Review: Cheer will make you want to be a cheerleader
January 29, 2020
After a lifetime of awkward incoordination, besides a brief stint in gymnastics, cheerleading seemed far out of reach. Still, Netflix’s new documentary Cheer made me wish that I had tried out, even after only 20 minutes of watching it. By the end of the first episode I was completely hooked as well as amazed by the amount of athleticism required of cheerleaders—I finished the series in less than a day.
The six episode documentary focuses on the Navarro community college’s cheer team in Corsicana, TX, one of the best in the country, and dives into the students on the team and their coach, Monica Aldama, as they train to compete in the 2019 national cheerleading competition in Daytona, FL.
I was never really someone who thought cheerleading was an “easy” sport, but I definitely did not realize how difficult of a sport it is. The students on the Navarro cheer team put forth an insane amount of practice and put their bodies through so much stress to prepare for their competition in Daytona. Within the first episode, three girls got concussions and one of the guys got kicked in the face.
One of the biggest focuses of the show is which cheerleaders will get to be “on mat” in Daytona, because only 20 of the 40 team members can perform in the competition. This made for a captivating perspective to show audiences, and it highlighted the very competitive nature of cheerleading.
The documentary also went into the backstories of five of the cheerleaders, and of the head coach Monica Aldama which added a more personal feeling to the series and really makes you root for those five cheerleaders especially to succeed.
Of all the aspects of cheerleading that were shown throughout the show, I think one of my favorites was that none of the cheerleaders were ever told anything along the lines of “there’s no crying in cheerleading”. There are many times where the team is put under a huge amount of pressure and the students often cry, whether it’s because they are in pain (which they endure A LOT of), or they’re stressed, or something else, but the coaches always make sure they are okay and give them a moment to calm down before returning to practicing, instead of insinuating that crying is somehow weak.
Aside from the perspective on cheerleading, the show is also just really well done from a cinematic point of view. The lead-up to Daytona, competing to be “on mat” and diving into backstories, all make for a very entertaining story.
Watching the show gave me a new impression of the sport and a much greater appreciation for how difficult cheerleading actually is, but also how fun it is. The cheerleaders on the Navarro team credited cheerleading as one of the best experiences of their lives, loving it with all of its difficulties and challenges.
Morgan Brazier is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief for the Knight Writers and RHSToday. She spends at least three periods a day in the journalism room...