HOLLY LIVES DREAM
Holly, the first British cheerleader in America’s NFL, loves her job, works desperately hard at it and is living the dream.
But the smile hides a big regret – that mum Judy, who made her dance dream possible, is not there to share her joy.
Judy died from pancreatic cancer at 55, before Holly hit the big time with the Miami Dolphins.
With a new season on the way, Holly opened her heart about her mum – and revealed the cheerleaders’ tough regime of fitness sessions and boot camps four times a week.
She said: “Mum passed away 18 months before I went to Miami, but I have a feeling she knows where I am. She was utterly selfless and helped me in any way she could.
“Mum always pushed me to do what I loved. She took on extra work to pay for more lessons. She was driving me backwards and forwards to classes, making sacrifices to pay for them. She was incredible – and loads of fun.”
Devoted Judy had a variety of jobs that included hospital management and administration – and at one time was a magician’s assistant.
Holly is keen to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and paid tribute to the “amazing” Weston Hospice in Weston-super-mare, which cared for Judy. Inheriting her mother’s drive and determination, it was inevitable Holly would find success.
And watching her on the training ground you see just what guts it took to get this far. Holly and 35 fellow cheerleaders face fitness sessions that include:
A warm-up run, five times around the ground.
A series of sprints across the pitch and back.
Bear crawls, with only elbows and feet touching the ground.
Twenty-four high kicks – repeated 10 times.
Running through demanding dance routines. And finishing with 150 sit-ups. Petite Holly said: “It’s incredibly tough, just like a being in the Army. This is our basic training. Practise normally lasts three hours and we do it three to four times a week.
“Before boot camp we have to run two miles in under 18 minutes after circuit training with press-ups and sit-ups, sprints and agility tests.
“It’s kind of a competition. If you can’t do the fitness things you won’t be able to get through a game.”
Her first year saw her perform at As young dancer all 10 home games and Holly, a dancer and model, will be an ever present again this season at the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.
Life in Florida is a far cry from her upbringing in the village of Congresbury, Somerset, with sister Zoe, now 21, and brother Aaron, 25. She thanks her siblings for the sacrifices they made to help her succeed.
Holly – whose dad, Russell, died eight years ago – said: “Congresbury is a tiny village and I loved it. I was always playing outside, really happy.
“I started doing two dance lessons a week when I was 10 and by 12 or 13 I was doing six lessons a week.
“It was hard, I don’t come from a With brother Aaron in arms of mum and dad
Mum died but I have a feeling that she knows where I am
wealthy family. But even as a child I had a desire to grow and develop myself. My mum saw that in me.”
Holly left school at 16 for dance training in Cambridge and London. By 19, she landed a dance role in Mexico and stayed for six years.
She also had a part as a dancer in 2015 Bond movie Spectre.
Holly got her NFL break when the Dolphins became the first team to hold international auditions. The pay is basic but it can be a stepping stone to greater things.
More than 800 girls attended regional auditions.
After days of dancing and interviews Holly made the final round.
A group of 41 was whittled down to 36 after a month’s training. And
FUTURE STAR GROWING UP