Irish Sunday Mirror - - STYLE ON SUNDAY - FROM GREG WOODFIELD in Mi­ami

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


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