Welcome To The Rebels! Ryan O'Connor Takes On Ole Miss

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 3.54.35 PM.png

Ryan O'Connor was born into the cheer world and she has made it her passion ever since. After her sideline days were over, O'Connor followed in her mother's footsteps and became a coach. With a handful of years coaching the talented University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers under her belt, O'Connor is ready to take the next step in her coaching journey. She has now accepted the head cheerleading coaching position at the University of Mississippi! Hotty Toddy!


How did your cheerleading journey begin?


My mother, Donna Martin, is a cheerleading coach, so I always like to joke and say I never had a choice! Cheerleading made my mom happy, so I knew I wanted to get involved. I was on my first competitive team at six years old at the Pep Club All Stars in Lexington, Kentucky. Since then, I believe I have been the luckiest cheerleader in the world! I've been on some amazing teams, worked with some of the best athletes and coaches in the country and traveled the world cheering football games or teaching camps with UCA. It has been an incredible ride so far and I truly believe I am just getting started.

I competed with Pep Club on several different teams until my junior year of high school, when I decided to focus on school cheer. I was a member of Paul Laurence Dunbar's cheerleading team where my mom and former UK cheerleading coach, Saleem Habash, were my coaches. We had an extremely successful run while I was there and we were featured on a reality TV show, Cheerleader Nation. 

null
O'Connor cheers on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Bryant Denny Stadium.

After high school, I moved on to cheer one year at the University of Kentucky before realizing my true home was a little further south in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was a member of the University of Alabama cheerleading team from 2009-2013. 

During my four years of college, I was lucky enough to cheer for three BCS National Championships and win one with my team as well. I also was a member of the USA National Coed team for two years and USA All Girl for one year. Competing for my country is definitely one of my most memorable and humbling experiences.

Ryan's Cheer Titles


  • ​UCA National Champion: Paul Laurence Dunbar High School 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 
  • UCA Group Stunt National Champion: 2006
  • KAPOS State Champion: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • CHEERSPORT: 2 National Championships with Pep Club All Stars
  • UCA College National Champion: University of Alabama 2011
  • ICU World Champion: 2011, 2012, 2013
 
null
O'Connor mid layers a pyramid with the U.S. National Team at the ICU World Cheerleading Championships.


When did you know you wanted to become a coach?


Honestly, coaching was never my dream. I always thought that belonged to my mom. I turned down two GA positions to coach right after graduation and went to Memphis to work as the editor of American Cheerleader Magazine instead. Once I was there, it didn't take me long to realize that I missed teaching and working with young cheerleaders. There is no greater feeling than watching someone reach their goals and knowing that you might have had a hand in it. I had some of the best coaches throughout my career and I would love to be able to help athletes in the way they helped shape me. 

Coaching is not a job that you do for money and it is not a job that is for the weak-hearted. It is by far the biggest challenge in my life, but I am loving how much I am learning from my athletes.
 
null
Ryan goes up in a stunt with Vestavia Hills High School at the 2017 National High School Cheerleading Championship.

How excited are you to take on your new position with Ole Miss Cheer?


I am truly honored to be the head cheer coach at the University of Mississippi. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real! It is incredible to be at a school that is so rich in tradition and history and I can't wait for my first game day in the Vaught! Campus is absolutely beautiful and I still find myself looking around and smiling! I have two extremely talented cheerleading teams and a great mascot program. I am looking forward to leading them to success on the field and the competition mat.
 

What are some of your goals as a coach? What do you hope to bring to the program?


As a coach, my goal is to make a difference. I hope to make a difference in the athletic department, across other departments on campus, in our game day atmosphere, in competition, in the classroom and in my athletes' lives. I hope to bring a new energy and a new way of thinking when it comes to game day and competition. I hope to have a 100% graduation rate and for my athletes to leave my program having learned something that will help them contribute to society after college. I hope I still get phone calls 20 years from now from one person saying, "Thanks, coach."


What is your favorite part about being a coach?


