Nicky Bruno, Coordinator & Head Cheerleading Coach
Nicky was named the Spirit Coordinator and Head Cheerleading Coach here at UConn in May of 2015. Nicky moved from Florida, but is originally from New Jersey where she trained as a gymnast and was also a member of the all star competitive cheerleading program at Star Athletics. Nicky has been involved in all star and collegiate cheerleading as both a participant and coach for the past 14 years. In 2008, she graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Administration and a Minor in Community Health. Nicky was also a member of the cheerleading team for all four years. During this time, she won three NCA Collegiate Small Coed National Championship titles and two International Large Coed World Championships with Gymtyme All Stars located in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to receiving her bachelor’s degree at the University of Louisville, she completed her Master’s Degree in Collaborative Education at Mercer University in Georgia, where she was the All Girl/Small Coed Head Game Day and Competitive Cheerleading Coach from 2010-2014. She is excited to be a new member of the Spirit, Pride, and Traditions Program and represent the University of Connecticut. Go Huskies!
Samantha Breault, Assistant Cheerleading Coach
Samantha is originally from Niskayuna, NY where she became a cheerleader at the age of six. She was a member of Niskayuna Pop Warner and went on to cheer at Niskayuna High School on their Varsity team. Samantha also trained and competed with Cheer Intensity All-Stars from 2006-2011. In 2011, she attended The Cheerleading Worlds competition in Orlando, FL with her international level 5 team from Cheer Intensity. Samantha attended Syracuse University and was a member of their spirit program for all four years. She was one of the captains of the team for the 2014-2015 season. Samantha cheered at football and basketball games from 2011-2015 and competed at UCA College Nationals from 2012-2015. Samantha graduated Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in Political Science. Since 2011, Samantha has been a part of the National Cheerleaders Association staff. She travels to instruct camps throughout the year ranging from youth to college level. As of January 2015, Samantha was chosen to become a Head Instructor for the company. Samantha was hired as the Assistant Cheerleading coach at UConn in August 2015.
Kristen Schmalbach, Dance Coach
Kristen is originally from Ivyland, PA where she trained and competed since the age of 6 at Elite Dance Academy in Pennsylvania. She has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Tap and Hip Hop. She was a proud member of the UConn Dance Team for four years, and was honored to be named captain for two of them. During her time at UConn Kristen was chosen for special performances such as attending the Monsters of Hip Hop Convention in 2012. Kristen accepted a position on the UConn Dance Team coaching staff as an assistant coach in August 2012. She has assisted choreographers while working on routines across the U.S. for prestigious college, high school, and all star dance teams. In May of 2013, Kristen graduated from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education’s Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s (IB/M) program with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a Math concentration. She also holds a Masters of Arts, Curriculum, and Instruction. When not coaching, Kristen is in the classroom teaching Kindergarten at Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy in North Windham.
Amy Thees, Dance Coach
Amy is originally from New Jersey where she grew up dancing and teaching at her family’s owned and operated dance studio. Since the age of 9, she has worked as a dance model and has appeared in many dance featured print such as Curtain Call Magazine. Amy has taught and coached at various dance studios around Connecticut in the styles of hiphop, jazz, and contemporary lyrical for children ages 7-18. Amy has been a member of a variety of professional cheerleading and dance organizations including the UFL Hartford Colonials and the WNBA CT Sun Solar Power Dance Team. She is a 4-year veteran of the UConn dance team having served her senior year as captain. Upon graduating from UConn with a bachelor of science in medical laboratory science, Amy went on to complete a master of health science at Quinnipiac University while working at Hartford and Bristol hospitals as a microbiologist. Amy is currently working on her doctor of philosophy degree in molecular and cell biology here at UConn.