Netflix’s newest original series, Cheer isn’t new news. People have been talking this showstopping show since its drop at the beginning of 2020. While most think I’m late to speak its praises, most don’t know my background. To be honest, as a new mom, I’ve got enough going on with a new baby. The last thing I wanted to do was drum up old memories and feelings about a sport and activities I loved with my whole heart. After hearing how amazing it from fellow cheer friends though and lockdown for my county in effect, I caved. I watched the entire series in two days and the only thing I regret is the sleep I missed over it. I easily could have spread the episodes over the span of a week to not risk my precious sleep. But Cheer had me roped back into my cheer shoes by the first episode and there was no slowing down. I couldn’t stop watching even though I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen. Why? Because this my friends, is what the Cheer life is really about. When you’ve lived it, you just know.
The series chronicles the ups and downs of a single season as Navarro College Cheer preps for the ultimate cheer competition in Daytona, Flordia. While everyone may think this is Bring it On behind the scenes. Unfortunately, this is the cold hard reality of the sport. These athletes continue to push their bodies past the limit and against doctors’ orders all for gaining the coveted spot on the mat for the final performance. Routines get tougher, crazier, and higher. Navarro isn’t new to the cheer circuit though. In fact, they are the best with (spoilers) 14 championship wins under their belt. All thanks to Coach Monica and her tough as nails attitude.
If you were an ex-cheerleader or tumbler, this series is as nostalgic as watching Saturday morning cartoons. I grew up a gymnast and competed in sports acrobatic competitions by the time I was in middle school. The adrenaline rush from performing was something I craved. Not to mention, I was a completely fearless daredevil when it came to tumbling and being thrown around. When gymnastics wasn’t enough, I started adding all-star cheer by seventh grade. Frankly, all-star cheerleading is just sports acrobatics in team form on crack. But it was that acro training that really set me up for a successful cheer career. I had a large tumbling arsenal like Lexi, was dependable with skills like Gabi, and willing to do anything like Morgan. In acro, I only had to depend on one or two other people to carry the entire routine. When I joined all-stars I learned I could throw the most flawless routine, but still not win because someone else failed. I was at the gym around the clock to the point my mom declared by sophomore year, “you are officially at the gym more hours than at school.” I was getting a 4.0 and acquiring full-ride scholarships so she really didn’t have room to complain. By the time I graduated, I was competing on the USA Sports Acrobatic Team, the best local All-Star cheer team, my high school’s competitive team, and coaching. I still wanted more. The college I choose didn’t have a competitive cheer team, so I joined Cirque Du Soliel. That dream lasted three years before my body after years of abuse finally said: “Sit down, you’re done.”
While watching, I felt my bones ache as flyers hit the floor and push-ups started. My husband asked what was going on when I gasped, I screamed like I was offended that he didn’t know, “THE FLYER NEVER HITS THE FLOOR!” I remember the mental and physical exhaustion of hell week and doing multiple full outs in a row. The complete disappointment when an injury happened days or even HOURS before we were supposed to perform and having to rework everything in a frenzy. The surge of adrenaline and heart-pounding excitement from walking out on to floor perform. Those two minutes and fifteen seconds felt like the longest of my life some times. On the flip side, I also felt the nauseating wave of panic and anxiety for Monica as she coached throughout the season. My husband asked if I’ve ever been that coach screaming on the sidelines and pounding the floor? Yep, every damn time. In fact, some of my favorite coaching videos are me freaking out while my team was on the floor. Frankly, I’ve been in both shoes and by the end of the series, I was spent emotionally. It was like I had lived the season with them and I love it when a show/movie/book does that to you. If you are a past all-star cheerleader and need to get your blood pumping, this is the series for you. It’s all the feelings without the pain and broken bones.