Louisiana girl, 14, pulls double duty as cheerleader and soccer player: ‘It gives me an adrenaline rush’

Jennifer Chelette checked her oversized hair bow one more time. Her face had a Game Day glow as she straightened her navy and gold cheerleader uniform. He was ready to join his team at Terrebonne High Stadium in Houma, Louisiana, but he had one more thing to do before kickoff.

Jennifer, 14, grabbed her No. 55 soccer jersey and threw it over her head. For the coin toss it was required on the 50 meter line. ā€œIā€™m the captain,ā€ she told PEOPLE with a smile, before trotting off to meet her other teammates.

An eighth grader at Montegut Middle School, Jennifer is an honor roll student, softball player and cheerleader, but is best known as “the girl who plays soccer.”

This season, he has done double duty: cheering on his team in the first half and playing with his team in the second half.

L: Title Jennifer Chelette.

PHOTO: Leslie Gamboni

R: Title Jennifer Chelette.

PHOTO: Leslie Gamboni

“It’s not like any other sport,” he says. “It’s the only sport where you can go out there and hit somebody and get a big adrenaline rush. It doesn’t compare to anything.”

Listen to our interview with Jennifer Chelette below on our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Like most Southern families, Jennifer grew up watching football and cheering for her favorite teams: the New Orleans Saints, the Louisiana State University Tigers, and her older brother Colby’s football teams.

By the time he was 2 years old, his passion for soccer was evident.

“She was my diva when she was a baby, but when she turned 2, she became the water girl on her older brother’s soccer team,” says her mother Heather, 38. “He told his father and me when he was 6 years old that he wanted to play football. We were like, no, no.”

His family thought he would grow out of it and lose interest, but his determination never wavered, his parents said. It seemed like every week, Jennifer wanted to do something different, like gymnastics or swimming. But the only constant was that he wanted to be a footballer.

His father Derek finally agreed to let him play when he was 9 years old. “I wanted to get it out of his system. I didn’t think he would like it, and that set him back,” Derek says, laughing at the memory.

“How can I tell her she can be anything she wants in life and then tell her she can’t play something?” Derek’s father asks

Derek, who coached soccer, gave him the tools to cope and help him succeed.

“How can I tell her she can be anything she wants in life and then tell her she can’t play something?” Derek says. “To see him out there, technically beating all the other kids, I was proud of him.”

L: Title Jennifer Chelette.

PHOTO: Leslie Gamboni

R: Title Jennifer Chelette.

PHOTO: Leslie Gamboni

On Thursday afternoon in Houma, about an hour south of New Orleans, Jennifer’s family and friends were among the hundreds of fans in the stands watching the Lacache-Montegut Middle School Knights battle the Houma Junior High School Bulldogs. the best album

Jennifer started the night as a cheerleader, she tried the sport at the age of 7, but left it behind to try others. This year, he decided to give it another chance.

He watched his teammates struggle from the sidelines, more frustrated with each play, and waited impatiently for his football coach to give the signal. With three minutes left in the half, it was time to change.

Like Superman walking into a phone booth, or Wonder Woman springing into action, Jennifer and her mom slipped into a corner of the girls’ bathroom, where she went from cheerleader to soccer player in no time.

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