A decade ago, marching into the crowded football stadium at the University of Nebraska, the Colclasure family could be spotted cheering for the Cornhuskers from the stands. In these moments, the charisma and advanced tumbling skills of cheerleaders caught Coppell senior Tenley and freshman Tali Colclasure’s young eyes.
“We were always into football and I would see the cheerleaders on the sidelines, so I thought that it would be fun to do it too,” Tali said.
Eleven years later and 622 miles away, they too would be tumbling and chanting at football games – not in the stands, but footsteps from the field – as part of the Coppell cheer team.
The cheer team is bonded through community activity and football game performances, but Tenley and Tali – identically throwing round-off back handsprings on the 20-yard line – are connected by blood.
“She’s my sister, but she’s also my teammate,” Tenley said. “I see her everyday at school and getting to practice with her is different. It has created a strong bond and I’m glad that she did it. A lot of people don’t ever get to experience having a sibling on their team.”
However, their journeys to the Coppell cheer team are distinctly different.
Tenley has been a competitive gymnast since age 6, while Tali ran track and played soccer and basketball at Coppell Middle School North and continues to play club volleyball for Texas Advantage (TAV).
The Colclasure family moved from Lincoln, Neb. to Coppell for Tenley to attend Texas Dreams Gymnastics, owned by Olympic Bronze Medalist Kim-Zmeskal Burdette and Chris Burdette, and moved up to a level 10 gymnast at age 11.
“I needed a better gym to go to to reach my goals, so as a family, we made the decision to move to [Coppell],” Tenley said.
After moving to Coppell, Tenley practiced gymnastics six hours a day, at the gym 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and often returned for private lessons from 4:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Texas Dreams Gymnastics while doing online school at K-12 and I University in between. During this time, she went on official visits to colleges such as Alabama and Auburn for their gymnastic programs.
But the negative effects of practicing started to show. Tenley suffered from multiple back, arm, finger and ankle injuries.
When Tenley was 15, she decided to switch to cheer. She was able to incorporate her skills acquired from gymnastics into her cheerleading tumbling sequences.
“I was always in pain. I got to a point where I decided I could do something else that I enjoyed more,” Tenley said. “I needed to make a change that was going to make me happy. I saw cheer and thought that would be the best fit. I wanted to do it more than gymnastics. It was really calling my name.”
Tenely was able to transition easily from gymnastics to cheer due to her advanced tumbling and flexibility.
“It was a natural transition,” mother Kerri Colclasure said. “They tumble at pep rallies and at games. She loves people and she’s a motivator. She’s in her element with the team and encouraging other people.”
Unlike Tenley’s transition to cheer from gymnastics, Tali needed to acquire tumbling skills – a roundoff back handspring and back handspring – that were completely new to her.
“When Tali came to us after volleyball season and said she was going to try out, it was a big shock because she didn’t have any tumbling experience, but she knew she wanted to be a part of what Tenley did, the team, the camaraderie and cheering for a sport that [our family] loves,” Mrs. Colclasure said.
Tali pushed herself, mastering the skills needed for tryouts. She trained at Texas Dreams Gymnastics and Spirit of Texas.
Tenley helped Tali train for cheerleading tryouts starting last January.
“As soon as I knew I was going to do cheer, I started taking tumbling classes,” Tali said. “It was a bit nerve-racking because there was no guarantee of making the team, even with my sister’s help.”
Despite their differences, the Colclasure sisters favorite part about cheerleading is the energy at football games and making an impact through the community service opportunities cheer provides, such as CCA (Coppell Cheer Association) and Cheer Bingo.
Tenley and Tali have come together despite their differences in athletic journeys, a multi-sport athlete and a retired level 10 gymnast to come together and cheer at CHS as sisters and teammates.
“Few people get to do sports with their sister, and especially with how close they are, it’s a unique experience,” Mrs. Colclasure said. “I’m excited for them to watch this year and see how it unfolds.”
This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on October 1, 2020.