Sunday, April 22, 2018
Human Interest

From This Day: Cheerleading coach, student flip for one another

Up on a ladder, Peter Lezin was struggling to straighten one of the many signs that decorate Brandon All-Stars, his award-after-award-winning cheerleading gym.

"Your banner's crooked," Tara Diaz said with a smirk.

"What? No, it's not," Peter said.

"Yes, it is. You need to fix that," Tara beckoned.

"Then why don't you do it?"

So she did. She climbed that ladder and fixed that banner to her liking.

To this day, Tara says Peter admits he let her do it for a peek at her behind.

"He was pretty fresh," Tara, now 27, recalls with a laugh.

She was in Brandon from Key West to take care of her grandmother and wanted a tumbling lesson with her former coach. Peter, now 35, didn't recognize her, but loved her spunky attitude.

He wooed her into hanging out with some of his friends later that night.

A month later, in February 2009, he took her to the Florida State Fair on their first official date. At the end of a dizzying day, he lost the car in the parking lot.

They strolled around the gargantuan field for nearly two hours. Peter was embarrassed, so Tara kissed him.

Realizing she was falling in love with Peter, Tara traded her tropical Key West home for the Brandon suburbs. She also scored a job coaching at the gym (no surprise there).

Each year, Peter puts together a showcase at Brandon All-Stars where all the teams come together to jump, flip and kick for friends and family. In 2011, Peter had around 500 people packed in the gym.

He gave an opening speech, telling the throng how he had taken a lot of first steps since taking over the gym in 2005.

"And today, I want to take one more step," he said, turning toward Tara.

He kneeled and proposed. The crowd went nuts!

On the day of the wedding, Sept. 29, 2012, Tara needed a few minutes of peace — no bridesmaids, family or fuss — before making her way to the aisle at Nova535, an event space in downtown St. Petersburg where they would marry.

She went back to her hotel room at the Renaissance Vinoy. A heart-shaped box was waiting for her.

She opened it. Inside was a bracelet, a house key and a tiny slip of paper that said: All of this because of the banner.

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