Professional Cheerleaders Who Have Turned To Very Normal Careers

Professional cheerleaders are admired for their beauty, charisma, and peppy personalities. However, few fans truly understand the intense physical endurance and brainpower it takes to earn a highly-coveted professional cheerleading role. Oftentimes, cheer stars go on to pursue unimaginable careers after retiring from the sport. Some even balance these full-time jobs with their demanding cheer duties. 

Cheerleading is so much more than what happens on the sidelines. Money revealed that team members must adhere to strict guidelines and maintain pristine public images upheld by charity work and numerous community appearances — and they're not always fairly compensated for these tasks. Cheerleaders are paid for their work during games, but not for all of the other duties they are expected to fulfill.

This is why some former cheerleaders use the sport to advance their professional careers. Pro cheerleading is not a sustainable career, but these women use the skills they learned in the stadium, and their impressive educational backgrounds, to obtain incredibly prestigious jobs.

These professional cheerleaders turned to very adult careers.

Dr. Regina Bailey does it all

Former Washington Football Team cheerleader Regina Bailey has had nearly as many careers as Barbie. She is a doctor, lawyer, writer, fitness coach, and has even competed in beauty pageants. Her career path post-cheerleading is one many NFL fans might not expect. After all, how could these stunning women transition from choreographing cheer routines and shaking colorful pompoms to saving lives and winning court cases?

It turns out Bailey's double life is common among former cheerleaders. For that reason, the doctor is an advocate for using professional cheer as a stepping stone for other careers. She even wrote a piece for The New York Times on her experience changing professional paths and why cheer was an imperative part of the process. "Although cheering wasn't my career, I believe it helped me professionally. I developed a great sense of self-confidence and fearlessness ... there is not too much that makes me nervous," she shared in part.

She said most professional cheerleaders have to maintain outside jobs because the industry does not pay these women a livable wage. Dr. Bailey wrote in her closing statement, "Professional cheerleading opens many doors, offering a bridge to other careers. That said, I think cheerleaders should be paid for the time they spend working on and off the field." As for where former NFL cheerleader Regina Bailey is now, her Instagram reveals she is currently working as an ER doctor. She's also a lawyer. Her photos suggest she is working hard balancing motherhood and saving lives during a pandemic.

Tiffany Monroe-Unsworth teaches physical education

Some professional cheerleaders go on to pursue careers that align with much of the work they did on their squads. This opens up many opportunities, as professional cheerleaders perform duties far beyond what we see on the sidelines. They have volunteer and community work obligations, they speak at events, and so much more (via Money). So, they gain tons of experience that is applicable elsewhere. Tiffany Monroe-Unsworth is a former NFL cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles who took advantage of what she learned on the sidelines to pursue a career in physical education.

According to Money, Monroe-Unsworth cheered for the team from 2006 to 2014, commuting an hour each way to cheer. Following her departure, she focused on her job as a physical education teacher in New Jersey. She actually balanced both teaching and cheerleading during her career and was even awarded the honor of representing her team at the 2011 Pro Bowl, per The Press of Atlantic City. This is quite an impressive accomplishment, given how hectic her busy schedule was. She talked about managing both careers in an interview with Money. "I really felt like I had two full-time jobs during the season, and our season never really ended," Monroe-Unsworth said. This teacher proves that professional cheerleading opens up many doors.

Rachel Gill works for D Magazine

Once a cheerleader for the NFL's Washington Football Team, Rachel Gill now works as Chief of Staff for D Magazine, where she has written several pieces on CMT's "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team." The show follows prospective Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders as they try to earn coveted positions on the famous team. Gill's expert insight helps unpack what really goes on behind the scenes of the show.

For example, she wrote a piece on Episodes 8 and 9 of the series and let readers in on what cheerleaders do throughout football games. "Not only do cheerleaders perform on the field before the game and at the end of each quarter, but we are also constantly doing so while on the sidelines during gameplay, too. That's when the real creativity comes in," she shared (via D Magazine). Apparently, cheerleaders come up with sideline routines on the spot (only on-field routines are planned in advance). Who would've known?

