As a cheerleader at Campbell University, Lauren Dixon routinely performed in front of crowds between 3,000 and 5,000 at home basketball and football games.
This fall, her potential audience will be exponentially greater when she steps on the field at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in front of 73,778 NFL fans.
A 2012 graduate, Dixon was one of 24 individuals who made the final cut as Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleaders for the 2012 season.
A health communications major from Summerfield, N.C., Dixon was one of 11 rookies who earned a spot on the squad along with 13 returning members. She earned her place during a month-long tryout process from a pool of nearly 150 aspiring TopCats.
"Lauren is one of the most well rounded cheerleaders I have ever coached," said Campbell head cheerleading coach Lisa Stewart. "She is self-motivated and extremely skilled, not only in cheerleading but also in dance. Her exuberant personality shows not only on the sidelines but in her day to day life. While at Campbell, Lauren was always a crowd favorite and did a wonderful job getting the fans involved in the game."
Cheerleader choreographer/coordinator Richelle Grant said the 40 finalists were pushed harder than ever this year, having to learn three different routines from scratch on three consecutive nights before taking the weekend to prepare for the final audition.
"It was definitely the most challenging audition we've had from a learning and execution standpoint," Grant said. "We have raised the bar each year. They handled it very well."
The TopCats entertain fans at every home game at Bank of America Stadium in addition to being visible throughout the Carolinas at corporate and charitable events.
A group of 24 women, the TopCats represent all regions of the Carolinas and range in age from 21 to 35 years old. They hold careers in a variety of distinguished professions, including business, engineering and teaching.
The final squad members are selected based on their personalities, showmanship, dance skills, professionalism and physical fitness.
Dixon and the 2012 TopCats will debut during prep-season home games Aug. 11 against Houston and Aug. 17 vs. Miami. The regular season home opener is set for Sept. 16 vs. New Orleans.