From the Gridiron to the Power Grid: BHR Grad Jenna Cloutier '07 is a N.E. Patriots Cheerleader and an Electrical Engineer
Photo of Jenna Cloutier by Taylor Ballantyne
By Judy Bass
When Jenna Cloutier penned the caption of her photo for the Class of 2007 yearbook from Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton, she could not have realized how prophetic her words would be.
Cloutier, of Randolph, wrote under future plans that she wanted to be a New England Patriots cheerleader.
She certainly had the right background. Cloutier was a cheerleader at the Pop Warner level, and she did football and basketball cheerleading at Blue Hills. She was a cheerleader for four years in college as well, where, as a freshman and sophomore, she helped the cheerleading team earn two national championships.
Kathy Manning, the former Blue Hills cheerleading coach, said of Cloutier, “When Jenna was a student /cheerleader at Blue Hills Regional, there were three things that always made her a standout. 1. Her focus and drive to excel at everything she did. She was always a positive role model and leader. She encouraged teammates, friends, and the student body to attain a higher standard. 2. Jenna participated in school life, whether it was in the classroom or on the cheerleading squad, with total enthusiasm and spirit. 3. Jenna's outgoing, very friendly personality made those around her feel comfortable.”
In 2016, Cloutier’s long-cherished dream came true when she was chosen for the elite squad of 34 young women who proudly represent one of the most storied franchises in football history.
“It was a goal of mine since I can remember,” Cloutier, who says she has always been an ardent Patriots fan, said recently. “I just wanted to badly to be on the sidelines [cheering for the team.]”
Today, she combines that career with another one as a union-member electrical engineer for Eversource Energy, formerly known as NStar, where she has been employed for six years.
Her life is certainly hectic, but that is nothing new for this outgoing woman who absolutely loves what she does and knows exactly how to balance all her professional responsibilities.
“People tell me to relax,” Cloutier admits. “I always have so much going on. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Cloutier said she had a strong aptitude for math and science in high school, where she combined training in graphics with rigorous courses from Project Lead the Way, which, according to its web site, offers “pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science” to students from pre-K through grade 12. Cloutier eagerly slogged through digital logic and pre-calculus on her journey to being accepted at every college she applied to. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UMass Dartmouth in 2011.
She was the only female in her electrical engineering class at college, and although it wasn’t easy, she persevered.
Cloutier is currently working on attaining her master’s degree in power systems management from Worcester Polytechnic Institute Online and was awarded a Gateway Scholarship which goes to five outstanding online students from WPI each year. She will graduate in May.
As for being a Pats cheerleader, Cloutier enthuses that it is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that has brought her to three Super Bowls – LI, LII and LIII – as well as to places like children’s hospitals, which she and her colleagues visited in Atlanta last month prior to the Super Bowl.
“You just want to light up their day,” Cloutier said of seeing the kids. “It makes you very humble, very appreciative. It’s emotional. I was once that little girl” who looked up to the Patriots cheerleaders, she recalled, referring to the youngsters who now idolize them.
The community appearances she and the other cheerleaders make mean a great deal to her, she said. They have been to the Visiting Nurse Association, to facilities like The Arbors Assisted Living in Winthrop, where they bring along the Lombardi Trophy that goes to the Super Bowl champs and to Portsmouth International Airport in Pease, New Hampshire, to bid a rousing farewell to troops headed to the Middle East.
Cloutier says the question she gets asked the most is, “Are you a real Patriots cheerleader?”
What she wears to official appearances is a giveaway as to her and the others’ authenticity. Depending on the nature of the gig – whether it’s a grand opening, autograph session, sales meeting, trade show, parade or being at a sports bar, for example – they are always in uniforms adorned with the Pats logo.
The cheerleaders have a wardrobe of eight different outfits, from their signature red, white and blue shorts, V-neck tops and white knee-high boots to costumes that resemble tennis gear or navy leggings worn with red jerseys.
What the Pats cheerleaders do isn’t just about entertaining the crowd at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for home games. There are two practices a week, plus numerous promotional appearances ranging from one or two a month up to five or ten in that span, Cloutier said, and travel to exotic locales like the Bahamas, Aruba or St. Martin to be photographed for a swimsuit calendar.
“It’s a part-time job with a full-time commitment,” Cloutier affirmed.
Becoming a Pats cheerleader is a six-week-long process. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and have a high school diploma or a GED. Dance training “definitely helps,” said Cloutier. They have to be extremely physically fit, but there are no specific requirements for height or weight.
The first step is the preliminary auditions, which are held at either Gillette or Dean College in Franklin. (This year, it’s at Gillette at the Cross Insurance Pavilion.) The auditions are open to anyone, last a full day, and involve multiple cuts. The hopefuls perform their own choreography as well as learn some and perform it.
Up next are the final auditions two weeks later. At this stage, the 400 to 500 people who were in the preliminaries have been winnowed down to about 100. This round involves an interview with Director of Cheerleading Tracy Sormanti, herself a former Pats cheerleader, being evaluated on the performance of two choreographed dances learned at the preliminaries, plus a pageant-style event at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. The audience and the judges see the cheerleading aspirants go through their paces in an opening number and a swimsuit or fitness walk.
After that comes boot camp with approximately 60 ladies who have made it this far. The two-week-long event entails four practices, getting acquainted with each other, and “then the lucky 30-something individuals who made it are announced,” said Cloutier.
She warmly lauds the other cheerleaders, calling them “a sisterhood” comprised of women who are “incredible role models.”
Cloutier herself, despite her modesty, is inspirational too. Not only is she accomplished in two sought-after positions, but she has innovatively used her Blue Hills graphics education in her capacity as an engineer.
“My graphics background has helped tremendously,” Cloutier says. When she has to design a report or some other document and make it visually clear and impactful, her knowledge of programs such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop comes into play. In fact, she is so adept that the higher-ups she works for ask her to give them pointers on how to do things like that.
And of course, being a New England Patriots cheerleader is always close to Cloutier’s heart.
“It’s an incredible experience to put on that uniform,” she said. “I believe 100 per cent that it has made me a better person. It’s literally my dream come true.”