By Adam Zaki
Published: October 26th, 2016
The Brooklyn College cheerleading team, one of the most successful athletic teams on campus, will welcome in its new head coach Jennifer Aguilera to start the 2016-2017 season. Since the team’s inauguration in 2003-2004, the Bulldogs have been dominant in City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) play, winning ten CUNYAC championships.
Tonika Simmons—former head coach, founder, and the only coach the program has ever known—had resigned in September after 12 years at the reigns of the program, bringing on the change in leadership.
“I have big shoes to fill,” said Aguilera, who is dedicated to continuing the team’s success as the incumbent head coach.
An avid gymnast and member of her high school step team, Aguilera’s experience in cheerleading didn’t begin until college, when she used her skills in high school to make the St. John’s University cheerleading team.
The program has been coached in a National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) style since its inception, which calls for a flashy, modern style of cheer in everything from routines to uniform. But Aguilera comes from a Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) background, which is much more traditional than what the program is used to.
But she isn’t concerned with this difference affecting her ability to coach. “I’ve attended camps and seminars for about ten years,” said Aguilera. “I think I’m well versed in all kinds all college [cheerleading] abilities.”
“I don’t want to make a complete 360 right now,” said Aguilera, when talking about her plans for the program. “I know it’s a very big change, I come from a different background than they’re used to, I want to lean on some of the seniors to [guide] me along with the traditions they had. For them, this is their senior year with a different coach; I know what that’s like.”
After losing three seniors last season, the Bulldogs will welcome in some new faces to the program this year. One of these new athletes is William Head, a freshman from Arkansas. Along with Coach Aguilera, Head will look to learn and continue the BC cheerleading tradition in the same way those before him have.
Two major contributors to last year’s CUNYAC championship were Jose Rodriguez and Nick Trudden. The role of the male cheerleader is vital to competitive programs, as their size, strength, and athleticism allows flexibility in performance. Along with the other demands of cheer, like tumbling, men allow cheerleading routines to be more dynamic.
Trudden, a BC senior, has made the transition to cheerleading relatively quickly since he joined the team last year. A transfer from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Trudden has stepped up has a leader. “From what I’ve seen so far, Nick is definitely a leader for us [moving] forward,” said Aguilera.
With basketball season weeks away, Aguilera and company are diligently preparing for the 2016-2017 season. The team is looking to pursue its sixth consecutive CUNYAC championship. “The goal is continuing to succeed,” said Aguilera. With a combination of experience, passion, and drive, Aguilera hopes to make that goal happen.