The expectation versus reality of cheerleading


Emersyn Armstrong

Cheerleaders hit their Elite Stunt and pyramid.

The background noise of tumbling and bodies moving with precision and grace surrounds you. Walking into the warm-up hall before a performance, other cheerleaders perform stunts and practice their routines. Hoping it will all be over soon as the other teams compete. The nerves create a balance of shaking and heavy, unequal breathing. Reassuring the team with positive words of encouragement, the time comes, as the team joins hands, walks out to the crowd waving, soon taking their place, beginning to start the routine.  

Recently the second season of ‘Cheer’ came out and as of current it’s one of the top shows on the hit streaming service, Netflix. But there is a question many are asking: Is the show true to what actually happens during competitive cheer and its practices?

On the show, the Head Cheerleading Coach of Navarro College, Monica Aldama, seems to be very close with her athletes. However, when they do something wrong or aren’t doing their job she will set them straight, soon turning to yell at them. Although to many it this may seem as though the coach is too hard on the athletes, in reality, it’s just her way of displaying tough love.

Tough love can come in any type of coach. My coach at the gym I cheer at is like Aldama. He loves us all, but if we are messing around or giving people an attitude he will tell us that it is not acceptable. Even though we are his athletes and he loves us, we still need to be disciplined in order to improve.   

In the first season of ‘Cheer,’ Monica sent her athletes on a treasure hunt. This is a way to get your athletes to work together through a team-building exercise, helping them build a stronger friendships with one another. My coach has done similar, sending us all to Kings Island at the beginning of the year to get to know each other. 

In the show when someone drops a stunt, the athletes have to run or do an exercise as a team because you shouldn’t let a flier hit the floor. In my practice at Pride Academy, one stunt group let a flier hit the floor so every time someone fell we had to do pushups and V-ups. We don’t only have those people do the exercise as we are a team and a family so we all go through it together. 

Competing is something that all athletes look forward to doing because you get to show the world, family, and friends what you and your team have been working on. You have been learning your routine and doing them full out to go on that floor and show everyone. 

Competitive cheerleading is something that you have to take very seriously. There are people getting thrown very high in the air and they are trusting you to catch them and if you are messing around something can go very wrong. 

So, in my opinion, the answer to many people’s question: Yes, the show really does show what cheerleading practice is like, as cheerleading is all about building bonds.