SNYDER, Texas - Gymnasts and dancers in Snyder are mourning the loss of one of their tumbling coaches. Brandon Sanders, 23, died in a cotton gin accident Wednesday in Rotan.
Friends of Sanders say cheering was his life. A Lewisville native, he coached tumbling for CheerStar Athletics in Snyder for two years. The head tumbling coach, Neika Porter, said he cheered at Lewisville High School, Weatherford College, and the University of North Texas.
"It's going to be really tough on these kids," Porter said. "Somebody these boys could look up to and rely on."
Sanders joined the gym in Snyder back in August 2015. His first student was Sean Humphrey a Snyder High School student.
"I strive to be as good as a man as he was," Humphrey said. "He took a bunch of guys who have never done it before, go and compete and we weren't too bad."
A staff member and gymnastics mom, Monique Guzman, remembers Sanders as a talented and fun coach who always told jokes.
"There's a cutting up laugh that he would do," Guzman said. "Even if he was working, he was giggling about something."
Dralon Jackson was another one of his students he said he considered Sanders a friend and was at a loss when he heard of Sanders' passing.
"It was tough but we'll be tumbling for you so watch down on us," Jackson said.
KTXS spoke with the gin manager in Rotan, who said they are still investigating the details of Sanders' accident. They hope to have more information next week.
Services will be held for Sanders from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Lewisville. Visitation will be 7-9 p.m. Friday at the Dalton funeral home.
Friends and family of Sanders reached out to KTXS to share their thoughts.
"He came to West Texas in 2014 with a cheer friend and a family. Searching to find a friend, a place to teach and the hope to one day own a gym of his own. He made Rotan his home, when he met and began teaching the children at the gym here in Snyder. He loves each kid, he was an encouragement to all who ever knew him," Sanders' godmother said.
"Brandon was one of those people you were lucky to know in life. He would do anything for you. He had passion for cheer and he was an all-around great person who wanted to change the world. He tried to make a difference in every kid's life and let them know that they could be successful no matter what. His words for kids was always 'success,' he said it anytime they were about to throw a challenge skill. He wanted them to believe they could achieve anything. We will miss him in our gym and as a close friend," said Kay Porter, owner of Stars R Us Tumbling & Trampoline.
"Brandon was an incredible coach not only because he knew gymnastics, but because he loved the kids. He knew how to bring out the best in them and his personality brightened the room. I'll never forget him or the confidence he brought out in my daughter. We are forever grateful for our time with him," said Lauren Collier, the mother of one of Brandon's students.
"He would've done anything for any of us kids. He was always so sarcastic, positive and cracking jokes. He had a vibe about him that was all his own and I loved him for that," said Lexie Hanshew, senior at Ira High School.
"Brandon was always a light in the gym that made my days happy. He was a friend first and a coach second, and for that I'll be forever thankful. Love that guy," said Kaci Archer, a Texas Tech freshman.