NewsCovering Kentucky


Ryan Martin O’Connor named UK Cheerleading Head Coach

Ryan Martin O'Connor.png
Posted at 8:26 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 20:26:55-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart announced on Tuesday that Ryan Martin O’Connor has been named the new head coach of Kentucky’s cheerleading program.

“Ryan is exactly the kind of person we wanted to hire as we sought the next leader of Kentucky cheerleading,” Barnhart said. “She has a proven track record of success, brings incredible energy to her work, and shares our commitment to both integrity and competitive excellence. 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 replaces Jomo Thompson, who was fired this past May.

O’Connor comes to UK from Western Kentucky University, where she was the head cheerleading coach and spirit program coordinator. At UK, she will be in charge of the 24-time national champion Wildcats’ coed cheerleading program.

“It’s a dream come true to be back home in Lexington to lead the best cheerleading program in the country,” O’Connor 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.”

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 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 also has prior coaching experience at UAB and Ole Miss.