Ryan O'Connor returns home to take over cheerleading program at UK

Ryan Martin O'Connor was named cheerleading coach at Kentucky on Tuesday. | Photo Courtesy of UK Athletics

LEXINGTON — Ryan Martin O’Connor is coming home.

O’Connor, a former cheerleader at the University of Kentucky, was hired as coach of the Wildcats on Tuesday. O’Connor previously held the same position at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Ole Miss and Western Kentucky University.

“It’s a dream come true to be back home in Lexington to lead the best cheerleading program in the country," she said. “I have watched this program my entire life and I can't wait to experience these traditions again from a new role. I look forward to continuing our success and building on our game-day atmosphere. That’s what our cheerleaders and the best fans in the world deserve.”

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said O’Connor “is exactly the kind of person we wanted to hire as we sought the next leader of Kentucky cheerleading."

“She has a proven track record of success, brings incredible energy to her work, and shares our commitment to both integrity and competitive excellence,” he said. “Not only that, she also has an intimate understanding of the proud tradition of this program and what it means to cheerleaders, this university and the Big Blue Nation. We are excited to help her write the program’s next chapter.”

O’Connor was a cheerleader at Kentucky from 2008-09 and then went to Alabama from 2009-12 and was part of the squad’s UCA National Championship squad in 2011. She graduated from Alabama in 2012.

O’Connor was a part of Team USA Co-ed teams in 2011 and 2012, winning the ICU gold medals both years. She was also on the Team USA All-Girl squad in 2013, when she and the team won another ICU gold medal.

The Lexington native 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.

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