Cheer in the spotlight with new Netflix series

By Laci Sutton / Staff Writer

There have been countless films and television series revolving around sports like basketball and football, but where’s the hype for the sport supporting the sports?

For many people, the idea of cheerleading is the preppy rah-rah girls on the sidelines with the pom-poms, but there’s so much more to it.

Netflix recently released a docuseries “Cheer” that follows the ups and downs of the nationally-ranked Navarro College cheerleading team. This series gives viewers the chance to see that these athletes are more than the game-day sideliners most people imagine.

Hutchinson Community College’s cheer squad competes at the same national competition in Daytona, Florida as Navarro, and the Blue Dragons plan to compete there this April.

Isaac James is a sophomore on the HutchCC cheer team and has seen “Cheer.”

“I thought it portrayed what actual college cheerleading and all-star cheerleading really is,” James said. “It really is that tough. You really do get injured that much. I feel like it portrayed our sport as a sport and not for what people think it is.”

The series shows the highs and the lows of Navarro’s journey to Daytona. It depicts both the physical and mental challenges the athletes have to face. The cheerleaders have a passion for their sport, and it’s clear in every episode.

“It made me kind of emotional watching it, just because I can relate to it so much,” HutchCC cheerleader Hannah Moore said. “We’ve gone through some of the same things they have.”

The series shows a few of the athlete’s backstories and what brought them to Navarro cheer.

“I relate to Morgan [on the show] because she didn’t do competitive cheer, but she’s one of the best ones on their team because she put in the hard work outside of practice,” Moore said.

For many college athletes, their coaches become so much more than just their coach. They become their family, their therapist, and their support system both on and off the court.

That same relationship is shown from Navarro’s coach, Monica Aldama, as well as HutchCC’s coach, Kala McElhaney.

“As a coach, I think that it showed that coaching in practice is only about 20% of our job,” McElhaney said. “We are also their mom, their counselor, and their advisor outside of practice for sure. We have to get them through life and not just through a sport.”

Cheer is a physically demanding sport. Many cheer injuries are head injuries, such as concussions. This is shown over and over in “Cheer,” as athletes are tossed around and pushed to their physical limits.

James is no stranger to the pain cheerleading can bring. He has cheered competitively and for school since his sophomore year of high school and has had more than his share of injuries.

“I’ve torn my meniscus, broken my hand, pulled my back, and I’ve almost torn a ligament in my shoulder,” James said. “It’s a year-round sport so we never catch a break, even over the summer.”

The HutchCC cheer team practices four days a week, and twice on Mondays. Some athletes, like James, also compete with all-star teams. Managing the busy sports schedule, while still having time to stay on top of studying, can be overwhelming.

“It is so much, but the biggest thing is having an agenda and actually keeping [to it],” Moore said.

The series gives audiences an insight into the world of college cheerleading and shows a new perspective many people have never seen for the sport.

To see the action, the Blue Dragons will be competing at the regional competition on March 8th in Salina. They will be hosting a showcase before regionals, at a date to be announced. The national competition is in Daytona, from April 8-12.

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