One of the most exciting developments of Cheer Season 2 was the addition of the Trinity Valley Community College cheer team, Navarro's fiercest rivals located just 40 miles away in Athens, Texas. Trinity Valley also had a fierce reputation and their ability to match Navarro's towering pyramids and jaw-dropping stunts has only increased since former cheerleader Vontae Johnson returned to the school to coach. Cheer Season 2 gave an inside look at how Vontae has been building up the team with a very different style from Monica Aldama at Navarro, and at the center of his team was a talented tumbler and flyer named Jada Wooten.
When we first meet Jada in the docuseries, she's in her second year at Trinity Valley and still nursing the wounds of a bitter loss to Navarro at Daytona the year prior. She's more determined than ever to win a championship ring and has absolutely no problem letting her teammates know when they aren't pulling their weight on the mat. Unfortunately, Jada wasn't able to redeem herself at Daytona in her second year as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the competition and forced millions of college students back home for months as they waited to see how the virus would shape the rest of their academic and athletic careers.
Jada was able to return to Trinity Valley for a third and final year, becoming an unofficial leader of a team of majority rookies that made up one of the most impressive squads the Valley had seen in years. Not only was the cheerleader able to claim victory at the end of her junior college tenure, but her tenacity and no-B.S. attitude made her one of the breakout stars of the new season. Now cheering at Sam Houston University in Texas and planning a trip to Daytona with a four-year school, Jada made time to talk to TV Guide about life post-Cheer and give us the behind-the-scenes scoop of what it was really like at nationals before TVCC took home the big win.
How has your life changed since the show has come out?
Jada Wooten: It hasn't changed drastically. I'm still going through the motions of my normal, everyday routine, just adding a couple of interviews here and there, but it's going great.
What was your first reaction when you first watched this season and saw what Netflix put together after filming for two years?
Wooten: It was awesome. The best part was seeing an outside perspective looking in on the Valley and competing, which was probably one of my favorite scenes when we were on the bandshell, because you don't get that kind of perspective even as an athlete or a coach.
What was it like for you at the start of filming? Because the production for this season started as the first season of the show was coming out and Navarro became a household name overnight.
Wooten: It was definitely an experience. It was a little nerve-racking at first because that's a lot of eyes. Just having two teams in the division means that there were just as [many] eyes that were going to be on us as were on them. As far as the filming process and all of that goes, it was very surreal.
It felt like there was a big difference in the Jada we meet in the first half of the season and the one who comes back after the COVID-19 break. Can you talk about what you went through during that break and how your mindset was different coming into that final year?
Wooten: The COVID year was really, really hard. We were extremely confident in ourselves, in our routine, in the whole process. It was going as the best that [it] could have and COVID hit on my birthday. We got the news that we weren't competing at Daytona, so that was hard. That was really hard, but knowing I had the opportunity to come back and get a ring and fight for it — I was just as happy and excited as I was the year prior.
Did it feel like your position on the team changed between those two years? It felt like you were more of a leader in the last season.
Wooten: Yes, I think that did change. It wasn't even necessarily a role of mine. I think it was just growth and trying to understand that we can still do what we came to do and make it an even more fun and enlightening process. I think my next year I learned to enjoy it more — It was probably just the fact that it was my last year… just wanted to make the best out of everything I could.
I think one of the times your leadership skills were most apparent was in Daytona after the preliminaries. You were really backing up what Vontae was saying about keeping a positive attitude and boosting the team. Can you talk about how you were feeling in that moment and how you were still able to motivate the team?
Wooten: I wasn't worrying at all. I don't care if they dropped every single stunt or every tumbling pass. I had no worries. I had full faith in my team, my coaches, myself, and the routine. In those moments, there's no room for doubt at all and I wanted everyone around me to know that as well. And they did. They knew that before. The only nerve-racking part for some of them was the fact that the majority of the team was rookies and hadn't experienced Daytona before. That's where Cole and I came in as comfort for them because they can hear the coaches cheering them on and everything. It's just how like your parents are always telling you, "Oh, you look great," and always hype you up because you're [their] kid. But we all had full trust in each other and I think that was one of the [easiest] feelings going into Daytona for sure.
In the finale of Season 2, Coach Franklin makes a comment after Trinity Valley got their preliminary scores that he believed the judges wanted you to win. And Monica says your scores were higher than she thought they should be. It implies there might have been an anti-Navarro sentiment at Daytona that might have been helping you guys. Is that something that you felt while you were there and how did you feel about that being in the documentary?
Wooten: I believe that [Franklin] meant that in the most positive way, to have us understand that this is one of the most put together and talented teams in the last 10 years of the Valley. Even though we had all this pressure on us, [the mission was] to relieve it and know that we were trained for this and we have the ability to get this ring and put all of our hard work into a zero routine.
What is your relationship like with Navarro now, especially now that you and members of that team have the very unique experience of being on this show together?
Wooten: Both sides know that the competitiveness comes from being an athlete in such a crazy ridiculous sport that not everyone can do. Outside of cheer itself, we're all cool. We couldn't be as good as we are without Navarro. If they weren't as good as they were, we wouldn't be able to push ourselves to the limit and have that drive of "We've really got it. We really [need] to nail this and work and work." It's really hard to explain thinking about it because — we need them. We need Navarro and we need them to be top dogs and as great as they are.
Can we talk about Vontae? Because your relationship with him was a key part of this season and seemed integral to help Trinity Valley win.
Wooten: He's a great coach, one of my absolute favorites, and has been a mentor of mine from the time I came until I left. He always put that reassurance in my brain that I have the potential to be great, but I can only be as great as I want to be and that comes with the hard work that you put in. He really just created a whole milestone for us.
Do you think that coaching is potentially in your future? It seems like you'd be really good at it.
Wooten: Coaching would be fine. It's not my No. 1 priority right now. I am still an athlete and I'd like to focus on that, still becoming even better. Would I like coaching? Yes, I would, and I would do it if given the opportunity, probably.
Cheerleading is now an Olympic sport. Could we potentially see you try out for Team USA for the 2024 games?
Wooten: In the future, hopefully, but not this year. I have an interest in Team USA, definitely. Yes.
Cheer Season 2 is now streaming.