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Hubert grad O’Connor flying high at Temple

Alyssa Heron, Taylor O’Connor, Emily Livewell, Nicole Lemerise and Erin Fitzpatrick are on the Temple cheerleading team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Taylor O’Connor is doing the same thing in college that she did in high school.

She’s showing she’s among the best in the nation at cheerleading.

O’Connor is a junior flyer on the Temple University cheerleading team. And when she first became an Owl, she was the first member of her successful St. Hubert High School cheerleading team to join the Temple squad.

“I love Temple, my freshman year I went to West Chester, I transferred,” said O’Connor, who grew up in Mayfair and now lives in Somerton. “It was the right move. I didn’t cheer. I missed it, and it was a huge part in why I transferred. I love it way more here.”

After she got settled, her Bambie friends came along.

Fellow Hubert grads Nicole Lemerise, Emily Livewell, Alyssa Heron and Erin Fitzpatrick have joined her, and are now on the Temple team with her.

“Definitely, without St. Hubert, none of us would be prepared to cheer at this level,” O’Connor said. “It’s really cool, you’ve grown up with them, you continue doing what you love with people you’ve known for so long. Some of us have been on different teams at Hubert’s, so it’s cool to be together. Some of the five were on JV or varsity, so it’s cool to be all on one team.”

She also credits Lisa McNesby, their coach at St. Hubert.

“She’s seriously the best,” O’Connor said of McNesby. “I think all of our coaches at St. Hubert’s push us to be better. They would always support us in whatever we do after high school. I think it’s why we stuck with cheerleading after high school. And now that we’re cheering, they always ask how we’re doing. Always wanting to know more and encouraging us.”

When they report back, it’s good news.

Just like they did when they were wearing the Brown and Gold, the Owls went and excelled in Florida while wearing the Cherry and White.

While competing in Nationals in Orlando, the Owls cheerleading team took sixth place in the Traditional Division, second place in the Game Day Division.

It was a great showing for the team, which went up against the best cheerleading teams in the nation. They didn’t just perform, they competed with the best.

“It’s pretty cool because we go against big time schools, Alabama, Ole Miss, it’s cool to be on the same playing field as them,” O’Connor said. “It’s all a surprise. We would have been happy with anything. It wasn’t planned to get that high up in the rankings.

“We have a really good team. We work hard. We take corrections. We are always striving to improve. We’re the underdogs in a way, but we keep fighting for our spots. We never expect to win.

“I do think competing (in Orlando at nationals) helped us a lot, for us. It calms the nerves. You know what’s coming. You know the work coming and expect the results. We went every year in high school, so we know what to do.

“The trips are a different experience every single year. It’s fun to be with your team and experience something in that magnitude being surrounded by so many good teams. So rewarding for all the trips, especially when you get the results you want. It’s so rewarding.”

The Owls weren’t the only Hubert grads to compete. Haylie Klose represented the University of Wilmington at nationals and Kayla Cono was there with the University of Delaware.

Competing in nationals might be a normal routine for the Hubert cheerleaders, but they are definitely doing some different things with the Owls.

The Temple cheerleaders also attend football and men’s and women’s basketball games to cheer on the Owls, which is something they didn’t typically do at Hubert.

It’s new for O’Connor, but something she enjoys.

“It’s a lot of fun especially because at Hubert’s, we didn’t have that. It was all girls, we didn’t have football. We had girls basketball here and there. It took some adjusting.

“The tournament is coming up in Fort Worth, Texas, the conference basketball tournament and we’re going. That’s something we’re all looking forward to. Should be fun cheering for them.”

O’Connor is having fun as a cheerleader and she’s also excelling in the classroom. She’s majoring in communications, but keeping her options open.

“I’m not sure what I’ll do, I’m also minoring in public relations, so it’s kind of broad,” O’Connor said. “Hopefully work in a newsroom of some sort. I think I’m interested in something like that because I grew up wanting to be an anchor, but kind of changed my mind. I like being in either a newsroom or doing PR for a company or a professional sports team. Definitely within a big company. It’s broad, which I like.”

Whatever she does, she’ll do as one of the best cheerleaders in the nation.

“It’s great that we were able to achieve what we did this year,” O’Connor said. “I feel like we’re an up-and-coming team. We’re getting better. This year was great and we’re getting better.”

Taylor O’Connor is majoring in communications at Temple. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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