minnesota Vikings have posted their top 100 Cheerleader photos from the 2015-16 NFL season. Click here to check out their season highlights!
Megan Savage-Reser, Director of the Denver Outlaws Dancers of Major League Lacrosse lets us know that their Auditions and Audition Workshops are coming up!
The Chicago Blitz, a proud member of the American Indoor Football League, will be looking for members for their professional dance team. Jenny Hinz, the Director of the Chicago Blitz Girlz informs us of their upcoming prep class, and additional information is below:
Saturday March 5, 2016 @ 3:30pm Location: Woodland Community Center Park 212 Parkview St. Houston TX 77009
Code Red is an energetic dance squad that ignites the crowd at any event with elements of street jazz, two-step, Funk,hip hop dance, and gymnastics. The talented men and women of Code Red Cheer & Dance Team work hard to keep the crowd pumped up and to make sure you feel the action and excitement of the game at your seat to give the team that extra “push” during key on-Field action.
* Open auditions are closed to the public, family, and friends
* This round will consists of a series of 2-3 eliminations that will include, freestyle, stylized choreography and Mix choreography
* Finalists will be chosen and announced at the end of the day
* We recommend that you bring snacks, water and any items to freshen up between rounds
* Candidates will be judged on appearance, dance ability, style, strength and completion of choreography, energy, projection and potential
* Must be 17 years or older and (valid photo I.D. required)
What to wear: Wear what you look the best in at all times!
What we’re looking for:
Houston Energy Football
By Amanda Thames
Two Jacksonville natives will be among the many cheering for the Carolina Panthers this weekend — the difference is they’ll be on the field.
The two were both dancers and cheerleaders from a young age, and the first time the two girls remember spending time together was at a friend’s house where their families were watching a Panthers game.
Their families still watch the games, but now they’re in the stands and pay more attention to the cheerleaders than the football team.
Both girls are enjoying their first year as TopCats during one of the Panthers’ best seasons in the team’s history. The football players are hosting the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals today, and the TopCats will perform during halftime.
Annalise’s mother Vanessa Coleman said she asked about Sunday’s game in hopes of learning more about a possible Panthers Super Bowl game, but her daugher wouldn’t talk.
“They don’t want to jinx it,” Vanessa said, laughing. “They just want to get out there and win.”
Vanessa will be wearing her lucky Panthers earrings and socks at today’s game.
Out of the 28 on the squad, Annalise and Aliscia share Jacksonville roots and are in the same group of six on the sidelines that cheer together every game.
Aliscia graduated from Northside High School in 2010 where she was captain of the cheerleading squad. She started cheering at the age of 5, according to her mother Valerie Taplin, and her mom immediately saw that cheering would be a part of her future.
“Her hands were straight. She stood out from the other girls,” Valerie said. “That’s when I knew.”
Aliscia was known as a “silent leader,” Valerie said. “Others looked to her as an example because she was a good cheerleader.”
Vanessa said Annalise also showed early talent.
“Her preschool teacher rated her ‘Gifted in Rhythm’ at 4 years old,” she said.
Annalise has a long history of dancing, including ballet, pointe, jazz and modern dance. Vanessa Coleman has more than 170 of her daughter’s trophies in her home. Dancing is her passion, Vanessa said, and she’d wanted to be a TopCat for years.
“We went to a Panthers game when Annalise was 17. She watched the cheerleaders and she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to do this,’” Vanessa said.
It wasn’t a straight shot to the Panthers’ field for either girl, though.
Aliscia originally planned to join the U.S. Air Force. She was set to leave on a Tuesday but the Sunday before, she changed her mind. Aliscia told her mother she wanted to be a TopCat. Valerie said some people take rejection and settle for another, easier-to-achieve goal, but not her daughter.
“It really inspires me because she believed in her dream even when things weren’t going her way,” Valerie said.
Aliscia told Annalise she was trying out for the squad again and shared tips with her friend about the auditioning process. Annalise was teaching at a dance studio and double majoring in public health education and dance at UNC-Greensboro, and decided to join Aliscia and try out for the 2015 squad.
Richelle Williams, the TopCats manager and choreographer, said she’s had a great season with Aliscia and Annalise on the squad.
“When you speak with them, when you watch them perform, it’s hard to say to yourself, ‘They’re rookies,’ because the learning curve was not that big for them,” Williams said.
Now both girls practice three hours once per week and another three hours the day before each game, getting ready to pump up the crowd at the Panthers’ games.
“They’re quiet, they come in and learn and they get the job done,” Williams said. “I appreciate that.”
To prepare for games, Aliscia focuses on her plate. At the beginning of the season, Aliscia researched the best foods for energy and what foods would keep her body in the best shape. She also said prayer has been the most consistent thing she’s done throughout the season.
“The reason I’m dancing is because of God,” Aliscia said, adding that it was a spiritual feeling to be out on the field.
Quiet by nature, Aliscia said she shows more personality when she’s cheering for thousands than she shows in one-on-one conversations.
“When I’m out in front of the crowd and dancing it’s a certain type of freedom,” Aliscia said. “It’s the rush and the excitement of it.”
The cheerleaders sign contracts for the season, and Vanessa said the contracts state they are not allowed to mingle with the football players. Annalise has had a couple of close-up encounters, though.
During one play, Luke Kuechly was running straight for her and Annalise told Vanessa later, “Mom, he was so big!” Vanessa said, laughing.
The girls do appearances and sign autographs as part of the squad, representing the Panthers organization. Aliscia said her favorite event was celebrating with fans as the 50-foot Christmas tree was lit up outside the Panthers stadium. It was a family event, and Aliscia is all about family. Her mother is one of her biggest supporters.
“I’m not really a football fan,” Valerie said, laughing, “but this year I would definitely call myself a Panthers fan. It’s all about those cheerleaders.”
Each year, veteran cheerleader or newcomer, the girls have to re-tryout for the TopCats squad. Aliscia said she’ll be there and hopes to be back on the field for the 2016 season.
“I just want to dance for as long as my body will let me,” Aliscia said.
For any local dancers and cheerleaders interested in trying out for the TopCats, Williams said to attend the TopCats Audition Clinic. The clinic gives an inside look at what it takes to be a TopCat and helps girls choose whether it’s a good fit for them.
The clinic will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 5 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The cost is $185 and open to girls age 21 and older.
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