My favorite part about being a coach is the relationships you create on campus and with your team. I truly enjoy listening to young people interact with each other and watching them navigate through life! 

There's always a conflict, a personal struggle, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or something that one of them goes through that I have also been through. It's fun to be a part of those years when they are starting to figure out their purpose and what they want to do with their lives! Watching people you love succeed inside and outside of cheerleading is why I love to do what I do.
 

What is your favorite cheerleading memory?


I have so many memories with cheerleading that it is hard to pick just one! I would say that having a mother who is also a coach has been the best part. When she was my coach there were DEFINITELY difficult times, but at the same time, it was special to have a mom who understood everything we were working toward. She not only understood why we were practicing so hard, she was in charge of motivating us to do so! I think her dream for me was to be a UK cheerleader my whole life… and when I transferred to Alabama, I felt like I broke her heart. In 2011, when we won nationals, she was the first person I found to hug in the crowd and I knew her dream was really just for me to be happy, no matter what team I was on.
 
null
Ryan and mother Donna embrace after Alabama wins 2011 National Championship.

Who is your inspiration?


Donna Martin (my mom). Hands down. I grew up watching her coach so many athletes, putting up with difficult parents, finding ways to fundraise so that every child would have the opportunity to cheer, sacrificing her time with family and friends and so much more. She is the most positive person you have ever met, even through some very difficult times in her life. You would never know that anything has ever been wrong she always shows up with a big smile on her face. She always sees the best in people and when someone like that believes you are good, you want to be! You don't want to let her down. I am grateful to her as a mother and a coach.


Welcome To Our House: Ole Miss


Must-Watch Event: NCA High School Nationals

Megaphone.jpg

Top school teams from across the U.S. will head to Dallas, Texas, to compete for a national championship title January 27-28 at NCA High School Nationals 2018.

Big Event Weekend Coming Soon!

MAJORCSNHSN.jpg

Another big weekend in cheerleading and dance is coming your way soon! You can watch three all star and school cheer events all in one weekend. We've got all the details and how you can watch the action LIVE on Varsity TV.

Venue Insider: NCA High School Nationals 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 11.55.21 AM.png

The 2018 NCA High School Nationals is quickly approaching! The weekend's festivities will take place in The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. 

Next Weekend Is Going To Be MAJOR!

LadyLightning.JPG

Want to watch the top Senior Level 5 teams from the most prestigious programs in the country? Then you don't want to miss the The MAJORS 2018 on Friday, January 26, in Indianapolis on Varsity TV. 

Meet The 2018 U.S. National Cheer Teams

USA.jpg

Some of the most talented cheerleaders from across the United States traveled to Orlando, Florida to try out for the opportunity to represent the USA this April at the ICU World Championship. There were 115 cheerleaders who attended this year's selection process.

Memphis Rocked The House In Hip Hop Finals

IMG_5468.JPG

The University of Memphis rocked the house today in division IA hip hop with a routine full of attitude! The Tigers want the title and they made that statement clear in finals at the 2018 UDA College National Championship this weekend in Orlando, Florida.

FSU Showcased Their Seminole Pride In Jazz Finals

IMG_5468 copy.jpg

It's been an incredible of dance at the 2018 UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship in Orlando, Florida, this weekend. Every finalist delivered breath-taking emotion that brought teams to the eyes of fans watching.

Who To Watch In DIA Finals At UCA College Nationals!

small.jpeg

To college cheer fans it feels like Christmas morning, because it's finally time for one of the biggest nights of the year: the division IA finals at UCA & UDA Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship in Orlando, Florida!

Shelton State Earns 11th Championship Title!

SSCCBANNER.jpg

Shelton State earned their 11th national championship title at 2018 UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend.

Pom-Perfect Routines To Watch In Div. lA Finals

_DSC0082.jpg

The pom division is always one of the most fun and exciting divisions at the college championship. This season, the division lA teams stepped up their game with some incredible, fast-paced, and skillful routines.