Talia Russell took over as head coach of the Hilltopper cheer team in January 2015. She is also the fan promotions and engagement coordinator, and oversees Topper, the mascot.
In the 2016-17 season, Russell took the cheer team to their first appearance at UCA Nationals in program history. The Hilltoppers qualified for finals and finished seventh in the nation. Under Russell the cheer team also performed at the Heartland Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
In the 2015–2016 season, Russell led the cheer team to two competition performance exhibitions at Texas State University, including the UCA High School and Regional competitions. The cheer team also travled to Tulsa, Okla., in March to support the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the Heartland Conference Tournament.
Prior to arriving on the hilltop, Russell spent one season as assistant cheer coach at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. At Kutztown, an NCAA DII institution, Russell was also a compliance intern within the athletic department.
As an undergraduate student at Kutztown, she was a member of the cheerleading squad for four years. While a cheerleader for the Golden Bears, Russell was the team captain her senior season in which her squad finished fourth nationally at the UCA College Cheerleading Championships for the Division I All-Girl Division. She helped lead Kutztown to four top-10 finishes at the UCA Nationals during her time.
Russell was also an assistant varsity and head junior varsity coach for Exeter Township High School in 2014. She has also been a cheer instructor and competition judge for Varsity Brands, Inc., for the last four years.
Russell graduated from Kutztown in 2013 with a BS in Leisure and Sport Studies with an emphasis in Athletic Administration and Coaching; she graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Education in Sport Management from Millersville University (Pa.) in 2014.