Episode 15: How to Have a Winning Mindset with Head Coach of Kentucky Cheer

For this week’s episode of Life After Cheer, our guest is Ryan Martin O’Connor: the head coach of Kentucky Cheer – also known as the most extraordinary cheerleading program in the country!! And with that title comes a lot …a lot of pressures, mindset tips, and life lessons.

In today’s conversation with Ryan, we talk about everything from

  • The pressures to feel perfect and look a certain way – both as a cheerleader and in life after cheer
  • How to change your mindset around fitness 
  • And how to overcome burnout – both in cheer and in the workplace



Ryan O’Connor’s bio:

Ryan O’Connor is currently the head coach of the University of Kentucky’s cheerleading program. A native of Lexington, O’Connor was a five-time KAPOS state champion and a five-time UCA National High School Cheerleading Champion while cheering for Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

O’Connor was a cheerleader at the UK from 2008-09, then at Alabama from 2009-12. While with the Crimson Tide, she won the 2011 UCA College National Championship. O’Connor graduated from Alabama in 2012.

She was a part of Team USA Coed in 2011 and 2012, winning the ICU gold medals. She was also on the Team USA All-Girl squad in 2013, when she and the team won another ICU gold medal.

While at UAB, O’Connor’s squads produced four top-10 finishes at UCA College Nationals and in group stunts.

At Ole Miss, O’Connor’s all-girl squad claimed a Gameday National Championship, in addition to two third-place finishes, a fourth-place result, and a seventh-place showing in the D1A Division. In Coed, her Ole Miss squads finished third and fourth in Gameday and seventh in the DIA Division. She also had group stunt teams finish fourth and seventh and partner stunt teams that recorded 10th and 11th-place finishes.

O’Connor and her husband Kyle have two sons, Michael and Noah.