Siobhan Campbell-Martin, of Trenton, N.J., will cheer on the Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleading squad at Super Bowl 50.
TRENTON – When the dance team at Trenton Catholic Academy became the cheerleading team several years ago, Siobhan Campbell was named one of its leaders.
But the teenager, who had trained as a dancer for years, was too intimidated to be called a cheerleader and quit the team.
She later tried out for the dance teams of two high schools she attended, but didn’t make the cut. It seemed like she would never put on a cheerleading uniform again, she said.
With a lift from God, the Trenton native says, she is now a three-year veteran of the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders — the TopCats — and will be cheering at Super Bowl 50 next Sunday in California.
“I give all the credit to God. He did all this,” she said.
Now Siobhan Campbell-Martin, a newlywed, she says persistence and some dance training in New York also played a part in her ascension to the TopCats troupe.
The 25-year-old was even named Sports Illustrated’s Cheerleader of the Week in 2014.
She has a message for anyone growing up in the city: “I’m proud to say I’m from Trenton. Look at me now.”
NFL cheerleaders don’t usually travel to away games, so Campbell-Martin said the Super Bowl is extra special for her team because they’ll get to meet and cheer with the Denver Broncos cheerleaders.
And then there’s the halftime show. “I’m a huge Beyonce fan,” she said.
Although the TopCats won’t perform at the halftime show — which also includes Coldplay and Bruno Mars — Campbell-Martin said she’ll be watching closely.
Campbell-Martin said her path to cheering professionally started as a child at the Hammond-Phelps Center For Dance on Maple Avenue.
“That’s where my love for dance was established,” she said.
She also played basketball, West Ward baseball and even shot a few rounds with the Trenton Junior Golf program.
“But I pretty much stuck with dance,” she said.
When she left the high school squad, she remembers her coach Cassidy Manning saying, “She told me she believed in me, and I’ve never forgotten that.”
Siobhan Campbell-Martin cheers with the Carolina Panthers TopCats squad during a game.
College brought her to the Carolinas, first to Winston-Salem State University, then Appalachian State University.
“I kind of felt like I was running away from dance,” she said of her time at Winston-Salem.
She had a black major and was trying new things to pursue. God humbled her, she said.
She needed a fresh start and moved to Appalachian. She still didn’t make their dance team, but she majored in dance and minored in business, and returned to Trenton the summer before her senior year.
That summer, Campbell-Martin enrolled in a dance program in New York City and felt back on track.
“That’s pretty much where it started again,” she said. She got callbacks for dances, including one from Disney.
“But the one thing I didn’t see coming was cheerleading for the Panthers,” she said.
However, she took a class in college, taught by a TopCats coach, where she earned a first-round bye to tryouts.
“She saw something in me that I didn’t,” Campbell-Martin said. “I knew from there I wanted to keep accelerating, keep moving forward and keep at it.”
“And now I’m in my third year, I’m now the captain and we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
Off the pitch, she works as a project coordinator at Genera Solutions in Charlotte. Her parents still live in Trenton, as do her siblings, she said.
She sees herself as a role model for anyone like her who grows up in the city. “I just want to encourage people in Trenton, wherever they are in their development, to keep at it.”
Kevin Shea can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.
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