Bohannan twins leave their mark on Longhorn athletics, including football
Basalt High School football coach Carl Frerichs saw the talent early on and did what he could to steer the twins toward Longhorn athletics. The middle school’s gym teacher and basketball coach, he began recruiting Katie and Chandra Bohannan long before they started taking classes on the other side of the highway and boy — or should we say, girl — did that pay off.
“At the sixth grade parent-teacher conference, I told their parents … we got to get them involved in team sports because they are absolutely dominating my P.E. class,” Frerichs recently recalled. “When you go into education, you think you are going to maybe inspire kids to do things like that. But what I’ve really learned is I feel like I’m inspired way more by kids like Katie and Chandra than anything I’ve ever done.”
Now seniors at BHS, the Bohannan sisters have certainly left their mark on Longhorn sports. Notably, Chandra should be in uniform for the football team’s Saturday home playoff game against Sand Creek, where she is believed to be the first girl to have played all four years on the Basalt football team.
Katie also played football for BHS as a freshman and sophomore, and remains on board as a team manager. Neither sister had ever played organized football before getting to high school.
“It just seemed fun and the guys wanted me to come out, but I couldn’t because I had other responsibilities going at that time. But coming up to our freshman year … they pulled me and my sister into it and signed us up,” Chandra said of playing football. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But it really helped having my friends along with me and guiding me and giving me some pointers and that helped me through.”
Chandra is hardly a sideline decoration. She plays on both lines and serves as the team’s main scout team nose tackle during the week. Frerichs has no problem throwing her into varsity games, where she’s learned to match the physicality of her male counterparts on the gridiron.
“She definitely knows what football is because she is right in the middle of it every week,” Frerichs said. “She is usually right in the middle of the action all week and she never backs down. She never complains. She works her tail off. It doesn’t matter where we tell her she is going to go, she plays really hard.”
Katie moved on from playing football after her sophomore year, deciding to join the all-girls rugby team, effectively through Glenwood Springs High School. While rugby matches have been few and far between since she joined the team because of the pandemic, Katie has filled in that time as BHS football’s team manager, where she is responsible for filling water bottles and collecting footballs, among other duties.
Katie said she largely wanted to be the team manager to continue to support her sister, who remained on as a player.
“Definitely not. I definitely needed my sister there,” Katie said when asked if she would have ever tried playing football without Chandra. “Football was fun and everything, I just wasn’t as strong and as tough as the guys, so I didn’t play much. It was fun to watch and be on the team and everything, but I wanted to be more active.”
As far as football and rugby go, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the twins. Both sisters were a key part of the BHS girls basketball team’s resurgence this past winter, and will compete on the school’s track and field team this spring.
While their first sport was actually mutton busting at the rodeo, according to their father, Rick, the girls’ background is truly in martial arts. Both sisters are black belts in taekwondo, which helped them develop skills that have carried over into their high school sports.
“That’s what really gave them their strength for basketball and for football,” Rick Bohannan said. “Since the beginning, we had a rule that we’d support them in any sport, but when they start a sport they got to finish it. And they did do pretty good at that.”
Rick, along with his wife, Dana, are the girls’ adopted parents. Katie and Chandra were born in Cambodia, with Rick and Dana pulling them out of a Cambodian orphanage just shy of their second birthday. The girls have no idea who is older, nor do they particularly care, and are more or less inseparable, as different as they can sometimes be.
“Their taekwondo teacher called them ‘mirror twins.’ It was like Yin, and the other is Yang,” Rick said. “One of them is right-handed, the other is left-handed. They are kind of opposites. You ask them any question, and one answer will be ‘yes’ and one will be ‘no.’”
The sisters are most likely headed to Colorado State University next fall. Katie plans to pursue a degree in zoology, while Chandra is going for psychology.
And in what is likely to be the final days or, hopefully, weeks of Chandra’s football career, she had nothing but good things to say about her decision to play in the first place. It was difficult, yes, but also something she’d recommend to any other girls out there thinking of doing the same.
“I would probably tell them it’s definitely hard work,” Chandra said. “You have to be really disciplined. Just try your best, honestly. That’s what the team looks for. Have fun and everything, but don’t let other people take you down or anything. Go with it and if you really love it, stay with it.”
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