By Owen Russell
On Feb. 23, Brooklyn College welcomed its new athletics director, Erik Smiles, who comes to Brooklyn with years of experience in athletics and a passion to elevate the university’s student athletes.
Smiles joins the Bulldog community after working at Hostos Community College, Long Island University Post, and Farmingdale State in a variety of positions. At Hostos, Smiles revamped the athletic department, in part by instituting a student advisory program. He also oversaw the addition of a women’s volleyball program and a men’s and women’s cross country/track program.
Coming to Brooklyn, Smiles is excited for the future. “There were so many things that drew me to Brooklyn College,” Smiles told the Vanguard.
Among the draws, Smiles acknowledged the academic reputation, campus, and even alumni, but he mainly pointed to the college’s commitment to its athletes.
“In my first few weeks here I have witnessed first-hand how special our student athletes are and I have been really impressed by our coaches’ dedication to their teams,” Smiles added.
Smiles’ commitment to his athletes comes from years as a student athlete himself. As an undergraduate, Smiles played basketball for the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
“I think being a former student athlete and coach has given me great experience being in the shoes of those I get to work with every day,” Smiles explained. “I have been through all the highs and lows of college athletics… This has given me a great perspective of what our student athletes go through on a day-to-day basis and I hope I am on the path of being an expert on helping them through those tough times while allowing them to enjoy the great times.”
After being helmed by Bruce Filosa for four decades, the Brooklyn College athletics department is now under the purview of Erik Smiles. He exudes a passion for the athletes, coaches, and fans that he serves. He’s been working for an opportunity like this for quite some time, and has learned through his years of experience as an athlete and coach.
“Growing up my biggest roles models were always my coaches, after my parents,” Smiles said. “So just knowing what my former coaches did for me in terms of helping me through life and giving me a great experience as a student athlete at both the scholastic and collegiate levels I just knew I wanted to give back and do that for kids like me.”
All athletes, current and prospective, should feel secure knowing that Smiles will be looking out for them hopefully for many years to come. He is committed to turning Brooklyn College into a place where students can better themselves through athletics.
“I love helping people grow, I love competition, and I love building something special so what better place is there to do all three than a career in college athletics,” he said.