Trinity Valley Community College Head Cheer Coach Khris Franklin says the overall skill set that Torey “T.J.” Ollison possesses rivals that of any freshman in the nation. A recent, prestigious honor bestowed upon Ollison makes statements like that hold a lot of credibility.
Ollison, a 20-year-old kinesiology major from Grand Saline, was named last week to the list of Nfinity Legends selected for 2014. Nfinity is a company that manufactures shoes and other equipment for various sports and activities, including cheerleading. Nfinity picked only 50 athletes for the list from a nationwide pool of nearly 300 applicants.
Nfinity posted its list of selectees on its Facebook page on February 19, saying, “This was the most unbelievable year of videos we have ever had by far. … This was definitely the toughest decision we have ever had to make.” The company said it could have easily selected 75 athletes for the elite list, but ultimately opted to keep the list at 50, as was promised before the competition began.
To apply for the honor, Ollison was required to submit a video showcasing his talents – in his case, “stumbling,” a hybrid skill that combines the more traditional cheer techniques of stunting and tumbling. In his video, which lasts about a minute-and-a-half, Ollison is seen performing an array of gravity-defying techniques – including an incredible double backflip he pulled off at an event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Ollison said he was shocked when he learned he had been selected as a Legend. He got the news from fellow TVCC cheerleaders Robby Carmichael and Cody Durst, who are themselves former Nfinity Legends selectees. Carmichael was the one who told Ollison he should participate in the nationwide competition, and Durst compiled the video that was uploaded to YouTube to be viewed by Nfinity’s selection team.
“When they came in my room and said I had made it, I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’” Ollison said. “It’s a great honor to have, but I want to keep pushing for more. I want to leave a mark not only on the cheer world, but everywhere I step in my future.”
Ollison’s started cheer in seventh grade. He became a member at the Canton-based East Texas Twisters gym, where he said he learned under the guidance of coaches Patrick Whaley and John Hamilton. But Ollison’s background had mostly been in tumbling until he arrived at TVCC, where Franklin worked the young standout into a stumbler.
Franklin said it is difficult to find athletes like Ollison who are elite in every section of cheerleading.
“I venture to say that his overall skill set as a true college freshman rivals that of any other true freshman in the nation,” Franklin said. “His skill set is incredibly valuable, but his leadership, trustworthiness, work ethic and just overall goodness as a young adult is where he is most valuable. This is not to take away from the other members of the team. TVCC Cheer has been very blessed with a really great group of athletes this year – talent-wise and character-wise.”
Ollison said it’s an incredible honor to work under Franklin and represent TVCC as a student-athlete.
“It’s a crazy honor to be on the team here,” he said. “There’s just all these amazing athletes, and we all work so hard. When other teams are being lazy, we’re working. When other teams are sleeping, we’re working, and I’m not scared to work hard enough to get what I want.”
That hard work will be on full display when the TVCC Cheerleaders travel to the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship April 9-13 in Daytona Beach, Fla.