Bartee Makes TopCats
July 10, 2017
Bartee selected as Carolina Panthers cheerleader
BY JENNETTES STAFF
A bright new face has brought great energy to weddings and other events at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head during the past few busy months. Kaila Bartee, an upbeat and charismatic Radford University 2014 graduate, has become a go to assistant for Pier Facility Rentals Coordinator, Michele Bunce.
Bunce said Bartee is able to handle all sort of situations with style and poise. She’s also fun to be around because of her cheerful nature and out-going personality.
“What I love most about Kaila is her fun, dynamic personality,” Bunce said. “She approaches things with an open mind. When things present a challenge, she simply faces it with a smile on her face and a desire to make it better.”
While attending Radford, Bartee was a member of the R. U. Rockers Dance Team, a Division 1 varsity sport, while she powered through her Communications and Public Relations degree in three years.
In addition to “rockin” on the sidelines of Highlanders’ basketball games, the athletic Bartee and her teammates captured a seventh place finish in the National Dance Alliance’s Collegiate Dance Team Nationals her final season in May 2014.
“That was the highlight of my time as a R. U. Rocker,” she said. “Placing in the top ten my last year on the team was a great way to finish my career there. It was history making for Radford University. It was the first time the school’s dance team had ever made it to the final round, a huge accomplishment.”
A life-long dancer, Bartee, age 24, hasn’t given up on this passion either – instead she’s taken it all to the next level. Later this summer, on Wednesday, Aug. 9 in Charlotte, she’ll suit up for the first time as a National Football League cheerleader for the Carolina Panthers football team. For that contest, they’ll host the Texans for a preseason game in Bank of America Stadium.
The road from her Radford Rocker days to becoming a TopCat was rigorous and it took two separate tries, a year apart, to make the squad of 32 members. Bartee has made plenty of sacrifices and its tested her solid work ethic to its limit.
But her daily workouts, continuous commitment to nutrition and plain persistence have paid off; she’ll be entertaining Panthers’ fans near and far this season when she cheers on Carolina during all 10 home football games. When asked how this makes her feel, Bartee replied: “I’m nervous yet excited!”
She was first inspired to try out for a professional squad many, many years ago by her mom Frankie Bartee, who was a Washington Redskins “Redskinette” cheerleader in 1985. Kaila was raised in Northern Virginia.
“It has forever been a dream of mine to carry on this family legacy,” she said. “It’s so rewarding to have my hard work payoff and to be able to recognize myself as a professional cheerleader now.”
Bartee thanks her local personal trainer and professional dancer, Olesya Lisichka, of Outer Banks Sports Club in Nags Head for helping her prepare during the months leading up to the 2017 auditions.
When Bartee’s mom visited the Outer Banks recently, they took a photo with Kaila and her new blue and silver pom-poms while her mom held her burgundy and gold pom-poms. The pair looks excited.
Naturally, Frankie is thrilled with big news.
“Kaila being a TopCat is such an accomplishment and I couldn’t be more proud and excited,” she said. “This year will give her the most fantastic moments of joy and pride anyone could experience.”
Frankie added that Kaila’s dauntless resolution enabled her reach this lofty goal.
“Kaila reaches each goal, never gives up – she’s kind, gentle and caring to all,” she said. “What a great asset for the Carolina Panthers organization.”
Since Kaila works various hours at Jennette’s managing wedding receptions and other types of rentals, she bases her days off and work schedule around when the TopCats practice and game days.
Kaila said she’s racking up the miles on her vehicle but in general, she doesn’t mind the commute thanks to some great music.
“We have practice every week at the stadium,” she said. “Once the season starts, I’ll also go to the games – some are on Sundays, others are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – there are many different days.”
Kaila was especially thrilled when she was assigned her locker and cheerleading uniforms. It’s all Panther’s blue, black and silver. The locker room itself is spacious because it doubles as a practice space, Kaila said.
At other times, the cheerleaders utilize one of the practice fields for dancing and workouts. The team has personal trainers who facilitate workouts to get their hearts pumping.
“The workouts are strenuous, however, they are preparing us for long, strenuous game days,” Kaila said. “You never really know for sure how long a game will last due to the possibility of overtime.”
As for her day-to-day duties at Jennette’s Pier, her supervisor, Bunce, knows Kaila will continue to work hard as she’s proven herself to be a real asset.
“Kaila demonstrates such great initiative in helping rental clients, vendors and staff for any type of event,” Bunce said. “She looks for ways to help and improve things -- a true team member.”
Kaila lives on Roanoke Island with her German Sheppard mix named Chesapeake or “Chessie” for short who she often takes to the beach for walks and playtime. Her parents visit often and are both looking forward to attending some of the Panthers games this season.
Bunce has already purchased her tickets to a Monday night game versus the Miami Dolphins featured on ESPN on Nov. 13 at 8:30 p.m.
“It is going to be such a treat to be able to attend a Panther's game after seeing all the hard work that Kaila has put into her passion to be a cheerleader and dancer,” Bunce said. “We want to support and love her in any way we can -- she is a wonderful and spirited young lady.”
Not bad for a “Rad Grad.”