Netflix Documentary Puts Cheerleading Center Stage

By Cassidy Cerny | Contributor

The American Cheerleader” is an exhausted cliché that has been kept alive for far too long. Cheerleaders are no longer just the popular, tan, skinny, white girls who date the quarterback. They are no longer just the queen bees of the school, or the dumb blondes with daddy’s money.

“Cheer,” a six-part documentary on streaming platform Netflix, challenges this traditional stereotype and changes the face of cheerleading.

The show follows Navarro College’s elite cheer team during their competition season, showcasing the team’s journey from their  beginning all the way to them defending their title at NCA, a national cheerleading competition in Daytona, FL.

Although the show’s main focus is cheerleading, the show digs deeper into the lives of the athletes on the team. Many personal backstories were shared on camera.

“It is honest, emotional, funny and gut-wrenching,” Monica Aldama, Navarro coach, tweeted. “It does not sugar coat anything, so bring your tissues. It is not for your six year old as it touches on real life struggles for young adults.”

The show has reached many people, and the team even recently performed on “Ellen”.

The show has even touched some students at Avon High School. Sophomores Sophie Tefeteller and Ava Lentz are von the varsity cheerleading squad and have watched “Cheer.”

“This series allows people who are not apart of the sport [to] see what it is really about. Yes, cheerleaders do go to football and basketball games and yell out sideline cheers, but that is only one little part of our sport. People usually do not see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of cheerleading, where we practice for hours on hours to perfect a two-minute and 30 second routine. The series, “Cheer”, really shows the hard work that goes on,” said Lentz.

Tefteller added, “Shortly after the show came out on Netflix, it was all over social media, and reading some of the non-cheerleader comments made me see that [people who] watched it could see how much their hard work and positive attitudes really paid off.”

Before the show aired, many cheerleaders were afraid of it being “cheesy” and “just another cheer show” like “Bring It On. Tefteller, Lentz, and many others cheerleaders were very happy to see that it showed both the good and bad sides of cheerleading.

“’Cheer’ shows the hours of practice, the blood, the sweat, tears, and the hard work that goes on before getting announced that they were national champions. This series shows the dedication and heart you need to put in to become a champion. And it shows that the mental aspect is so much more than the physical aspect to become successful!” Lentz said.

Although the show appealed to the eyes of cheerleaders, many non-cheerleaders also watched the show.

Cailyn Swearinger, a varsity dancer, shared her thoughts.

“[The show] really showed how the stereotypes for artistic sports like dance and cheer are very off, and that people don’t realize how hard on the body and brain these sports are,” said Swearinger.

Like Swearinger, senior Haley Stoutamyer isn’t a cheerleader, but a varsity soccer player who watched “Cheer.”

“I did like watching the show – I normally am not into cheerleading, but watching them compete and want something so bad reminds me of when I played soccer,” Stoutameyer said. “It shows that competitive cheerleading is just like any other sport.”

“Cheer” is a show not just for cheerleaders – it talks about real issues that real people deal with, and most important how they overcome these trying times. The show gives a new definition to the true meaning of the word “team”, and shows that no matter what your story is, one decision can greatly change the course of your life.

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