It’s been four months since the Keene State College (KSC) cheerleading team has had a head coach.
After several months of searching, Keene State’s new cheerleader coach is Tiffany Leonard, who started May 1 .
She currently works at Keene High School as an assistant cheerleading coach and graduated from Keene High as well.
KSC Director of Athletics and Recreation Kristene Kelly said, “I wanted to take some time just being a new athletic director to really evaluate the program, see where we are because I didn’t want to just rush in getting a coach.”
She continued, “I knew there was a need to have one [a cheerleading coach], but just not as intensive at that point. I went and evaluated the program, spoke with a lot of the young ladies, see where the need was and we went ahead and got the position posted and advertised and went from there.”
Kelly explained how Keene wanted somebody to believe in the academic and social development of the student athletes, meaning the cheerleaders aren’t only committed to the team but also committed to being students as well.
“So understanding the time commitment involved and sometimes cheerleading can put pressure as far as practices getting ready for games and getting ready for their competition. So, I was looking for somebody who embodied all of that, and who embodied community service,” Kelly said.
There was a small search committee that consisted of the assistant cheer coach, cheer advisor, senior women administrator and KSC senior Amber LeBlanc.
There were four applicants in total. They sent out resumes to everyone who is on the team to keep them informed.
Leonard’s experience in Keene Knights’ Youth Program was a huge asset to her application. She was the head coach of Keene Knights Youth Spirit Cheer and helped them place second back in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, her team won the state championship.
She also helped rebuild the high school’s program from a non-competitive team to placing sixth in the Fall Division II State competition.
“I think the college will love her. She’s about discipline, but she’s very down to earth. She’s embedded in the Keene community, she graduated from Keene High so she’s very local. She believes in cheerleading and developing the total cheerleader and I think she will do a fantastic job,” said Kelly.
Leonard is already starting to recruit for next fall.
She’s very excited to be coaching at this level, explained Kelly.
“I think you’ll see great things out of Tiffany. She’s very positive and upbeat, but you’ll see a lot of discipline as well from her, a lot of teaching, probably a lot of new skills and enhancing a lot of fundamentals skills,” said Kelly.
One of the main things that stood out was how Leonard wanted to have the cheer team involved in community service.
“One of her main things that really sold me on her too was how much she wanted to make sure Keene State College and our cheerleading program was involved in the community and trying to find ways for our cheerleaders to work with the high schoolers and work with the youth programs. She was really into the community portion of things and recognizing that Keene state is a part of the greater Keene community and we want to continue to ensure our student athletes are a part of it,” said Kelly.
Adriana Sanchez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org