The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders Have Some Interesting Vocations in the Vacation Capital

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Ingredients: Start with two pearl divers, add one dolphin trainer, vigorously stir in an inspector of damaged freight who has danced on cruise ships, include one finance major, shake in a belly dancer, insert a Radio/TV Broadcast major, introduce a Disney World entertainer, choose to pop in either Dr. Seuss’s Thing 1 or Thing 2, rub in a massage therapist, sprinkle in an early childhood education student, brush in an art major, and supplement with additional devoted dancers, originally from San Jose to Boston, as needed, for a total of over thirty beautiful and talented women.  Directions: Spread over the sidelines of a pre-heated Orlando football stadium, add choreography, and provide water and Gatorade for proper hydration.  Wait for the ‘pop’ of high energy sidelines dance and personality, and, voila, you have the inaugural Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders!  May be served with or without Betty Boop.

The Tuskers Cheerleaders are one of the brand new UFL cheerleading squads, and keep a busy schedule, especially on their Orlando game days.  UFL Cheer Director Billie O’Hara filled me in on their agenda for the last UFL home game of the season, on November 11th against Hartford.  Billie said, “The Cheerleaders will take the field at 3 for field rehearsal.  After that, we have our pre-game meal. Then we go into hair and make-up. The girls perform on the FanFest stage typically around 6:00 for a 7:00 game. There, they perform a routine, take pictures, sign autographs and ‘mix-n-mingle’ for about 15 minutes. Back to the locker room for final touch ups before we head to the tunnel for introduction and performance. The girls perform five routines per game!”

The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders greet fans at pre-game FanFest

The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders greet fans at pre-game FanFest


The importance of the role of the Tuskers Cheerleaders for this UFL squad is demonstrated by some unique events at the games.  Prior to the game, the Tuskers Cheerleaders leave their tunnel in single file and line up along the sidelines.  Then, just like the players, but better because it involves the each member of the squad, every Tuskers Cheerleader is announced by name, and then runs out to midfield.  Also, during each quarter, the Cheerleaders break from sideline formation, and distribute autographed cards to the fans, and after the game they gave away signed squad posters.   During the game, the Cheerleaders also performed numerous sideline routines, and five routines on the field, including changing into some ‘Daisy Dukes’ and performing to some Shania during the third quarter.

Tuskers Cheerleaders' third quarter routine

Tuskers Cheerleaders' third quarter routine

In addition to the squad, Betty Boop was on the sidelines.  Betty is the “Official Fantasy Cheerleader of the UFL” and is on also featured on some cute garments in the concession booths.  Billie says, smiling, “I help Betty get around at games and make sure she knows a few of the sidelines. She shares the locker room with us and comes to rehearsal, too! She’s the cheerleaders’ number one fan!”

Betty Boop on the pre-game FanFest stage

Betty Boop on the pre-game FanFest stage

During their last UFL home game of the season, the Tusker Cheerleaders lit up the sidelines on the field, but some of their “off the field” jobs, hobbies, and interests are quite unique, which I guess is expected in central Florida which has some truly unique opportunities.  As Renee says, “There are 32 girls on the team and everyone is unique in their own way.  Everyone has their different jobs outside the Tuskers, from massage therapist to pearl diver at Sea World.  And there is me with my strange part-time job of inspecting damaged freight in the Orlando area, when I am not teaching dance fitness class.”

How many pro cheer squads can say they have not only one pearl diver, but two!  And they’re sisters!  Kimberly M and Courtney M are the pearl divers at Sea World.  In addition, next store at Discovery Cove, Kyle works with the dolphins (insert envious weeping here).  Discovery Cove is a really great place where you can swim with dolphins and other sea life, but the funnest part is you can go barefoot all day!  Down the road, Kristin works at Universal Studios sometimes as Thing 1 or 2.  But the unifying factor for these women is dance.  Most of the squad having been dancing since they were teeny, and varied aspects of dance are a big part of their lives.  Loren is even a belly dancer.

Kimberly M is a pearl diver at Sea World

Kimberly M is a pearl diver at Sea World

Kyle trains dolphins at Discovery Cove

Kyle trains dolphins at Discovery Cove

Continue reading The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders Have Some Interesting Vocations in the Vacation Capital

Frankly My Dear, Billie O’Hara Goes Like the Wind to Build UFL Cheerleading

Billie surrounded by her Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders after the last home game

Billie surrounded by her Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders and mascot after the last home game


In April 2010, it seems like Billie O’Hara was given a Herculean task.  Billie was named Cheer and Dance Development Director for the new UFL; not just for a team, the entire league!  Billie had the responsibility to establish five complete cheerleading squads, in cities stretching from California to Connecticut.  They all needed their own budgets, directors, auditions, more than two dozen dancers per squad, choreography, uniforms, and more.  Plus, Billie had the task of establishing the UFL’s dance team procedure manual.  Oh yeah, and have that all ready by the 2010 fall season, thank you very much.  And if you have attended UFL games in person or viewed them on Versus and HDNet, you will see those squads not only came to being, but that they have the look, performance, and field presence of squads that have existed for years.


