"I'm so passionate about these kids and I love doing it," said head coach Monica Aldama
The championship cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, had a lot of reasons to celebrate on Thursday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Not only were the student athletes at the center of Netflix’s hit sports docu-series Cheer given a chance to perform their high-flying routine — which won them their 14th National Cheerleaders Association National Championship title — but they were also given a major gift on the show: a whopping $20,000 check, courtesy of Shutterfly.
“We know that you have a lot of money that you have to raise to compete each year, so our friends at Shutterfly want to cheer you on,” DeGeneres said.
Their news had everyone on the stage, well, cheering — even Head Coach Monica Aldama.
“I’ve done this for 25 years and even though I thought it was a temporary job [at first], I just can’t see myself giving it up,” she told DeGeneres. “I’m so passionate about these kids and I love doing it.”
As she jumped up and down, she was joined by shouts and smiles by her superstar team.
Cheer breakout stars Jerry Harris, Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall, Lexi Brumback, Morgan Simianer, Mackenzie “Sherbs” Sherburn, Allie Ross, James Thomas, TT Barker, Shannon Woolsey and Austin Bayles all returned to perform on Ellen, even though some have already moved on from the two-year college after the events of the series.
Prior to their performance, Harris, Butler and Marshall sat down with Aldama and DeGeneres to chat about the series.
During their chat, Harris showed off his mat talk skills, and Marshall opened up about his tough childhood.
Butler — who is “cheer famous,” with over 1 million followers on Instagram — also responded to backlash her parents have received after viewers on the series questioned whether they were pushing her too hard.
“When the show came out, we all watched it together as a family. It was a really big eye-opener for all of us,” Butler, 22, said. “My parents were like, ‘Wow, maybe we do need to be more independent and let her make her own decisions for herself.’ And I really do think that it was great for me because I really started to love myself more and being like, ‘I need to be more positive for myself.’ So I’m really grateful for the show.”
The conversation ended with Aldama discussing how she stands by her students no matter what, especially as they face adversity in the conservative Corsicana.
“These are like my kids,” she said. “They come to me with their problems. I hear the stories. I see the tears. And I would never want anyone to feel like they were less than for how they were born. I’m really passionate about it and I want to protect them through anything.”
Cheer is streaming now on Netflix. The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs weekdays in syndication (check local listings).