Most cheerleaders and dancers join a team at a young age just looking for a hobby or an afterschool activity. But after years of practicing, conditioning, long game days, and competition weekends, these athletes look back on the hours spent with their teammates and realize that cheer and dance taught them a lot more than just the skills they learned on the mat.
Cheer and dance teaches athletes hard work, dedication, accountability, and many more life lessons that will stick with them long after their days on the sidelines are done.
This summer, Varsity TV is catching up with current and former college athletes, coaches, and staff instructors to find out why they love cheer and dance and to learn about the lessons they learned throughout their career.
Meet Eugene Bodden!
Eugene M. Bodden Jr. is from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and he got started in cheerleading in the 7th grade.
"The more knowledge I gained about cheerleading, the more I fell in love with it," shared Bodden. "I quickly realized how large the industry was, especially the opportunities presented to me to cheer in college."
Bodden attended Penn State University where he cheered from 2009-2014 and received his B.S. in Kinesiology Fitness Studies. He then attended Hofstra University for to get his master's degree in Sports Science, where he also cheered from 2014-2016. At Hofstra, Bodden competed at the UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship and won back-to-back national championship titles.
During his time as an athlete, he also had the opportunity to represent the USA in the first-ever Pan-American Championship in Cali, Colombia where the team brought home the gold!
Eugene Bodden is now Penn State's assistant cheerleading coach and also a Head Instructor for NCA and heading into his 9th year with the company.
Eugene's Favorite Cheer Memory:
Hitting our routine in Orlando to claim Hoftra's 9th National Championship title.
How do you think your time as an athlete has helped you in your current role?
I have been able to see both sides of the mat from being an athlete to now being a coach. Being able to understand both sides has helped me understand cheerleading and better prepare my current and future athletes for life after cheer.
What life lessons do you think you've learned from cheer?
Work hard at all times. Through hard work and perseverance, all goals are possible. Never take anything for granted, because nothing is promised, but with determination and grit dreams can come true.
Why would you encourage someone to try out for cheer?
Cheer requires all aspects of what it takes to be an athlete and a good teammate. From the physical toughness to mental toughness, it shapes you into becoming a person with great moral standards and gives you the ability to transfer athletic goals and lessons into life after cheerleading.
If you could give a young athlete one piece of advice, what would it be?
My favorite quote that got me through some of my toughest times is "Don't Quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion." by Muhammed Ali.
"Not all aspects of sports require you to be a champion, but if you take it day by day and try to be better than you were yesterday that's a win in my book."