Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Alumni Cheerleaders is excited about our last "After the Poms" feature story of 2013 with Hope Donnelly!! Hope is a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader, Tampa Bay Storm Dancer, Tampa Bay Lightning Bolt Brigade, and Orlando Magic Dancer.
Were cheerleading and dancing a part of your life when you were younger and how did you get involved?
I actually began dancing at age 2 ½ and cheering at 7 in Panama City Beach and continued both through college in St Petersburg at Eckerd College.
We understand that you are a former professional cheerleader for 4 cheer/dance teams. What an accomplishment! Please tell us about the team (s) and what year(s) you cheered and favorite memories.
I was selected as a member and co-captain of my first pro team, the Tampa Bay Storm Dancers/Cheerleaders. After the Storm, I was a member of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders and had the thrill of cheering at Super Bowl and winning! In 2004, I was with the Orlando Magic Dancers, where some of my favorite performance memories come from our Balkans Military Tour over the holidays. I sang “When you believe” during our holiday show, but have too many favorite memories to choose from. From 2001-2005 I was also on the Tampa Bay Lightning Bolt Brigade. I loved being in the rafters of the Times Forum to see the fights and goals, until I was offered a full-time position with them as the Entertainment Manager.
From 2009-2013, I coached the University of Tampa Spartan Cheerleaders and Dance Team and finished my Master’s Degree in Sports and Exercise Psychology. During that time, I started the company 8-Count Productions in an effort to combine my interests in visual arts and performing arts with my experience in management and my new degree.
After years of searching and planning, 8-Count has now found a home at the historic Rialto Theater in downtown Tampa that we are renovating into a dance and art studio, gallery, production and event space, as well as a few small business offices. With 8-Count Productions, I am able to create art, run the studios, and do performance consulting for athletes in one space, which is a dream fulfilled, all while teaching high school art!
Also this year, I got engaged to my soul mate and we are planning our wedding in our building on April 12, 2014. My fiancé, George Carter, is also a dancer, specializing in all styles of hip-hop and ballroom, and a photographer, rounding out the skill set in our company. In addition, I love to cook anything from steak on the grill to pad Thai in my wok. With a lot of experimenting, I have become pretty fearless in the kitchen.
What advice would you give to a current or future cheerleader?
As an alumni, coach, and teacher, I give the advice to enjoy the little moments, the celebrations, as well as the obstacles. Use all of those lessons and skills in whatever path you take during and “after the poms”. Cherish the friendships and bonds you make while on a team and build up the dance/art community around you to leave a legacy not just make memories. There are many competitions in life (to make a team, to win an accolade) but you are truly only in competition with yourself and allowing yourself the freedom to dream big. What’s the worst that can happen?
Currently, I am reading the fourth book in the series “Game of Thrones” and “Bankable Leadership” by Dr. Tasha Eurich.
I love traveling and some of my favorites are Dublin, Prague, and NYC. George and I are planning a Greek Island sailing trip for our honeymoon which will be a new adventure for both of us.
One of my favorite quotes and mantra for this year: Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. –Bill Cosby
My motivational words for 2013: Rebuild Restore Fruition
Best wishes to Hope with her upcoming marriage and new business!! Go to www.8-countproductions.com to learn more about it.