Monica Aldama is the coach of the cheer team at Navarro College in Texas and stars on the six-part Netflix docuseries “Cheer.”Aldama answered some rapid-fire questions for Insider about the interesting detail fans would be surprised to know about “Cheer,” her partnership with Objective Wellness’s Fast Sleep, and more.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Monica Aldama is a championship-winning cheer coach at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas and a star on Netflix’s hit docuseries “Cheer.”Aldama, who has led her teams to 14 NCA National Championships, answered some rapid-fire questions for Insider about the artist who’s always on her playlists, her advice on how to cope amid the coronavirus pandemic, her partnership with Objective Wellness’s Fast Sleep, and more.1. Who was your first concert?Def Leopard. It was outdoors at the Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre in Dallas, now known as the Dos Equis Pavilion.
2. Who is the last person who gave you a really good piece of advice and what was it?My husband. He told me not to read the negative comments (especially on Instagram) after the show came out. Most of the press was really good, but a few articles were negative and portrayed me as someone who I’m not at all. So I didn’t read them.Mental health is so important. Why read something you know that’s not true and going to bring you down? Fans and critics only saw six hours of edited footage and you can’t base your opinion on someone on just that alone. 3. Who’s one artist or song that’s always on your playlists?
Taylor Swift is always on Monica Aldama’s playlists.
4. What’s the last show you binged?”Tiger King.” Actually, I have a funny story about this — [Joe Exotic’s] last husband in the show, Dillon [Passage] — he and I follow each other on Instagram. Well, one day, a guy named Dillon messaged me, and without putting too much thought into it, I automatically assumed it was Dillon from my team because they spell their name the same way.He sent me an article about how everything must be right in the world because somehow “Tiger King” and “Cheer” were connected. Apparently, Dillon used to be a competitive cheerleader a few hours away from our school and there are some photos of him out there with Navarro cheerleaders. So funny, and the whole time I was thinking I was messaging with Dillon from my team about this!
5. What’s one thing you’ll never travel without?A jacket. I’m always cold. It can be summertime or wintertime, it doesn’t matter. I have a jacket on right now because my office is like a refrigerator.6. Have you ever been starstruck? Who was it and what happened?I did kind of act crazy on the “Today” show when I met J.J. Watt — the Texans football player. They surprised me on the “Today” show with him. He had tweeted about “Cheer” and I mentioned that in a previous interview and clearly producers at “Today” took note. He happened to be in town at the same time filming “Saturday Night Live,” and the producers brought him on the “Today” show to surprise us and I fell out of my chair!
From left: Jenna Bush Hager, J.J. Watt, Monica Aldama, Jerry Harris, Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall and Hoda Kotb on NBC’s “Today” show in January 2020.
Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
7. What is a career moment you’re most proud of?
Well last year, our athletic director at Navarro created an athletic hall of fame. I was inducted as the inaugural inductee. It’s a pretty big thing — especially because I still work here. I would assume this type of honor is for people that no longer work here, however, they inducted 10 people and I was one of the very first 10 people.8. What is one of your favorite phrases or quotes?I didn’t realize it was going to get so much attention from the show, but this saying: “Keep going until you get it right and then keep going until you can’t get it wrong.” It’s a motto we live by on the team.Another saying I love is: “To whom much is given, much will be required.” To me, that means when you’re blessed with things, you should definitely pay it forward.
9. What’s the biggest misconception about you?I think going back to what I was saying about not reading the negative comments, some of the things I read were that I cared more about my own ego than the health of the kids. But that’s the furthest from the truth.Obviously the series showed a lot of the falls and kids getting hurt — which shows the guts, strength, and determination that goes into the sport. Having even one person think that I would jeopardize the health of my kids is absolutely gut-wrenching to me.
“Cheer” is a six-part docuseries.
10. Is there a behind-the-scenes detail about the making of “Cheer” that fans would be surprised to learn?
I think the fact that the crew filmed 12 hours a day for months, and had to edit it all down to just six hours is mind-blowing. I never imagined how much time and work goes into making a docuseries — it’s so much more than I could have ever fathomed.There were so many things we did that weren’t shown or didn’t make it into the six episodes. I’ve seen comments from fans that they’re surprised that prelims take place and then finals, because that wasn’t shown.On the show, they only show the final competition. But prelims are the day before and we compete there and then turn around and compete at finals the next day in order of how you’re ranked at prelims. So there’s a lot of stuff that was filmed that didn’t quite make it in the final cut.
Monica Aldama on Netflix’s “Cheer.”
11. What was the moment you knew you made it?
I don’t know if you ever know “you’ve made it.” There’s a lot of moments I feel like I made a step in the right direction.The first one being in the first national championship in 2000. We’ve gained a lot of respect over the years and now that the show has come out, people realize how hard cheerleading actually is and the athleticism that these kids possess.Winning national championships, bringing positive exposure to the college, being able to film this docuseries, and educate the world about what we do in college cheerleading — all of those to me are big accomplishments and steps in the right direction. Who knows what it takes to actually “make it?” I’m still working on it and am definitely proud of the positive stepping stones I’ve hit along the way.12. Why is this partnership with Objective Wellness’s Fast Sleep a natural fit for you?
What started out as a partnership as I prepared for our biggest competition of the year, has truly become part of my nightly routine and such a go-to during this unique time. I can honestly say every night before I go to bed I take one square and it helps me to relax and not only fall asleep when I need but helps keep me asleep.13. How does it factor into your typical health and wellbeing routine?Sleep is more important than ever. Fast Asleep is a great sleep aid that brings you quality sleep from the unique relaxing combination of saffron and GABA. Sleep can affect productivity and concentration. We are faced with new challenges, and still expected to be 100% at everything — whether it is work, finding your new balance, keeping loved ones healthy and happy. Productivity and concentration are needed more than ever stemming from a good night’s sleep.
A post shared by Monica Aldama (@monicaaldama)May 28, 2020 at 4:33pm PDT 14. How are you trying to maintain normalcy in your life amid the pandemic?
When it first hit I took a week to mourn the situation. All of the information coming out was shocking and I, as was my team, was devastated that the season was canceled.After a few days, I picked myself back up, and although we were sheltering in place, the college still allowed me to come in for work, so I tried to keep my normal routine as much as possible. I focused on tryouts and creating a new team and getting ready for them next year. Also, I was preparing for camp, and in my mind, just proceeded as if next season will happen as normal and to push through with that mindset.I was definitely home a lot more, but tried to keep my focus on work. I like work a lot. I realized very quickly that I need structure and need to leave my house. And although I enjoyed my time at home with my family, I quickly learned that I do not like working from home.15. Do you have any tips on how people can cope with what’s going on in the world?
I think definitely focusing on your attitude will keep you in check. I am a big believer that everything will fall into place with the right attitude. Jerry [Harris, from “Cheer”] said it best the other day: “To have an attitude for gratitude,” meaning: be thankful for the things you have in life, and not to focus on the negatives.Obviously there is a lot of negative in the world right now, but taking a step back and trying to appreciate the things that are positive really helps you put things into perspective and be grateful for the daily things we take for granted: our health, work, going to the store, etc.I would say, try to focus on what you can do to be better or improve, whether it’s something you never even thought you’d dream up. Mental health is super important.