My eyes were glued to the television screen from the very first second of episode one of “Cheer” until the very last second of its final episode. Netflix’s newest docu-series exposes the ups and downs of being a junior collegiate cheerleader for arguably the nation’s best cheer team, Navarro. Through grueling injuries and personal struggles at home, the members of Navarro cheer opened up their hearts and homes to viewers and brought them along their journey to win a national title in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Navarro College, a community college located in tiny Corsicana, Texas, has won 14 national championships in the last 20 years all thanks to head coach Monica Aldama and her amazing athletes. Aldama, a graduate of Corsicana High School, provides her athletes with a strict but loving coaching style. She gives young men and women with a troubled past a chance to redeem themselves and to strive for something more. Her motto, “you keep going until you get it right, and then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong” forces athletes to master their routine until they reach near perfection. No matter how tired the team is, Aldama forces them to keep pushing until there’s not one ounce of sweat left in their body.
What I love so much about “Cheer” is that it disproves the stigma that cheerleading requires no athleticism. Young women are being flipped into the air, sometimes even falling to the ground, while young men are holding at least one, or even two, members of their team on their shoulders. The brutality of this sport when it comes to physical harm is close to no other. You become so invested that when a teammate gets injured, you feel their pain and sorrow.
It’s no secret that cheerleading is viewed as a sport for the wealthy, beautiful women who can afford to be in mini skirts and tumbling across a mat. However, realistically it’s so much more than that. The in-dorm interviews with various members of the team allow for a deeper understanding of their personal lives and what they go through outside of cheer. La’Darius Marshall, a base/tumbler, discusses how his older brothers would beat him “into being a man.” Being a star football player made it difficult for people to understand why La’Darius wanted to become a cheerleader. After leaving his home, he went on to become one of the best tumblers on Aldama’s Navarro team, meaning he was one of the best tumblers in the entire nation.
“Cheer” may be the best docu-series I’ve ever watched, and surely the best one that is available on Netflix. I became so emotionally invested in the athletes that I wanted the best for them the same way that I want the best for my close friends. It shed light on a sport that is not nearly recognized enough and gave the world a new and fresh perspective on cheerleading.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.