There's far more to cheerleading than pom poms and inspiring school spirit, Cheerleader Generation mother-daughter coaching duo Donna Martin and Ryan O'Connor will be the first to tell you.
Ahead of the Tuesday premiere of the newest Lifetime reality series, Lexington Kentucky's Dunbar High School coach and her daughter, Ole' Miss head cheer coach, opened up to PopCulture.com about the intensity and passion viewers can expect to see as they train to try and be the first mother-daughter pair to win national titles the same year.
"I don't think that has even been done — that's why it's such a big deal," O'Connor said of taking home two national titles with their teams in the same year. "I mean, winning one is incredible, and winning two is just unheard of."
"I also think it's important that we represent schools," Martin chimed in. "These aren't all-star teams where you go get to pick your talents."
Bringing cameras into their world was nothing new for the Dunbar High School coach, who in the past appeared on MTV and Cheerleader Nation sharing her journey trying to wrangle the teens on her team into excellence.
While O'Connor had appeared on the series as a kid, it was the first time Ole' Miss has had "anything like that" when it came to filming for a reality show, but it didn't take long before she and the team basically forgot they were there.
"I think, for me, just seeing the growth of the athletes who are featured [will be the best part of seeing the series premiere," she added. "It's been fun for me in real time to see them grow, and I'd like to see myself be a coach on camera."
Martin, meanwhile, teased some seriously "emotional" moments in the upcoming season, explaining she expects to be "shedding some tears" as they air.
But most of all, the two can't wait for people to finally see just how athletic and passionate their teams are about cheerleading, and how much dedication it takes to become a champion.
"I think they're going to be incredibly surprised and impressed with how athletic our kids are and how much athleticism it does take," O'Connor told PopCulture. "I think it will help cheerleading gain respect."
Martin added, "I think one thing they're going to see when people watch the show is how involved it is. These kids not only cheer ball games and support other teams, they have outside jobs, they have to fundraise. … You see passion."0comments
Cheerleader Generation premieres Tuesday, June 11 at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
Photo credit: Lifetime