But wait, there’s more!  Oversight over an entire league not enough for you?  Well, Billie is also Director of the UFL’s Florida Tusker Cheerleaders, the franchise that call Orlando’s Citrus Bowl home.  This includes creation and development of her own new squad, including organizing and conducting auditions, final team selection, serving as team choreographer, and overseeing practice and game presentations.  Whew!  So Billie has all the work of high level management of the entire league’s cheerleaders, and the daily hands-on responsibilities of a brand new squad.  How did Billie pull it off?  Did she find a little local Harry Potter magic or some of Tinkerbell’s pixie dust?  We interviewed Billie as the UFL season wound down to learn her formula for UFL success with both speed and quality.


Billie is a native Floridian, originally from Jacksonville, and has been dancing from nearly the beginning.  “I started dancing at the age of three and never stopped.  It’s all I know!” recalls Billie.  Billie’s dance development hit its stride when she began participating in competitive events.


I wondered if she was ever nervous about these public performances, and Billie remembers, “My first dance competition, I was twelve years old, and I was competing for Miss Petite Dance of Florida.  Forty-seven girls were entered into the competition, so it was a long night!  I was very nervous!  I knew I had a great jazz routine, but I was nervous about my costume.  I was the only contestant with spray painted silver jazz shoes!  I kept telling my dance teacher and my mother, ‘I’m going to lose because I have alien and outer space shoes on.’  They tried to reassure me, but it didn’t work well!  They announced the top ten, then got down to #1 and #2.  All I could think about was the shoes, and I was staring at them as they announced the second place winner. But it wasn’t my name that was called, and I was in shock, looked out into the crowd, and mouthed to my mom, ‘They liked my space shoes.’ I had won the competition. My mom told me afterward, ‘It wasn’t your space shoes they like; it was you and your talent!’ I’ll never forget it! I still have the dance on video.”


“That was the beginning of many competitions to come,” Billie added, “I never wore silver shoes after that ever again and I rarely get nervous win it comes to competing.  I love to compete!”


Billie’s dance training continued at several prestigious dance schools, including the Tremaine Dance Center in Hollywood, and the Douglas Anderson School of the Performing Arts, where she was accepted into the All-American College Program at Walt Disney World.  Billie has also served on the faculty of the Dance Conservatory of Orlando and Academy of Performing Arts.

Billie (lower right) during 1995-1996 Orlando Magic Dancer season

Billie (lower right) during 1995-1996 Orlando Magic Dancer season (courtesy of Jeanine Klem-Thomas)


Billie’s excursion into pro sports dance included being an Orlando Magic Dancer for four years, and also on the squad for the AFL Orlando Predators.  Eventually, Billie moved into managing the Predators dance squad, the Prowlers.  Her Predators connection is especially strong because Billie’s husband, Pat O’Hara, is their current head coach, and was previously the Predators quarterback, playing for coach Jay Gruden.  Together, with Pat as QB and Jay as head coach, the Orlando AFL team won two ArenaBowl titles.


“It’s a Small World” in Orlando’s football and dance communities, so the stars aligned for the UFL and Billie to coalesce.   Fast forward to 2010, and Jay Gruden is now Head Coach of the UFL’s Orlando franchise, the Florida Tuskers.  The dominoes started to fall when Gruden called Billie with an idea last March.  “I originally went in to interview for the Director position for the Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders with no expectations beyond that.  Jay Gruden asked me if I would be interested, and if I could meet with Brian Melekian, Team Business Director of the UFL.  I said of course! I was thrilled to meet with Mr.Melekian.”


“The interview went very well, and long,” Billie recalls, smiling, “He asked me back for a second interview to sit down with Bill Peterson, the Chief Operating Officer of the league a week later. I had to prepare budgets, proposals, timelines, visionary ideas and concepts, et cetera. About an hour after that meeting, I received a phone call that not only would they like to hire me for the position of the Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders’ Director but also the UFL Cheer and Dance Development Director. I was honored and more than excited to accept.”

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Continue reading Frankly My Dear, Billie O’Hara Goes Like the Wind to Build UFL Cheerleading

Billie O’Hara and the Florida Tuskers Cheerleader Auditions

billie-pic-1Billie O’Hara is the Cheer and Dance Development Director for the UFL as well as the Director of the Florida Tusker Cheerleaders. A former Orlando Magic Dancer, O’Hara has more than 20 years of experience in dance as a performer, instructor and director. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., O’Hara began her formal dance training in 1989. She attended several prestigious dance schools, including the Tremaine Dance Center in Hollywood, Calif. and Douglas Anderson School of the Performing Arts, where she was accepted into the All American College Program at Walt Disney World.

In addition to dancing for the Orlando Magic for four years, she also danced professionally for the Orlando Predators (Arena Football League). She served as a back-up dancer and choreographer for former Backstreet Boys member Phoenix Stone. O’Hara has served on the faculty of the Dance Conservatory of Orlando and Academy of Performing Arts.

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[Complete Tuskers Cheerleader Audition Info]