- Monica Aldama has been head coach of the Navarro College cheerleading team for 24 years.
- She says she's constantly learning as head coach and acts as mother and advisor for the team.
- Monica keeps in touch with her former cheerleaders via group text messages and an active alumni network.
Monica Aldama has coached the Navarro College cheerleading team for 24 years, winning 14 NCA junior college division national championships and five grand national titles along the way. She's not only a Queen, as her cheerleaders call her, but a real-life legend, per her Navarro College bio . (But you already knew that if you've tuned into Netflix's Cheer.)
When the docuseries premiered, she became an icon outside the competitive cheerleading circles overnight. Now, Cheer fans are dying to know what Monica is up to after taking home yet another national championship in 2019 (NBD).
In an interview with Women's Health, everybody's favorite cheerleading coach opens up about her experience filming Cheer, how she stays close with her teams, and the future of Navarro College cheerleading.
First and foremost, Monica is still head coachand much moreat Navarro College.
At Navarro, cheerleading isn't just a serious sport , it's basically a way of life. That means Monica isn't just head coach, but much more to her athletes. "The biggest thing is learning that this is not just coaching," Monica tells Women's Health. "I wear a lot of hats. I have to be a mother figure. I have to be a disciplinarian. I have to be an advisor, a counselor, so many different things. I was young [when I started coaching at Navarro]; I didnt realize that coming in."
She quickly realized, however, that her job responsibilities were "way bigger" than simply coaching. "This is like actually taking care of these kids, giving them a safe place, giving them someone to talk to," she explains. "You know, navigating through their problems with them and helping them to set some goals and have some aspirations in life that go beyond cheerleading." At the end of the practice, competition season, and eventually, school year, Monica's biggest job is to "just give them guidance."
And she's in a ton of group chats with all her Navarro cheerleaders.
"We have a group chat from each year that we talk in," Monica explains. "We all stay close. We talk in our group chat from last years team quite often. Somebody sees something funny, and we reminisce. Were constantly talking to each other in that group chat throughout the year even though those kids arent here."
Not only do they text on the reg, but the group chat really blew up when Netflix debuted Cheer. "Were talking back and forth about it and how happy we are and the impact that its made and the response that weve gotten back and just missing each other," Monica says, adding that pretty much the entire team woke up at two a.m. CT (when the show premiered on Netflix for them) to binge-watch the whole series.
"They all got up and watched the entire thing because they couldnt wait," she explains. "We were all chatting in the group chat as they were watching it." (Even though Monica didn't have to be awake at that time because she's already seen the series, after hearing her phone go off again and again and again, what else was a proud coach to do?)
Monica welcomed the Cheer film crew like they were part of the team.
It didn't take long for director Greg Whiteley and his crew to fit right in with the close-knit team. "Within a few days, we were so focused on what we were doing that we forgot that they were there. They became like family. They learned our routine; they were, like, our biggest cheerleaders," Monica says. "They got emotional when we did our first show-off. I mean, they cried. They got so invested. It was the neatest experience ever."
Monica watched Cheer four times before it was released.
Monica snagged a sneak peek of the whole series, and she binged it more than once. "I got to see it a few days earlier, a pre-screen of it, so I watched it, I think, four times before they even saw it," she said.
And she cried every. single. time.
"Watching the series, its bringing back the entire year, and its very emotional," she says. "Ive cried every time Ive watched it." (Same, Monica, SAME.)
Monica was "very happy" with the Netflix series.
She didn't just watch the series, she loved every minute of it. "We were very happy with everything. Were super excited about the release of season one and amazed at how many people have watched it and the love and support weve gotten," Monica says. "Im just blown away at the response. I had really no idea this was going to happen."
Oh, and btw, Monica also said she'd love to do Cheer season twoso keep those spirit fingers crossed.
Monica believes her cheerleaders are tough athletes.
Listen up, because this is what she wants all the Cheer fans to know, too. "These are real athletes that put in the work, and theyre tough; theyre really tough," she says. "And on top of that... theyre real people with real problems. I think everybody can relate to something. Seeing that these kidsno matter where they come fromthey can come in and work together for a common goal and overcome the circumstances youre born into."
She also believes in giving second chances.
Monica let Lexi Brumback and Kapena back on the team after they were kicked out. "He had been punished, but I wasnt going to give up on him," she explains. "I still wanted to be in his life and help him, kind of the same thing with Lexi."
According to the coach, Lexi's mother and grandmother reached out to her about letting Lexi try out for the Navarro team again. Monica agreed, anddrum roll, pleaseLexi's officially back on the team.
"Im always open to giving people a second chance," says Monica. "But there has to be some level of discipline, depending on the situation."
That's what makes her the coach.