Houstonian Lexi Brumback joined the Navarro College cheer squad to turn her life around. “If I wouldn’t have come here, I’d be sitting in a jail cell right now,” she says in the first episode of Netflix’s docuseries Cheer. A high school dropout with a history of getting into fights, the twenty-year-old found solace with the team’s strict regimen and coach Monica Aldama’s high expectations.
Brumback’s formidable tumbling skills landed her a spot on the competitive team, but by the end of the show, we’re told that she was kicked off. Brumback took the blame for illegal substances allegedly found in a car when she and friends were pulled over, and Aldama has a strict zero-tolerance policy. It was a heartbreaking moment in the show, but shortly after Cheer aired, Aldama gave Brumback a second chance and she rejoined the team.
We caught up with Brumback to see what she’s up to On Texas Time.
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On returning to the team:
An old cheer coach that’s an alumni from Navarro, and also my parents, pushed me to get back over here. They reached out to Monica. I guess that she saw that I wasn’t my mistakes and that my intentions were pure, and she was open to giving me a second chance. That’s probably the best thing that she’s ever done for me, because I’m just going to prove to her that I can do good and I can make her proud and that I can reflect the program in a positive way. That’s my goal—that’s what I’m striving for is just to make sure there’s no way that she could possibly regret giving me a second chance, because it has changed my life for the better.
On the biggest challenges she faces on the team:
Getting used to the schedule was the hardest … I’ve never been so busy in my life. Monica definitely kept us on a very tight schedule, but I think that everything that she’s taught us are all things that we’ll bring into our lives after we leave cheer—like being on time, holding yourself to a high standard, just trying your hardest at anything you do because she pushes us on the mat. But she also pushes us when we’re doing our schoolwork. She wants us to succeed in our classes.
And, also, pushing my body every day in practice, because even though I’ve been in cheer for so long, I’ve never really practiced every single day the way we do here. We practice seven times in five days and it takes some getting used to. But eventually, I learned to love how busy I was because it made me feel so productive. It’s a good feeling.
On dealing with nerves and stage fright:
I’ve been in cheer for twelve years, but the nerves never get easier. I swear, every time I’m standing backstage I get so nervous—even if I know I’ll do my routine really well. I’m usually never scared for myself. I’m usually more nervous for the stunts to stay up. But you just have to tell yourself, “We’ve done this over a hundred times by now, we just have to trust in the process and trust that muscle memory will kick in and everyone will be fine.”
It’s really scary going onto the stage. It’s probably the most adrenaline-racing part of it is walking onto the stage. But once you hear that music kick on, you go into autopilot mode and pretty much do what you’ve been doing all year.
On trust and teamwork:
If you don’t trust your team, you’re not going to have a winning team. You have to be confident that the people on the mat are going to push and fight for you. And if you don’t have trust, you’d just be fighting against each other. You need to come together as one if you want that national title. That’s probably one of the most important things is trust, and friendship of course. The closer you are to someone, the more you want to fight for them or you don’t want to let them down.
On practical advice:
I’ve actually gotten a lot of messages from people saying “you’ve inspired me to keep pushing through the darkness and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.” And a lot of people have said that I’m relatable and that they’ve gone through a lot of things I’ve gone through and that I’ve inspired them to push through it. I’d say to them: stay positive and keep making sure that you are making the right decisions because you are not your past. You can keep going through whatever you’re going through, because things get dark before they get brighter, and every bad thing that happens is for you to learn from that and just become stronger from that.
On her plans after Navarro:
I’m actually trying to decide if I want to do a third year at Navarro or not. It depends on what kind of opportunities I have waiting for me at the end of this semester. There are so many doors that have opened and so many places that I could go. If I have a really good business opportunity waiting for me at the end of this semester, then I’m going to run with that because I want to have a bright future.