Aside from her insightful "Making The Team" summaries and position as D Magazine's Chief of Staff, Gill isn't afraid to defend her former team. She sat down for a "Today" show interview to address claims that the Washington Football Team cheerleaders were pressured into posing topless for a photo shoot. "We always have the option to say no. We are never forced or told to do something we don't want to do," Gill said during the interview. She did clarify that she "can't speak" for the women who originally made the allegations. 

Stacy Keibler became a pro wrestler

Although Stacy Keibler began her career as a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens, she is better known for her time with WWE as a professional wrestler. She made a lasting impression in the ring and earned a prestigious spot in the wrestling world after gaining recognition for winning World Championship Wrestling's "Nitro Girl" search, per WWE.

After retiring from WWE, Keibler dabbled in acting. The former cheerleader's IMDb indicates that she earned minor roles in a few TV shows, including "How I Met Your Mother" and "Pysch." However, it was her time on "Dancing With the Stars" that put her back into the spotlight after leaving wrestling. She finished out the show in third place after garnering new fans throughout her ballroom dancing journey (via WWE). Keibler's relationship and highly-publicized breakup with actor George Clooney also brought in quite a bit of media attention, per People.

By the time IGN interviewed Keibler in 2007, she had moved on from wrestling to her other pursuits in entertainment. Keibler told the outlet, "You say the word 'wrestler,' whether it's a male or female, and I feel that people are thinking big, muscular, meathead. Kind of like a mean personality." The former wrestler explained that being on "Dancing with the Stars" "was a good opportunity to smash those stereotypes."

Inside Edition's Lisa Guerrero got her start as a cheerleader

Lisa Guerrero quickly became a household name upon landing her position on "Inside Edition." The journalist and TV personality went through quite a few career changes before earning that role. Guerrero's previous job as a professional cheerleader for the NFL's LA Rams might be the most shocking of her past gigs. The former cheerleader worked in modeling and acting in the early stages of her career. She is full of surprises, including her beautiful mosaic artwork (as seen on her website).

While Guerrero's path to post-cheerleading success may seem glamorous, her beauty-focused job history didn't exactly help her come across as a serious reporter in the journalism field. She talked to the New York Post about being stereotyped and labeled as just a pretty face while working for "Monday Night Football." The article mentions how her first on-camera mistake brought into question her understanding of sports. While interviewing Washington's Patrick Ramsey, she mistakenly referred to Laveranues Coles as his ex-teammate. Of course, this only further fueled angry watchers' presumptions about the then-sports commentator.

Although Guerrero received criticism at the start of her TV career, both the good and bad led her to "Inside Edition," where she now works as an investigative journalist. She described her current job in the New York Post interview. "Part of what I do now is to physically go out and confront people," the TV personality shared. "A lot of them are bad people, criminal and dangerous." It looks like Guerrero's doubters couldn't have been more wrong, because she is now a highly-respected journalist holding over 30 awards for her work. 

Nicol Bush is a pediatric urology surgeon

Nicol Bush embarked on a drastic transition when she left the Dallas Cowboys' cheer team to pursue a career as a pediatric urologist. According to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, Bush enrolled in medical school after cheering for the team for two years during the 1990s. She detailed the similarities between the two contrasting career paths. "When you think about any sort of performance at the level of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, we practice for something over and over and over until it was perfect," the doctor explained. "So when I go into operating room, it's the exact same thing" (via NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth).

So, how did Bush decide to go into the medical field after professional cheerleading? According to the multitalented mom, the decision did not happen overnight. "I decided in high school that I wanted to help people by becoming a doctor," Bush shared in an interview with Science Cheerleaders. She also elaborated on her daily job duties. "There are about 350 pediatric urologists in the United States," Bush revealed. "We help when there are problems with the kidneys, bladder, and girl and boy private parts." This former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader is challenging stereotypes through her incredible accomplishments.

Gabriela Bren balances nursing and cheerleading

Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader Gabriela Bren does it all. The orthopaedic trauma nurse auditioned for a spot on the team while working long hours in a hospital. She credits her support system with helping her balance such demanding schedules. "Cheerleading can take up a lot of time, but all of my coworkers have been super encouraging," the nurse explained in an interview with Penn Medicine News. "Whether I need to switch my shift, or if I need to work a specific weekend so I can be at a game, I can always count on them."

