CHEER Live Is Making History and Inspiring The Next Generation 

By Ashlee Buhler 

A group of young girls gather near the front of the CHEER Live stage to take pictures — their shirts read “Future Navarro Cheerleader.” The crowd erupts into cheers as they watch some of the world’s best cheerleaders flip and fly through the air, doing stunts worthy of being on the mat in Daytona. Screams ripple through the city after the show as fans line the fences near the tour bus, just hoping to get a glimpse of their idols. This is the scene at the CHEER Live Tour. 

The world first fell in love with them on the Emmy Award-winning Netflix docuseries “CHEER.” Now they’re taking the country by storm with a never-been-done-before show that combines thrilling stunts and entertaining dance numbers performed by fan-favorites from programs all across the country including Navarro, Trinity Valley, and Team USA! 

The idea for the show was born in the mind of producer Nikole Vallins, who just like the rest of the world watched “CHEER” on Netflix. Shortly after season one aired in January 2020, Vallins set up a meeting with Navarro assistant coach Andy Cosferent to discuss her vision of creating a multi-city tour that transforms competitive cheerleading into a premiere athletic event staged with the epic production value of a live concert. Vallins flew out to Corsicana, Texas to meet with Cosferent and Navarro head coach, Monica Aldama. Everything clicked and the rest is history. “I was like, ‘It’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard but I’m in! Let’s do it!” Aldama said. 

The 90-minute show was put together in a matter of three weeks — quite the difference from the several month timeframe these athletes spend preparing one 2 minute and 15 second routine to perform at the end of their season. The show kicked off in Rogers, Arkansas on June 8th and when that very first show concluded, Aldama said the emotions came rushing in. 

“The adrenaline rush when the lights come on at the end and all those people are out there in front yelling for you… I think we all pretty much cried some tears that night when the show was over because it was such a high,” she said. “Getting to do what we love in a completely different environment where nobody is wanting you to lose and nobody wants to beat you, they’re all there to support you and love you and be entertained — It’s an incredible experience!” 

The show is unique in that sense. It allows the athletes to simply enjoy performing, without the restraints of score sheets, time limits, and a judging panel to impress. It’s just the cast and their fans, appreciating everything the sport has to offer. It’s a completely different feeling than anything they’ve experienced before but the end result is just as fulfilling and rewarding as any title-winning competition routine they’ve done. 

“It’s crazy because I feel like the amount of pressure we have at competitions is what we create in our heads because it’s like, ‘Oh we’re going against other teams and this has to be done right or it could be illegal’ or this or that,’” cast member Gabi Butler told us after the show. “It’s great because there’s no rules. There’s no competing against anyone. We’re just having a good time, doing what we love.”

Inside Cheer was onsite at both the Atlanta and Grand Rapid stops and the atmosphere was electric! Not only are the athletes performing some of the most difficult stunts possible, they’re pouring every ounce of energy they have into the dance portions. There’s no holding back. 

“Honestly it was hard in the beginning but now we know when we need to breathe and where we don’t need to breathe,” said cast member James Thomas. “Usually when I’m on the side I take big deep breaths and I’m like, ‘I got it. I got. I got it.’ And when I get out there I’m like, ‘You serve it until you’re off the floor. You can breathe when you’re dead.’” 

Taking in one show is enough to inspire the next generation of cheerleaders, while making the average person fall in love with the sport. The numbers are cleverly choreographed, some with fun themes meant to entertain (such as a Tik Tok number and a Pep Rally) some intended to educate (why not learn how the sport got its start?) and others meant to inspire the next generation of cheerleaders to be their true authentic selves. 

“It’s literally the craziest experience being able to see everybody’s faces when we’re on the floor,” said cast member Javon Kendrick. “It’s so inspiring knowing that we’re sending such a big message for the crowd and the next generation of cheerleading.”

The tour provides opportunities for the fans to connect with the cast on a more personal level. Those who upgrade to a VIP package have the opportunity to take a group photo with the cast, take home a signed poster, and attend a pre-show question and answer session with the cast. The “Make Mat” upgrade takes things a step further, allowing fans to learn a dance combination to be performed on stage alongside the cast during the show! 

Living life on a tour bus and performing full out every night isn’t easy – in fact it’s exhausting – but Butler said the moments where she can connect with the fans makes everything worth it. The tour is also making history – opening the door for future opportunities for professional cheerleaders to make money doing what they love. 

“It’s been very humbling to see all the kids that look up to us,” she said. “I really wanted to just make an impact on at least one kid’s life with this show and just tell them, ‘Hey, you can be up here one day!’ I feel like we’re changing cheerleading and saying, ‘You can make this into a career.”

Thomas echoed that sentiment. If there’s one thing he wants fans to take away from the show it’s the thought that no dream is ever too big. “You never know where you’re going to end up someday,” he said. “So as long as you train as hard as you can and you push yourself, you’re going to make it to the top.”

It’s not too late to see this amazing show yourself! Get your tickets to CHEER Live at  

Photography by Amanda Mazonkey 

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