Posted on Feb 25, 2021

Nursing and cheering converge for USF Bull Nurse alumna at Super Bowl LV

Nursing and cheering converge for USF Bull Nurse alumna at Super Bowl LV

The two worlds collided in a spectacular way at Super Bowl LV for Bull Nurse alumna Anastasia Lusnia, BS ’19.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader showed her passion for performing by cheering the Bucs onto the big win. And at the same time, she stood proud as many of her health care peers in the stands were honored for their contributions during the pandemic.

“It’s hard to even describe. The coolest and best takeaway from the day was just how much it really did feel like a home game with all of the energy and enthusiasm for the Bucs,” said Lusnia, who works in the vascular ICU at Tampa General Hospital. “The NFL honored 7,500 health care workers with tickets to attend and so many of my colleagues were there. It was really amazing to have both my worlds in one place.”

Lusnia grew up in western Massachusetts in the city of Easthampton where she danced since age 3.

She said she always knew she wanted to go into the health care field, so she shadowed many nurses and physicians and asked them what they liked and didn’t like about their jobs. She decided to pursue a nursing career but also wanted to continue the dance side of her life.

“I never met a nurse who didn’t rave about the profession,” she said. “And now being an RN myself, I would do the same. It’s a great field to be in because it’s so rewarding. I like it even more than I imagined I would.”

In 2015, she enrolled at USF to pursue both passions. At the College of Nursing, she was in the Upper Division pathway. In the College of The Arts, she studied dance. Lusnia graduated in 2019 with a BS in nursing.

During her senior year at USF, she tried out and made it onto the Tampa Bay Lightning cheerleading squad for the 2018-2019 season. That experience pushed her to try out for the Buccaneers Cheerleaders in May 2020.

But making it on the team also came with challenges. The COVID pandemic restrictions meant initial cheerleading team practices and workouts were on Zoom. By the end of the summer, the squad was eventually able to practice at Raymond James Stadium. But as the season progressed, there was uncertainty as to how it would play out.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a season, for sure. And to think this would be the ultimate outcome is crazy. I don’t think anyone would have predicted this,” she said. “It was just a special, special game and I’m so glad we were able to win. And that so many health care workers were able to be there, too.”

A view from the stands at Super Bowl LV, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida. Photo by L. Alan Todd.

She said even though the Bucs won the Super Bowl, the cheerleading “season” is not over yet. She still has some community events and other appearances to meet fans.

Lusnia said she is grateful and amazed at how her two passions converged this year.

“Being a nurse is so rewarding with the people you get to help and the connections you make,” she said. “And performing has always been a passion for me. [Cheering and nursing] provide two totally different amazing feelings. Maybe that’s what makes it work because one is so different from the other, it’s easy to do both.”

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing