'Cheer' is back. Coach Monica is ready.

CORSIANA, Texas – Monica Aldama grabbed a mic like a re-enactment queen. Navarro College Head Coach Cheer, who is known for her role in...


CORSIANA, Texas – Monica Aldama grabbed a mic like a re-enactment queen. Navarro College Head Coach Cheer, who is known for her role in the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” got her team up with “mat talks” before bodies began to hover in the air.

“Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to push yourself to do today,” she told the team. “Really do it.”

It was early December and on the sidelines, Ms. Aldama, 49, with cool blonde highlights and iconic French square tips, was watching the tumblers whirl furiously.

The second season of “Cheer” will air on January 12, almost two years after the first season aired. The Emmy-winning series provided an unvarnished window into competitive cheerleading and captivated audiences with personal stories, injuries, and the team’s journey to national varsity competition.

The Navarro College team, which is one of the best programs in the country, has won 14 National Junior Collegiate Division Championships since 2000 and five Grand National titles since 2012. After Season 1, recognition for the team and Ms. Aldama resonated beyond joy. world. The team made appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Today’s show” and was parodied on “SNL.” Mrs. Aldama was called “The Bill Belichick of cheerleaders. “

“Monica is the most determined trainer I have ever had the privilege of filming,” said Greg Whiteley, creator, director and executive producer of “Cheer,” said in an email. “Ten seconds after our first conversation with her, I knew she was someone whose story needed to be told.”

The first season featured often grueling routines in which it seemed at times as if Navarro’s team were being encouraged to overcome their pain. The show also featured a series of jaw-dropping moments of physical trauma, including concussions, bruised ribs and a game-changing ankle injury in the midst of a national championship performance.

Netflix declined to comment on the injuries from Season 1. Ms Aldama said the show was edited to focus on falls to highlight the difficulty of the sport.

“I felt like they probably could have edited to show how difficult it was without having every fall we had,” she said.

The team regularly focuses on safety precautions, including having additional observers when they learn new routines, Ms. Aldama said.

“Safety is # 1,” she said. “We don’t really have a lot of injuries other than your normal wear and tear.” Ms Aldama added that many of the injuries in athletes, such as ACL tears, were the result of overuse.

“It’s like any other sport, you’re going to have wear and tear because you’ve been physical and you’ve been doing, you know, some sort of physical activity for probably most of your life,” she declared.

Research shows, however, that the risk of catastrophic injury in cheerleading can be very high. Between 1982 and 2009, “65% of all direct catastrophic injuries in female high school athletes and 70.8% at the college level” resulted from cheerleading, according to a 2012 study. American Academy of Pediatrics report.

Kimberly Archie, founder of the National Cheer Safety Foundation, a group of concerned parents calling for safe practices in sports, said the injuries viewers saw on the show are a major concern and her organization is working to address make reforms, especially by teaching athletes. how to fall.

“One of the things I learned when I started tracking injuries is that we don’t teach kids what to do if something goes wrong, but we know things go wrong.” Ms Archie said.

The series also made headlines last September when the series star Jerry Harris was arrested and charged with the production of child pornography. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Mr. Harris’s case is scheduled to go to a pre-trial hearing on January 12.

Ms Aldama said she was devastated by the situation. “I can still barely talk about it without crying,” she said, crying. She said she received a letter from Mr Harris after the news broke and spoke to him briefly when one of his athletes was on the phone with him one day in the gym. The second season will focus on the charges against Mr. Harris, according to Netflix representatives.

It will also focus on a new group of cheerleaders and follow the lives of a few of the Season 1 cast members. new trailer as the series shows the team responding to reports on Mr. Harris, preparing for the national college competition in Daytona and taking on their rivals, Trinity Valley Community College.

“Before we even realized how wild things would be, we were already filming,” Ms. Aldama said.

She became a local celebrity in Corsicana, Texas where she grew up. The city, about an hour south of Dallas, has a population of around 25,000 and boasts world-famous fruit cakes and a four-block downtown area with brick-cobbled streets.

During a pepperoni pizza dinner, which Ms Aldama ate with a knife and fork, the coach described herself as a very private person. Although she slowly gets used to being recognized by “Cheer,” it was initially shocking.

“I didn’t think a lot of people would watch the documentary,” she said.

She started her own career as a cheerleader at Tyler Junior College. She transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a degree in finance, and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Texas at Tyler. After years of cheerleading training, Ms. Aldama knew all too well the stereotypes associated with the sport.

So when the opportunity arose to cheer, she grabbed it. “I thought no one really understood what we do and how passionate we are,” Ms. Aldama said. “You really put in hours and hours at the gym.”

Ms. Aldama, like her practices, can be intense, but also energetic and warm.

“Everyone needs a little something different,” she said. “Some need a lot more than others because they don’t have any.”

For her, it’s just part of the job. The coach is there to talk to his cheerleaders through grief or help them find jobs to help them afford what they need.

His team, for its part, is motivated and anxious to please.

Morgan Simianer, 24, former Navarro cheerleader and star of the show, said she was determined to test her limits.

“You work so hard for this that you don’t want to miss a thing,” Ms. Simianer said. “So I’ve always been resistant to injury, but I’m also very determined that I can do it right a million times. “

Joshua Stamper, 28, who, after 13 years of encouragement at the elite level, has come to Navarro in search of college titles, called Ms Aldama’s coaching style “loving but competitive”.

“At the end of the day, she loves every athlete she has, but we always have a goal in mind,” he said.

After the show’s first season, Ms. Aldama was left with new opportunities, including a chance to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.” Although initially unsure, she moved to Los Angeles and was matched with professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy. The “coach being trained” element of the series intimidated Ms. Aldama.

“It was scary,” she said, but it got to week 7 out of 11 weeks.

Ms. Aldama had also always thought about writing a book, and after the series premiere, she was approached by a handful of publishers. When the world went into lockdown and their schedule opened up, it seemed like the perfect time to write one. “Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership From America’s Favorite Coach,” which will be released Jan. 4, is part self-help, part memoir.

Personally and professionally, Ms. Aldama said she was inspired by Taylor Swift. “I want to be all of these just like her,” Ms. Aldama said of the pop star. “But in my world, not the music.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'Cheer' is back. Coach Monica is ready.
'Cheer' is back. Coach Monica is ready.
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