When Monica Aldama eagerly headed off for college to study finance, she had big city ambitions. She never imagined she’d end up back in her hometown of Corsicana, much less coaching the country’s top competitive cheerleading team, bringing 14 national championships and the entire country’s attention to the small city.

“It was supposed to be temporary,” says Aldama. “We thought it would be the perfect place to get our family started before…the next big step. But before I knew it, my heartstrings were tied to the place.”

Aldama’s unprecedented dominance of the sport began early in her career as head coach at Navarro College when she meticulously analyzed the competitive cheer competition’s judging system. She broke down the scoring subcategories and discerned precisely how to maximize marks on all fronts, and from there recruited athletes and choreographed routines accordingly. Then, practice.

“Keep going until you get it right. And then keep going until you can’t get it wrong.” Aldama’s often quoted credo guides her flawless team’s rigorous rehearsal regiment, and is the true key to their habitual trouncing of the competition.

When Netflix approached her and pitched the idea of a documentary series featuring her Navarro College squad, Aldama remembers being excited for the exposure the online streaming giant could bring to the sport. But no one expected the lofty degree of viral success to which the show, Cheer, soared in its first month of airing, culminating in an Ellen appearance, capped off with an exhilarating Navarro team routine run in front of the daytime show’s millions of viewers.

All the success has opened new doors for Aldama, and she’s considering all kinds of possibilities for her future. Whether she continues her coaching domination for years to come, two things are certain: Aldama’s immense positive impact on the sport and her athletes’ lives was concreted long ago, and she’s not leaving her beloved Corsicana any time soon.

  • In what ways does Texas influence you, your career, or your story?

Texans by nature can be very competitive and prideful. I’d say no doubt I fit into that category.

Texans also tend to be welcoming and kind, and that’s something I’ve built our program around, in regards to welcoming the new and unique team members who come from all over the state and country.

  • How does an “independent spirit” play a role in your success?

I’ve never been scared to make my own path. When starting out, I approached coaching differently than others at the time. I created my own style and look for the team that was definitely outside the norm. My independent spirit keeps me constantly thinking outside the box.

  • If you had an “Independent Spirit” motto what would that be?

You keep going until you get it right, and then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong.

  • What is your advice to young Texans who may look up to you?

Never give up, keep pushing. You can never dream too big, but you do have to actually get up in the morning and put the work in to reach your goal.

Read the stories of the six other Texans who are breaking boundaries across the Lone Star State here.