Bren also shared that she'd been dancing since age two, which influenced her to pursue cheerleading. She only temporarily stepped away from dance while in nursing school. The Philadelphia Eagles cheer auditions were her opportunity to get back into dancing. During the audition, she opened up about her father's battle with prostate cancer "I gave a short speech about my job as an orthopaedic trauma nurse and about how my dad's experience being treated for prostate cancer at Penn inspired me to pursue nursing," she said. "It was nerve-wracking, but I made it!"

In 2020, she spoke about working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing her cheerleading career. "I get to see these patients face-to-face and see how harsh it [COVID-19] is on the human body. It's eye-opening," Bren revealed (via Philadelphia Eagles). Like many former professional cheerleaders, Bren rightfully earned her spot in the medical field, and she saves lives during the pandemic.

The Office's Phyllis Smith was an NFL cheerleader

Phyllis Smith is best known for her role as Phyllis Lapin-Vance in "The Office," but the actor began her career as an NFL cheerleader. In an interview with Slate, she explained how her love for dancing led her to pursue burlesque and cheer. "In my heart, my first desire was to be a dancer," Smith shared. "I always wanted to dance and I danced from the time I was 7 till I was well into my 30s. I did ballet, tap, jazz, modern, I taught dance here in my hometown of St. Louis." She clarified that the burlesque dancing she did was "not risqué."

Although her burlesque costumes were not revealing, the St. Louis Cardinals' flirty cheer uniforms seemingly drew Smith to the team. "I was at the height of my glory, because I loved dancing and wearing the boots and the hot pants, the tied-up shirts, looking really hot," she told Slate. Smith joked that she also took the opportunity to talk to a few of the players. "My dad used to have season tickets, so I was flirting with the guys on the sidelines as much as I could," the actor admitted. "The organizations make sure that the cheerleaders and the players have minimal contact, but that's what you try to do." 

Aside from cheerleading and burlesque, Smith's acting career has also taken some interesting turns. According to Yahoo! Entertainment, the actor started out as a casting director for "The Office" before a role was created for her on the show.

Bonnie-Jill Laflin became an NBA scout

After cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, Bonnie-Jill Laflin made history as the first female NBA scout, per People. She is an accomplished industry expert with years of experience in sports working as a broadcaster. By the time she earned her spot on the Dallas Cowboys cheer team, she had already cheered for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Golden State Warriors (via VH1 News). 

Laflin's impressive and unexpected career path landed her a role on the reality TV show "Basketball Wives" in 2017. The former cheerleading star spoke on her transition into reality TV in an interview with People. "I decided to go on ['Basketball Wives'] because I wanted to use this ... platform to showcase empowering women. They wanted me to come on [the] show so that it can go on in a different direction," she said.

Laflin's lengthy resume seemingly has no end; she also spent time acting. A "Baywatch" casting director scouted the brunette beauty after seeing her in a Dallas Cowboys cheerleading calendar. "They had me come in for an audition," Laflin said of her experience after being scouted for the show. "Besides just reading they had me try on the red one-piece [bathing suit] to see how I looked in it" (via VH1 News).

Carole Mazer is an ER nurse

Emergency room nurse Carole Mazer is a former Las Vegas Raiders cheerleader. The sport teaches a level of determination and perseverance that likely helps Mazer through the difficult days of working as a nurse during a pandemic. After all, the process of becoming an NFL cheerleader is extensive and the job itself is extremely demanding. Money revealed that auditions can span an entire week. Additionally, cheerleaders must master time management for their expected engagements.

Cheerleaders likely pick up versatile skills while learning how to juggle all of these responsibilities at once. In an "Inside Edition" clip, former Raiderette Carole Mazer can be seen putting her physical endurance and perseverance to use while working as a nurse. 

