Wednesday, October 08, 2008
By Billy Byler
The Augusta Chronicle
The Augusta Chronicle
Dana Waring works two jobs, rarely gets a weekend off and is required to perform with flawless perfection under 70,000 pairs of watchful eyes.
The former North Augusta resident wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's always been my dream," she said. "Ever since I can remember it's been my main goal in life."
Waring is an NFL Cheerleader. The former Redcliffe Elementary pre-kindergarten teacher made the Carolina Panthers cheerleading squad this past spring and spends her Sundays at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. She's one of 27 Carolina TopCats who help liven up Panther fans each weekend.
"When the season started you're performing in front of 72,000 fans," she said. "That was a big excitement. It was breathtaking. I tried to focus on the routine, but you can't help looking around."
Waring grew up chasing the cheerleader dream. She cheered for football and basketball games at North Augusta High School and developed her skills at the Dance Shoppe in North Augusta.
Waring went on to make the cheerleading squad at Claflin University and landed a spot on the dance team in the South Carolina State marching band. After graduating, she returned to the Augusta area and continued to pursue cheerleading, earning a spot on the Augusta Lynx dance team in 2007.
Dory Kyrias, then the director of the Lady Lynx, quickly saw Waring's talent.
"She immediately stood out," Kyrias said. "She was a leader. We would have fans coming to the game wanting to know where she was going to be. They would ask, 'Where's Dana? Where's Dana?' She just really connected with the fans."
Late last hockey season, Waring heard about tryouts for the Carolina TopCats. For two and a half months this past spring she commuted from her home in North Augusta to Charlotte just for a shot at making the team.
"I was teaching here so I'd get off work, drive to Charlotte and then come back that night," she said. "I'd get back at 2 a.m., and I had to be at work at 7:15 a.m."
Waring found out she was a NFL Cheerleader in the middle of a busy school day.
"I checked my e-mail at work and saw it there, and I started cheering and going crazy," she said. "My Pre-K kids had no idea what was going on, but they started cheering anyway. I think they were just happy that I was happy."
Waring's commitment to the Panthers required her to move to Charlotte where she teaches full time and cheers on the weekends. She also practices three hours per day, three days per week -- not including additional appearances the squad makes in the community throughout the week. It's all part of being a teacher and an NFL Cheerleader.
"That still sounds weird to say," she said. "The season's long, but I'm doing two things I actually love so I don't mind it at all."