‘Cheer’ is Back. Coach Monica is Ready.


CORSICANA, Texas — Monica Aldama grasped a mike like a pageant queen. The head coach of Navarro College Cheer, who is identified for her position on the Netflix documentary collection “Cheer,” was hyping up her squad with “mat talk” earlier than our bodies started hovering by means of the air.

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

It was early December and from the sidelines, Ms. Aldama, 49, with recent blond highlights and her signature sq. French ideas, watched as tumblers twirled furiously.

The second season of “Cheer” will premiere on Jan. 12, practically two years for the reason that first season aired. The Emmy-winning collection offered an unvarnished window into aggressive cheerleading and captivated audiences with the workforce’s private tales, accidents and journey to the school nationals competitors.

The Navarro College workforce, which is among the finest applications within the nation, has received 14 Junior College Division National Championships since 2000 and 5 Grand National Titles since 2012. After Season 1, recognition for the workforce and Ms. Aldama reverberated past the cheer world. The squad has made appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Today Show” and was parodied on “SNL.” Ms. Aldama was referred to as “the Bill Belichick of cheerleading.”

“Monica is the most determined coach I have ever had the privilege to film,” Greg Whiteley, the creator, director and govt producer of “Cheer,” mentioned in an electronic mail. “Ten seconds into our first conversation with her I knew this was someone whose story needed to be told.”

The first season featured usually grueling routines wherein it generally appeared as if the Navarro squad was inspired to push by means of their ache. The present additionally featured a collection of jaw-clenching moments of bodily trauma, together with concussions, bruised ribs and a game-changing ankle damage within the midst of a nationwide championship efficiency.

Netflix declined to touch upon the accidents in Season 1. Ms. Aldama mentioned that the present was edited to emphasise falls so as to highlight the problem of the game.

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

The workforce usually focuses on security precautions, together with having additional spotters after they’re studying new routines, Ms. Aldama mentioned.

“Safety is No. 1,” she mentioned. “We don’t really have a lot of injuries besides your normal wear and tear.” Ms. Aldama added that lots of the accidents amongst athletes, corresponding to ACL tears, have been a results of overuse.

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

Research exhibits, nonetheless, danger of catastrophic damage in cheerleading may be very excessive. Between 1982 and 2009, “65 percent of all direct catastrophic injuries to girl athletes at the high school level and 70.8 percent at the college level” resulted from cheerleading, in accordance with a 2012 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Kimberly Archie, the founding father of the National Cheer Safety Foundation, a bunch of involved mother and father calling for protected practices within the sport, mentioned the accidents that viewers noticed on the collection are a significant concern and her group is working to make reforms, together with educating athletes the right way to fall.

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

The collection additionally made headlines final September when Jerry Harris, the present’s breakout star, was arrested and charged with manufacturing of kid pornography. He has pleaded not responsible to the fees. Mr. Harris’s case is set for a standing listening to on Jan. 12.

Ms. Aldama mentioned she is devastated by the scenario. “I still can barely talk about it without crying,” she mentioned, tearing up. She mentioned she obtained a letter from Mr. Harris after the information got here out and spoke to him briefly when one among her athletes was on the cellphone with him someday within the health club. The second season will deal with the accusations towards Mr. Harris, in accordance with representatives for Netflix.

It may even flip the give attention to to a brand new group of cheerleaders and observe the lives of some solid members from Season 1. A brand new trailer for the collection exhibits the workforce responding to reviews about Mr. Harris, getting ready for the school nationals competitors in Daytona and going through off towards their rivals, Trinity Valley Community College.

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

She has grow to be an area celeb in Corsicana, Texas, the place she grew up. The city, about an hour south of Dallas, has a inhabitants of about 25,000 and flaunts world-famous fruitcake and a four-block downtown space with brick-paved streets.

Over a dinner of pepperoni pizza, which Ms. Aldama ate with a knife and fork, the coach described herself as a really non-public individual. Although she is slowly getting used to being acknowledged from “Cheer,” initially it was surprising.

“I did not think that a lot of people would watch the documentary,” she mentioned.

She started her personal cheer profession at Tyler Junior College, and after years of teaching, Ms. Aldama knew the stereotypes that had been related to cheerleading all too effectively.

So when the chance offered itself to do “Cheer,” she took it. “I thought nobody really understood what we do and how passionate we are,” Ms. Aldama mentioned. “You really do hours and hours at the gym.”

Ms. Aldama, like her practices, may be intense, but additionally energetic and heat.

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

For her, it’s simply part of the job. The coach is there to speak her cheerleaders by means of heartbreak or assist set them up with jobs to assist them afford what they want.

Her workforce, for his or her half, is pushed and desirous to please.

Morgan Simianer, 24, a former cheerleader for Navarro and a star on the present, mentioned she was decided to check her limits.

“You are working so hard for it that you don’t want to miss out on anything,” Ms. Simianer mentioned. “So, I always pushed through injuries, but I’m also very determined to be able to do it right a million times.”

Joshua Stamper, 28, who after 13 years of cheering at an elite stage got here to Navarro seeking faculty titles, characterised Ms. Aldama’s teaching model as “loving but competitive.”

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

After the primary season of the present, Ms. Aldama discovered herself with new alternatives together with an opportunity to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.” Although she was initially not sure, she went to Los Angeles and was paired up with the skilled dancer Val Chmerkovskiy. The “coach being coached” factor of the collection was intimidating to Ms. Aldama.

“It was scary,” she mentioned, however she made it to Week 7 out of 11 weeks.

Ms. Aldama had additionally at all times thought of writing a e-book, and after the collection premiered, she was approached by a handful of publishers. When the world went into lockdown and her schedule opened up, it appeared like the perfect time to put in writing one. “Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership From America’s Favorite Coach,” which can be revealed on Jan. 4, is half self-help, half memoir.

Personally and professionally, Ms. Aldama mentioned she is impressed by Taylor Swift. “I want to be all of that, just like her,” Ms. Aldama mentioned of the pop star. “But in my world, not music.”