Some Like It Hot (well, really just one), But Cool TopCats Kick It Up a Notch

TopCat Chika during the November 7th Panthers-Saints game

TopCat Chika during the November 7th Panthers-Saints game

It was a bright, sunny morning on November 7th in Charlotte. But the fans on their way to the Carolina Panthers game against the Saints had broken out some warmer garments than expected for this time of year. Unseasonably cool temperatures for this region had swept in over the weekend. So, for the TopCats, the cheerleaders for the Panthers, what is preferable, a cool, windy day like this, or a 100 degree day that might be part of the Charlotte’s late summer?

The TopCats were in locations around the stadium area pre-game to meet with fans and sign autographs from 11 am to noon. One area is the “Panther’s Lair,” which also features mascot Sir Purr, music, and entertainment. Sideline Captain Stacey’s line was there signing autographs and greeting fans. All of the TopCats here preferred these cooler temperatures over summer heat, but one hand raised up in a slow but determined fashion to voice her lone opinion; Jeri said, “I’ll take 100 degrees.” Not one of any of the the other TopCats at any of the pre-game locations preferred the heat to that days’ chill, but one could tell that Jeri wouldn’t mind tropical temperatures, even for three hours of dancing, all year long.

TopCats Jeri (left) longs for summer, while Stacey and the others welcome cooler temps

TopCats Jeri (left) longs for summer, while Stacey and the others welcome cooler temps

But her line captain Stacey’s opinion was shared by most of the squad, cool temps are preferable, but the gusts of wind that can whiz through the sidelines are less favorable.  But Stacey added, “Once you start jumping around, it is not that bad.” But all parts of the stadium are not created equally, and certainly it is better to be in the sun, to which Stacey replied, “There are a couple sides that are really cold.”

T’fani and Jocelyn also greeted fans in another location closer to the stadium.  T’fani pointed out that the cool temps and wind affects one of their tools of their sidelines trade, “When you start losing feeling in your fingers, you’ve got the problem that you can’t hold onto the poms.  At least when it’s hot, you always have them!”  I don’t think I saw one pom fumble, though, all day from T’fani or the rest of the TopCats.

T'fani and Jocelyn greet fans prior to the game

T'fani and Jocelyn greet fans prior to the game

The TopCats finished interacting with fans when it was time to head to the game.  The one thing that stood out watching the TopCats on the sidelines was their kicks. Of course, high kicks are part of all NFL cheer squads, included in many routines. But the TopCats have this knack of being on the sidelines, going along, cheering as expected, and then, BOOM, huge, upward, vertical kick out of nowhere! When later that month I watched a college game on TV, and Boise State’s field goal kicker missed two short field goals in their key loss to the University of Nevada, my first thought was, “The Broncos really need to go to Charlotte to scout the TopCats for kicking talent!” The importance of TopCats kicks was emphasized when TopCats Coordinator/Choreographer Richelle Grant said in her UC.com interview, “From a fans perspective, I feel it’s important to have visual performances on the field. This includes constant, eye catching movements and formations and high kicks are a must!” No kidding!

Dana kicks up a storm

Dana kicks up a storm

And there was some impressive high jumps as well. Forget about Air Jordan across town at the basketball owner’s suite; it’s all about Air Shelby at the Panthers games. I don’t know if the kicks and jumps were used to stay warm or not, but gravity was seemingly taking an afternoon off on the sidelines on this day.

Cool temps for Shelby? Might was well jump!

Cool temps for Shelby? Might as well jump!

On the sidelines during the game and in the Panther’s Lair during pre-game, a familiar face was supporting and accompanying the TopCats.  Record setting TopCat Shannon was in the house!  Shannon was a TopCat for over a decade, and is still on the sidelines as their assistant.  Shannon commented at the Panther’s Lair, “Eleven years cheering, and I have done this for two, so thirteen total. Thirteen, I LOVE it, I am not going anywhere!” Shannon has been part of the leadership of some other squads, including an arena team, but financial hardships of the franchises shortened their existence. But Shannon is certainly ready if other opportunities to lead dance squads arise!

Shannon's 13th year with the TopCats, in the Panther's Lair with Sir Purr

Shannon's 13th year with the TopCats, in the Panther's Lair with Sir Purr


As the game went on, it warmed up a bit, but by the fourth quarter, even my little fingers were starting to turn Panther blue.  But the TopCats endured, and excelled on the sidelines even though their Panthers took on on the chin from the Saints.  I want to big a big thank you to local correspondent Carolina Rick for giving me great information to prepare for my Carolina Panthers game!

Here are some more TopCats:

Jeri in the fourth quarter

Jeri in the fourth quarter

TopCat Erin is in her second season

TopCat Erin is in her second season

Tara C is an enforcement agent from Raleigh

Tara C is an enforcement agent from Raleigh

katie W

Katie W teaches dance

Carolyn

Carolyn is a product manager

Tara R

Tara R defies gravity as well

Myra is a graphic designer

Myra is a graphic designer

Sara

Sara is in her third season dancing for the Panthers

Dana's hairtography shot

Dana's hairtography shot

Rookie TopCat Jessica

Rookie TopCat Jessica

Courtney is a Walt Disney entertainer

Courtney is a Walt Disney entertainer

Kelli is a sixth year TopCats veteran and graduate student

Kelli is a sixth year TopCats veteran and graduate student

Melanie is a marketing director in her second TopCat season

Melanie is a marketing director in her second TopCat season

Eisha is an entrepeneur in her second TopCat season

Eiesha is an entrepreneur in her second TopCat season

TopCats still kicking up a storm

TopCats still kicking up a storm

Chika is a research analyst in her third season with the TopCats

Chika is a research analyst in her third season with the TopCats

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