Coach Monica Aldama’s tough conversation with Lexi Brumback
Like a lot of people, I enjoyed Cheer, for a lot of reasons. It’s wonderful to see elite athletes at work – to see the enthusiasm, mentality and practice that goes in to being able to compete at such a high level – these everyday humans completing these amazing feats.
One of the cheer team members, Lexi, is amazingly talented but struggles to make good decisions, in a way that reminds me, a little, of people I used to know. Nice people who were seduced by parties and partying, and whose lives now look pretty different from mine.
My heart went out to Lexi, because sometimes the grind of making good choices has been tough for me. It’s not easy, getting up every day and making good choices. It’s not always easy, applying for things, going to practice, going to work, dealing with all the things that happen in these “good” places. I’ve had periods where I wanted to “take a break” and just hang out for a while, and I haven’t had nearly the same uphill battle as Lexi (though I don’t have the same talents, either).
At the end of Season 1, Lexi is no longer on the Navarro Cheer team, and coach Monica Aldama talks about a conversation she had with Lexi. Monica retells:
I feel like you need me still.
But I can’t be there with you in Houston, and you can’t be here with me, because of your choices.
Look, don’t you want a job where you can by a car, if you want to go buy a car? You can buy a house, if you want to buy a house? Don’t you want a husband that is gonna treat you like a queen, but that works hard and has a good job and that can buy you the things that you want? That y’all could have children, and you can raise them better than you’ve ever had it?
Beautiful, right? So concise, so direct. And true – for all your hard work, for all your “good choices”, that’s the payoff. It’s not fame or unimaginable fortune, it’s a pretty simple fortune. A job that pays enough to not worry about every.little.thing. A job that pays enough to give you room for some little luxuries. You get a good job, where people treat you nicely, and you earn enough that you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get from point A to point B, and where the bank will approve you for a mortgage, and you can live somewhere nice.
And if you’re reliable and hard working and have a good life, maybe you’ll meet someone who is nice to you, who treats you kindly, who works hard and is reliable and takes you out for dinner sometimes, and you can have children, and you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for summer camp.
Then she says:
I mean, she was crying, you know, and like, said, “Yes. Absolutely.”
I said, “Well, whatever pathway you decide to take, it’s gonna lead you there or it’s gonna lead you in the complete opposite direction. And if you’re not hanging out with the right people, I can promise you, you’ll go downhill fast.”
There are people who luck out into having good jobs, nice homes, and nice spouses without having to do as much work, it’s true. The kids from Navarro, though, for many of them – for kids like that – it’s harder. A lot of these athletes, they don’t have parents who are going to help them buy houses, or help them pay for school. These are scholarship kids, who have worked very hard to get these cheer scholarships, and are trying to parlay their community college cheer scholarships into opportunity to have good, well-paying jobs. Either by securing another scholarship to complete a Bachelor’s degree, or by using their training and associate’s degree into something else. It’s a lot of work; it looks like a lot of work.
Doing that much work, you can’t party all the time. You can’t take lots of breaks. You don’t get unlimited chances. That’s what I thought Monica meant by “hanging out with the right people”. When you hang out with other people who are trying to have nice lives, people who you can go to the library and study with, for example – it’s going to make that whole process easier.
Anyway, it was a great show, and very inspiring.