Give it up for Cheer


“Cheer” on Netflix gives viewers the chance to tumble, chant and stunt alongside the cheer team of Navarro Community College in a journey that fosters trust, self-respect and faith.


I love a good documentary, but documentaries usually don’t involve character development in the plot. World War II documentaries are a go-to for me, but they’re merely repeating facts. Watching “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (a documentary in its own way) is how I sometimes spend my free time, but it’s mainly just spectacle and drink-throwing. “Cheer,” on the other hand, cuts all the scrap away so that we can witness the toppling, intense and resilient Navarro cheerleaders.


The series follows the entire Navarro cheer team as it prepares for the 2019 National Cheer Championship in Daytona, Florida. But it also dives into the backstory of a select few team members. This short article cannot even begin to represent the emotional range and variety of personalities that are shown during the six-episode series. Each team member featured has a nuanced story and a unique energy that they bring to the team. What allows this mix of people to be successful, though, is their head coach, Monica Aldama. Aldama has won multiple national championships during her time as head coach at Navarro, but, of course, that doesn’t make the 2019 competition season any easier.


Aldama handles every hurdle with grace and compassion. Jumping over cyberbullying, broken families, toxic attitudes and a diabolical human pyramid, Aldama shows us how she functions in her natural habitat. Each student on the team gives us a lense through which to view her leadership. Is she angry at you because you are cutting yourself and the team short? Is she checking in on you and your situation at home? Maybe she takes you to the side to see how comfortable you are with learning a full routine in half an hour? She trusts her students, and she expects them to trust themselves as well. Through “Cheer,” we can see the strong program she has established at Navarro College and how it has benefited everyone who has been involved with it.


This actually made me thankful for the Monica Aldamas in my life. We all have them. Throughout the series, I witnessed a woman mold and craft unsteady teenagers into people who could strive for more than what they had. I couldn’t help but see parallels between myself and some of the cheerleaders. The Monica Aldama in my life has taught me similar lessons to those portrayed throughout the series: trust in those around you, forgive those working against you and have faith in your own abilities.


I like to think that we can all imagine ourselves as one of these first-class athletes. It’s hard not to do so when “Cheer” gives such a precise and vulnerable look into their lives. Being a shaky and moldable teenager, after all, is not too far from my current situation, although I would like to point out that I am NOT currently preparing for a national championship in Daytona, Florida. But for these cheerleaders, this is a formative time of their life. Hopefully in watching this series, you will also come to gain trust, forgiveness and faith—just like a Navarro Cheerleader does.