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From cheerleader to cheerleading coach, Tinklenberg is happy to remain in southwest Minnesota

Tinklenberg is head cheerleading coach at Southwest Minnesota Christian High School in Edgerton.

Southwest Minnesota Christian's head cheerleading coach Tricia Tinklenberg went from cheerleading in high school to teaching cheerleading to young women for more than 20 years in Edgerton.
Southwest Minnesota Christian's head cheerleading coach Tricia Tinklenberg went from cheerleading in high school to teaching cheerleading to young women for more than 20 years in Edgerton.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

EDGERTON — Some 30 years ago, Tricia (Buys) Tinklenberg was a teenager from rural Chandler who was in the Twin Cities for a Girls State function.

Then the terrible tornado tore through her hometown.

“We saw it on the news, tried to call home and of course couldn’t get a response. I remember there was a little bit of panic,” she recalled.

The twister changed the history of Chandler, of course, damaging homes and businesses and marking the end of the school district that included Lake Wilson.

It also sent Tricia’s career path into a whirlwind, and she’s thankful for that.

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“If not for the tornado, I wouldn’t have met my husband and I wouldn’t be coaching cheerleading at Southwest (Minnesota Christian High),” she said. “It’s hard to say where I would be.”

For nearly a quarter-century, Tinklenberg has been arguably Edgerton’s foremost fan. She’s a dedicated cheerleading coach at Southwest Christian — a likable leader for hundreds of girls who provide acclaim for their hometown.

For certain, Tinklenberg is one who believes in being of good cheer. And it shows.

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She laughs easily and often when describing her life, which includes a family, a full-time job in Pipestone and a full-time gig as a cheer coach. Following the devastating 1992 tornado, Tinklenberg graduated from Edgerton Public High. Now she’s contributing in a meaningful way to the outstanding sports traditions at Southwest Christian High.

“I did not plan to be coaching this long,” said Tinklenberg, in her 23rd season with the cheer teams. “I tried to step away 10 or 15 years ago. But it wasn’t meant to be, and here I still am.

“This past year was the first time I had a second-generation girl, where I’m coaching one of my cheerleader’s daughters.”

She laughs.

A cheerleader in high school, first at C-LW High and later at Edgerton Public, she also considered attending Murray County Central, where her father was a custodian for years. She was on the student council at C-LW that helped name the new MCC mascot, and even tried out as a Rebel cheerleader before officially transferring to the Slayton school.

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Now she’s an Edgerton advocate through and through.

“This is a great place to raise a family and a great place to live,” she said. “We have a great community. We perform a lot with the Edgerton Public cheerleaders. Christian school or public school, it doesn’t matter. We’re all on the same page.

“Everybody just wants to see Edgerton thrive. We want a great Main Street, we want great schools for our kids. We want something to be proud of. And we have it.”

There are only 120 students in grades 9-12 at Southwest Christian. This winter the school had outstanding boys and girls basketball programs, and fine cheerleading squads.

Southwest Minnesota Christian Cheerleaders and head coach (from left to right), Taylor DeBoer, Camdyn Rozeboom, Elizabeth Tinklenberg, coach Tricia Tinklenberg, Tya Van Essen, Vivian Dyk and Alexia Vander Pol at the Sub-Section 3A South boys basketball tournament play round 3 against Westbrook-Walnut Grove in Worthington.
Southwest Minnesota Christian cheerleaders Taylor DeBoer, Camdyn Rozeboom, Elizabeth Tinklenberg, head coach Tricia Tinklenberg, Tya Van Essen, Vivian Dyk and Alexia Vander Pol pose for a photo during the Sub-Section 3A South boys basketball tournament recently in Worthington. Tim Middagh / The Globe
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“My girls want to be part of the action,” Tinklenberg said. “And we have it. It’s a testament to the commitment of our students.”

There are three different cheer teams at Southwest Christian, for A, B and C squads.

“We practice every day,” Tinklenberg said.

And cheerleading these days is an especially athletic endeavor.

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“There are cheerleading scholarships available from colleges that range from $3,000 to $8,000 per year,” Tricia says. “We try to make sure our girls can qualify for those.”

That means hard work.

“Sometimes we stay in the gym later than the basketball team,” she said. “We condition, we jump, we tumble, we stunt, we dance ... It’s the full package.”

The teams cheer for all boys and girls basketball home games. During tournament season the teams travel to places such as Worthington, Marshall and beyond.

She says the southwest Minnesota area fits her — and vice versa.

“I’m from here and I haven’t left,” said Tinklenberg, who has had full-time jobs in both Worthington and Pipestone. “I think this area has much to offer.”

Not even the winters, she said, are a reason to leave.

“That’s one of the nicest things about coaching,” Tinklenberg shared with a smile. “It makes the winters go so fast. We start practicing in the beginning of November and before you know it, boom, we’re in February and you’re on the downhill slope of winter.”

There are other benefits for cheerleaders who hustle for hoorays while supporting championship teams.

“I’ve been to state 10 times in my coaching career,” she said. “To get girls to experience it at that level is great.”

But state tournament trips and championships aren’t the real reasons Tinklenberg is so committed.

She pauses.

“Just for those girls, to walk away with really great high school memories is why I do this,” she said. “I hope they walk away finally and are like, ‘Wow, those were some of the best times I had in high school.’”

Tinklenberg, 47, has a daughter (Elizabeth) who is a junior cheerleader at Southwest Christian. She and her husband, Terry, also have a son, Josiah, who is in college.

Is there an end in sight to her cheerleader coaching career?

“I don’t know,” she laughed. “We’re hoping to find an assistant. But I’m not ready to hang it up yet.”

She laughed once more.

“It keeps me young, being with these girls,” she said. “The best thing about it is the girls, seeing their enthusiasm. Obviously we have this huge tradition at Southwest Christian of basketball, and for the girls to be along and cheer in Worthington, cheer in Marshall, and experience all the fun and excitement, it’s all just fantastic.”

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