NFL Week #1- Carolina TopCats

Carolina Correspondent Rick reports:

Another day at the Panthers Stadium brought another disappointing loss.  At least the TopCats were on hand to keep it interesting.  The ladies were back at the Catwalk this week where I got to show off my best TopCats pose with Erin, Dana, and Shelby.  They were also at their usual spot at the Panthers Lair.  The Panthers aren’t home again until October 11th, so maybe by then they can get this thing figured out.

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Anaya, Carolyn, Michelle

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Anaya, Carolyn, Michelle, Megan, Stacey

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Lisa, T’Fani, Kimberly

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Erin, Dana, Shelby with Rick

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Erin, Dana, Shelby

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Megan & Stacey

[Carolina TopCats]

NFL Pre-Season Week #4 – Carolina TopCats

Rick reports from Charlotte:

The NFL Preseason is (thankfully) over. The Panthers went 0-4, but the TopCats were as great as ever. I caught up with them at the Panthers Lair signing autographs and showing off one of their routines. Former TopCat great Shannon was helping out with the squad. Then I found them over at the Luxury Suite entrance and again over at the Kid’s Combine. Hopefully this Sunday, the TopCats will be able to cheer the Panthers on to a victory (finally).

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Megan, Stacey, Michelle, Anaya and Carolyn

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Chelsea

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Jennifer and Shelby

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Kayla, Kristn, Leslie and Erin

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Kelli, Caiti and Cynthia

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Jeri, Sarah and Chelsea

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Chelsea

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Autograph signing. Former TopCat Shannon, who was assisting is off to the right.

[Carolina TopCats]

Carolina Topcats at Panthers Fanfest

The latest from Carolina Correspondent Rick:

Saturday was the Panther’s annual Fanfest at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers had all five Topcats squads outside the stadium meeting fans, signing autographs and having their pictures taken. Megan and Stacey also helped hand out awards for the 5K race that morning. I participated in the 5K, but wasn’t quite good enough to get an award (though I finished 37th out of 1,275 people!) Stacey may be the first cheerleader to pull off the Charlotte Trifecta. She has been a member of the Checkmates, Ladycats and now the Topcats!

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Stacey

There are again lots of rookies on this year’s squad, which I’m sure attests to the ulta-competitive nature of the auditions. I also spoke with Tara about her two week trip to Hawaii earlier this year as the TopCats probowl representative. She said it was an amazing experience. Everyone is excited about another year of TopCats cheering and even some Panthers football as well.

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Tara, DeAnna, Katie

Continue reading “Carolina Topcats at Panthers Fanfest”

Carolina TopCats at Panthers Party ’09

The latest from our Carolina Correspondent Rick:

Football season is officially here!  On Monday I got my Panthers season tickets in the mail and then headed down to Spartanburg, SC for the first day of Panther’s Training Camp.  My boys and I enjoyed the festivities at Panthers Party ’09 as we got autographs from some of the 2009 Topcats and watched them perform a couple of dance routines.   We watched some of the practice and saw the live panther (which I think the kids enjoyed the most).  Can’t wait for the season to start!

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Lisa, Kelli, Dana, Chika with Rick’s son Ransom

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Dana and Chika

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Lisa and Kelli

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[Carolina TopCats]

Friday Round Up

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Former Eagles Cheerleader Maria (seen here with her friend Derek) has landed a job dancing for Celebrity Cruises. She starts next month. Her ship will be traveling the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

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The San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush have completely redesigned their website with tons of new photos and video. Check it out here.

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Former Eagles Cheerleader Alaina (left, seen here with former Eagles Cheerleader Kristie) is due to give birth on September 2nd. Congrats, Alaina!

brittanypanthersMiami Dolphins Cheerleader and Florida Panthers Ice Dancer Brittany Freeman is Miss Miami Gardens and competes in the Miss Florida USA pageant this weekend.

New (at least to us) on Twitter:

Milwaukee Bucks Energee!

Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers

Phoenix Suns Dancers

Orlando Magic Dancers

Houston Rockets Power Dancers

Video:

Preview of the new AVP Dancers

Team-building, TopCats style

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Andrew Mason
Carolina Panthers
May 25, 2009

CHARLOTTE — They don’t wear shoulder pads and helmets, and their uniforms are more likely to have sequins than numbers. Yet finding the right chemistry among its members is as important among the Panthers’ cheerleading squad as it is for the team itself.

So when TopCats manager Tina Becker and choreographer Richelle Grant began whittling down the 175 aspiring cheerleaders to the final squad of 27 over the last two months, they devoted at least as much focus to creating a seamless unit as to evaluating the precision of dance steps. Through interviews, rehearsals and simple observations, they watched and listened to the potential TopCats, trying to not only select the best women for the job, but to create the best team.

“The 35 (finalists) we have at the end, they’re all talented,” Becker said. “It’s often a question of whether this girl can get along with that girl. It’s a puzzle. They all can dance, they all can cheer; they all love the Panthers. That’s why they’re (among the finalists). Then it’s deciding who’s going to be the best group of women to represent us and all be on the same page.”

The decisions became more difficult as the process progressed. From an initial group of 175 applicants, only 70 made it to the next round, where each was interviewed by a four-person panel.

“Interviews will make or break you,” Becker said. “You may be an amazing dancer, but if you come in and have nothing to say … ”

Becker didn’t finish the sentence, but she didn’t have to; the implication of a poor interview was clear.

“The dancing is great, but to me the community outreach and the appearances are way more important — to see if you can speak intelligently and comfortably.”

The 27 TopCats for 2009 have gone through one of the most thorough processes of any dance team in the NFL.

“The environment is very supportive and fun, and we want to make sure we pick the right people each year to portray that,” Becker said. “That’s why our process is longer than normal, because we need to know (more about each candidate).”

Interviews provide a glimpse into a potential TopCat’s personality. Auditions reveal their dancing skills. But the other component of evaluation comes at rehearsals. There, the primary purpose is to learn dance steps for the auditions, but a different kind of evaluation is also in play.

“You can impress me that first time in an interview and kind of get through it. But to see you six or seven times in the locker room, I’m really going to get an idea if you’re a good fit,” Becker said. “During rehearsals, we get to know them in a group setting and learn about their personality — whether they are team players; whether they get along with everybody.”

In that environment, Becker liked what she saw this year.

“What’s cool about this team is that the girls come with the perception that everyone’s catty, that it’s an intimidating environment because everyone’s competing,” she said. “Overwhelmingly, when we talk with the girls that audition for the first time, they speak of how amazing the girls that have been here are — how welcoming, warm and approachable they are. Those are the type of girls we pick – and they’re there for a reason.”

As the franchise has grown over its 15 years of existence, so have the TopCats, whose membership reflects a growing maturation of the team and its supporters.

“Now, girls come in and say, ‘I grew up watching the Panthers; I grew up watching the cheerleaders on the sidelines, and now I’m old enough to actually be one,'” Becker said. “It’s so cool that we’ve actually gotten to that point now where these kids who came to game and watched us can actually participate in it.”

The 2009 TopCats:
Ann Alston
Caiti Berg
Jennifer Bobbitt
Kimberly Coon
Cynthia English
Sara Gormel
T’fani Hixon
Megan Hodge
Leslie Holmes
Melanie Jackson
Kristen Kirkland
Kayla Lewis
Lisa Mach
Brittany Massey
Tara Mull
Carolyn Nicholson
Chika Nwankwo
DeAnna Platt
Michelle Rock
Stacey Sanderson
Chelsea Schatz
Jeri Smith
Kelli Triplett
Dana Waring
Katie Williams
Shelby Williams
Erin Willis