Collier was always athletic, said her mother. To unleash her abundant energy, her parents took her to exercise as a toddler.
“It was game time, it was fun, but she tried to be the best at everything she tried, like her flips. She just kept going: ‘I have to do this right, this round, what’s a round doing – how do you look? Said Ponda Collier.
Eventually, however, Charli grew too big for gymnastics and switched to the sport both parents had played in college – her mother at Southwestern University and her father at Eastern Montana College.
As Charli’s recruiting letters piled up, Elliott Collier looked after her and spoke to coaches across the country, Ponda Collier said, as both parents tried to preserve their childhoods for as long as possible.
When his daughter was in sophomore school, Elliott Collier learned he had lung and liver cancer. Charli said she would then have to prepare for a life without him.
“It has taken a toll,” Ponda Collier said of her two children. “But I really feel that her strength comes from the way he was. He was so strong through it all and they kept trying to make him happy so he could have good news. “
A few weeks before his death, Elliott Collier read out her invitation to Charli to try out the U17 women’s national team from his hospital bed. He beamed with pride and introduced her as the No. 1 draft pick in the WNBA in Ponda, Collier said. He died on April 4, 2016 at the age of 53.