She is pictured doing the splits in her nursing scrubs. Perhaps Mazer's cheerleading background helps her remain in good spirits while fighting to save lives. "You can take me off the field but you can't take the cheerleader out of me," Mazer told "Inside Edition." The NFL Cheer Alumni Twitter proudly retweeted Mazer's interview with "Inside Edition," writing, "Cheers to our Frontline NFL Alumni CheerLEADER Heroes!"

DiAnne Davis is a dermatologist

Former New Orleans Saints cheerleader DiAnne Davis is a dermatologist and surgeon. Davis found time to try out for the team during a brief break in her impressive educational career. According to Paper City magazine, she took time after graduating from Alabama's Tuskegee University to join the New Orleans Saints' cheer team.

Davis received many accolades during her studies, including graduating summa cum laude from Tuskegee and winning the Walter F. Rosen Award for Outstanding Student in Dermatology upon graduating from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Davis is especially interested in how laser technology in dermatology interacts with diverse skin tones. "My interest peaked with lasers and particularly with skin color because we have more sensitive skin, and there are not as many lasers that we can use on our skin," she told Paper City. According to the doctor's Twitter account, she is very active in the online dermatology community.

Kiana Tom is a fitness guru

Kiana Tom is best known for her fitness show "Kiana's Flex Appeal." The ESPN hit was the network's top-rated fitness show, according to Tom's website. This was not her only hit ESPN gig. The fitness TV show host shared a Facebook post in remembrance of her time as a cast member on the workout series "Body Shaping." This stint marked the start of her career in fitness TV.

Tom was a professional cheerleader for the Raiders before both of these opportunities came along. She discussed one of her cheerleading accomplishments on her website. "While cheering for the NFL as a Raiders Cheerleader, I was one of 10 cheerleaders (of the 48 cheerleaders on the squad) to travel with the Team for the American Football Game at Yokohamo Stadium," she shared. Tom went on to pursue entrepreneurship, hosting her own virtual workout classes and helping clients with their fitness goals. Her LinkedIn details many of these accomplishments.

Leah Van Dale became a WWE star

Leah Van Dale, better known as "Carmella" by WWE fans, was once a Laker girl and cheerleader for the New England Patriots. The wrestling star talked about how she landed a spot on the New England Patriots' cheer team in an interview with WWE on FOX. She explained that she took a chance when she auditioned in college. "I was like, 'I'm just gonna try out for the New England Patriots, and I just on a whim went, tried out, and ended up making it," the former cheerleader said.

Van Dale has made a name for herself in women's wrestling over the years. According to her WWE bio, she won a SmackDown Women's Championship and the Women's Money in the Bank Match. Her accomplishments don't end there; she is also a business owner. Her Capa Cagna Wine brand is meant to speak to women's confidence. "It's the whole vibe of the wine: embracing who you are and your inner confidence," Van Dale told Wine Spectator. "Find your inner Capa Cagna and be the confident and strong, powerful woman every woman deserves to be." The brand's website stresses that the affordably-priced wine's creator is no "wine snob." Perhaps Van Dale's down-to-earth business approach contributed to her post-cheerleading success.

Anastasia Lusnia is an RN

Anastasia Lusnia balanced her hectic nursing schedule with her professional cheerleading duties for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Lusnia is a major NFL fan, so earning a spot as an NFL cheerleader must have been a dream come true. The Massachusetts native faced unexpected challenges in both cheer and nursing when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Cheerleading auditions were virtual for months, which meant Lusnia had to wait quite some time before she could get out on the Buccaneers field. "This was a challenge that I've never faced before. It was tough as a rookie because I didn't know anyone," she said of attending practices over Zoom calls (via The Reminder). She also spoke on the uncertainty of when the team would no longer be virtual. "It's been a roller coaster of a ride," Lusnia told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. "We've been just kind of living day by day. We never really knew if we were going to be able to cheer or if there were ever going to be fans."

Along with adjusting to virtual cheerleading, she also faced serious challenges working as a nurse in the midst of a pandemic. Still, Lusnia managed to balance both careers and maintain a positive outlook. "That's one of the things when discovering this whole professional cheerleading world is you can have a full-time job and cheer for a professional sports team," she said to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. "It's an amazing way to continue (dancing)."