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WSSU Powerhouse Cheerleaders to perform with Carolina Panthers’ Top Cats Sunday at game

Theme is Celebrating Black Culture

The Winston-Salem State University Powerhouse of Red and White Cheerleaders will perform with the Carolina Panthers’ TopCats during this Sunday’s matchup when the Panthers take on the Atlanta Falcons. Game time is at 1 p.m. at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The opportunity is part of the Carolina Panthers’ Inspire Change game with the theme: Representation Matters: Celebrating Black Culture.”

The Powerhouse cheerleaders will perform during the second half of the game in the end zone with the TopCats. Also scheduled to participate are the S.C. State University Champagne Dancers during the first half of the game, and N.C. A&T’s Blue and Gold Marching Machine Band will perform during halftime.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to showcase the wonderful talent of our cheerleaders and represent our university during this historical moment,” said NeSheila Washington, head coach of the Powerhouse cheerleaders. WSSU’s Powerhouse will make history this Sunday as the first CIAA cheer squad to perform with an NFL team’s professional cheerleaders.

Washington said she is excited to see the merger of two cheerleading styles. Powerhouse’s style is described as the HBCU stomp and shake, while the TopCats’ is more of a cheerleading dance style.

“By celebrating Black culture this season, we are not only recognizing the contributions of Black individuals to our community, but also fostering an environment where every fan can take pride in the diversity that makes us stronger together,” said Quentin DeBerry, director of Inclusion & Belonging at Tepper Sports & Entertainment, in a press release. “It’s about embracing our differences and finding common ground through the love of the game.”

Three members of Powerhouse and three members of the TopCats choreographed eight counts each for the routine and merged them together, Washington said. The TopCats visited WSSU on last week to practice, and Powerhouse will practice in Charlotte on Saturday complete with a photo shoot.

There are a few Powerhouse alumni who have cheered with the TopCats. Brandi Hopson is in her third season, and Melvin Sutton and Dedra Cherry are former members.

Washington, a former WSSU cheerleader herself, said the Powerhouse is a magnet for opportunities like these. In 2022, through an Instagram direct message, the squad was invited to perform in Ciara’s music video, J.U.M.P.  And in February, Powerhouse will perform on their next national professional sports stage during the NBA HBCU Classic during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis.

“When we have these opportunities, we want to make our ‘Ramily” proud as well as dynamically represent HBCU stomp and shake cheer,” Washington said. “We’re on cloud 9 – no we’re on cloud 1892.”


About Winston-Salem State University: Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region, and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.


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