Lipinski selected to cheer for Houston Texans
By Keith Sparks
For the past two years, Lauren Lipinski has been on the Panther sidelines with the Liberty Belles, serving as the drill team director. Next season, however, she’ll trade in purple and gold for red and blue as she cheers for the NFL’s Houston Texans.
In January, Lipinski was attending the annual Texas Dance Educators Association Convention per usual, hoping to make connections and learn how to better instruct her students. To her surprise, she was actually being scouted the entire time.
“It’s kind of funny, I was at our annual dance teacher convention called Texas Dance Educators Association and it’s in Houston, Texas every year, and I was actually scouted there by the Texans’ choreographer,” Lipinski said. “She gave me a pass to tryout and I would get to skip to the second round, so I kind of thought about it and said, ‘Why not? Might as well take a chance.’ It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
After being given the news, Lipinski started hitting the gym for the next four months, preparing for her April tryout. The tryout consisted of three rounds, all of which took place during one grueling day that didn’t end until 3 a.m.
500 total dancers attended the one-day tryout, after which 55 finalists were named, including Lipinski. All 55 finalists were subjected to a week-long tryout that included practices and other events, and 34 of them would officially be named Texans’ cheerleaders. Once again, Lipinski’s name was included.
To prepare for the tryout, Lipinski enrolled in classes at Ballet Austin, which she attended once a week, and committed to working out five days a week on her own while also committing to healthy eating.
Although she had put the dream on hold while working in Liberty Hill, Lipinski has always wanted to dance at the professional level. After doing so in high school, college, and at the semi-professional level, a lack of professional opportunities in Austin forced her to put that dream on the back burner – until now.
“I did drill team in high school, I danced in college, I danced for the Texas Stars here in Cedar Park, so pro dance has always been something that I loved and dreamed of, especially the NFL,” Lipinski said. “I’m a huge football fan, so that’s something that I’ve always wanted. Whenever I go to a game, I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish that was me on the field,’ but living in Austin, there’s not really an opportunity for that. I’ve been happy working and being here, so when it came to me, I just decided I had to take it.”
As a Houston Texans cheerleader, Lipinski will be on the sidelines of every Texans game, and she’ll also be responsible for making appearances outside of football for a variety of events that the Texans organization hosts.
“We dance at halftime, we dance during the games, and we also have a bunch of appearances that we do throughout the year,” Lipinski said. “We volunteer through our Texans Care campaign, and just with the different events that the Texans have, we’ll go out and be a representative.”
Lipinski tried to keep her tryout quiet so it wouldn’t be a distraction to the Liberty Belles during Show Week, but they eventually found out what was going on through social media and word of mouth.
“They were super supportive, but I didn’t tell them exactly what was going on when it all happened,” Lipinski said, “but I was gone a lot during the week that was all happening, and they found out through Facebook and through their moms, so they were all super supportive and sent me a really sweet video, made me a sign, so they kind of knew what was going on throughout the week.”
Lipinski’s career change will be bittersweet for the Panthers, as it means she’ll have to step away from the drill team. She admitted there is some sadness in her departure, but how could she not take advantage of such an opportunity after preaching to her team to do the same?
“When I made it, they were super excited, and I think they just kind of figured out over time that I wasn’t going to be returning, because it is a big time commitment,” Lipinski said. “They were sad, but I think they saw it coming. What I told them is, ‘I teach y’all to follow your dreams and go out and do anything, so how could I teach that to you and not do it myself?’ Hopefully, they learned something from that.”
Lipinski signed a one-year contract with the Texans, and will have to decide after the end of the upcoming season whether or not she wants to try out once again in April 2019. For the 2018-2019 season, at least, Panther fans can cheer for the Texans, knowing one of their own will be on the sidelines.