WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Calisha Allen is a second year student at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, but on Panthers game days, Calisha trades her white coat and stethoscope for her Top Cat uniform and pompoms.
“It was definitely not my plan to do them both at the same time,” Allen said. “I do say that I wanted to audition for the team and of course I wanted to come to medical school. I think both of them happening at the same time was more of life arranged itself that way and I’m glad it did.”
This is Allen’s second season as a Top Cat.
Allen says the time commitment is tough: using mornings and early afternoons to study in Winston-Salem while spending Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays in Charlotte for rehearsals and game days, and that’s not even counting special appearances and Thursday football games.
“I think the thing that helps me balance them out is, first of all, keeping a very, very rigid schedule,” she shares. “You really can’t afford to fall behind in either one, but it’s also important to schedule breaks too.”
The Top Cat is confident her cheerleading career is helping her as a medical student due to the responsibilities and confidence she learns from it.
“We have to be composed and be ready for anything at any time,” she says about being a cheerleader. “I just hear my coach’s voice in my head and I’m like, “You’re a professional! You can do this! And you know I fix my white coat and enter to the room confidently.”
Allen is originally from Virginia Beach, Va. Her cheerleading career began in elementary school for little league teams, and then continued in middle and high school.
She was a competitive cheerleader at her alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill.
The spring prior to entering medical school, Allen decided to audition for the Panthers cheerleading team.
“Going to auditions for me was like, “You know what? I’m going to medical school. I’m not gonna have a life. I’m gonna do this because I enjoy cheerleading, I enjoy dancing and I wanna see you know what it’s like to be a part of this program,”” she comments/
Allen says she enjoys being Top Cat and hopes she can do it for as long as she can during her time at Wake Forest.
“Medical school is very demanding, so I think I’m just gonna have to take it year by year, but I think that getting to this point and coming back for a second season was a big decision.”
Allen is very enthusiastic about her team. When asked what her favorite part of being a Top Cat was, she said, “It’s the community atmosphere, the family that you get from being a part of this team and a part of this organization. From my relationship with my teammates, to my relationship with management, to my connection with the fans… It really is a family affair.”
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