By MACKENZIE EBELING
The Navarro College cheer team has won 14 National Championships and 5 grand championships at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) competition in Daytona, Florida over the last 20 years. On January 8, Netflix released a six episode documentary series called Cheer which follows the 2019 team’s journey to Daytona, Florida.
The team’s head coach is Monica Aldama. She originally earned a bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance at the University of Texas. Aldama saw herself in New York as the CEO of a large business, but decided to apply for the cheer coach position. She constantly pushes the team to do their very best, especially in stunting. According to womenshealthmag.com, while she has been coaching, Navarro College holds the highest score in history at NCA College Nationals.
Cheerleaders come from all over the country to compete for a spot “on mat” at this junior college in Corsicana. The team has roughly 40 members that cheer on Navarro’s sports teams, but only 20 are able to compete in Daytona, the best part of the season. One of the most recognizable members is 22 year-old Gabi Butler. Gabi has been cheering since she was eight years old and started her fame by making YouTube videos giving tips and teaching stretches to help gain flexibility. According to IMBD, she’s also appeared in Secret Diary of an American Cheerleader in 2012 and the series Cheerleaders in 2013.
Gabi teaches her own cheer clinics at gyms all over the country to help younger cheerleaders learn new skills. Gabi’s parents would place a lot of pressure on her and received some backlash after the show, however, when speaking on “The Ellen Show” about the situation, Gabi expressed that her parents have since realized that maybe she does need a break. After all, the 22 year-old has been traveling away from her family for many years and hasn’t had time to stay home.
The show lets the audience be a part of the team’s journey to Daytona, but also shares backgrounds on some of the members of the Navarro team. In addition to Gabi, the other cheerleaders that the show focuses on are Morgan Simianer, Jerry Harris, La’Darius Marshall, and Lexi Brumback. Each of these young adults came from rough family backgrounds, some worse than others, but come together to share their love of cheerleading and because of the sport, they have been able to make something more of their lives.
The show is becoming increasingly more popular and the team has been rewarded with love and support from viewers even outside of the cheer world. On January 23, the team travelled to California to be guests on “The Ellen Show.” Ellen got to speak to Monica and a few of the team members and then Navarro performed a routine in the Warner Bros. Studio. Afterwards, Ellen surprised the team with a $20,000 check for the next competition season.
Even if you don’t know anything about cheerleading, the documentary series Cheer will have you laughing and crying throughout all six of the episodes. Netflix has not yet confirmed a second season, but Navarro College will be heading to Daytona again April 8 through 12.