After being briefly introduced in Season 1, To cheer Season 2 expands the world of competitive cheerleading with Navarro College’s greatest rival in the sport, Trinity Valley Community College. Just 30 miles down the road in Athens, Texas, the team is led by coach Vontae Johnson and consists of standout athletes Jada Wooten, DeVonte “Dee” Joseph and Angel Rice. And considering they are 12-time national champions, the squad is a force to be reckoned with.
While approached about being pursued in Season 1, Johnson tells ET that they ultimately turned them down “because we wanted to make sure we were focused on our goals of becoming champions.” But as Season 1 shows, TVCC was denied another domestic title after Navarro topped that year.
So if director Greg Whiteley and To cheer came back to see if the team would let their cameras follow them as they prepared for another showdown in Daytona, Fla., they agreed to attend. “We loved how they portrayed our sport,” says Johnson. “So we definitely didn’t turn it down the second time around.”
As Whiteley puts it, “It didn’t take a genius to figure that we should learn something more about this team that faces Navarro every year,” he says. “I just think that in the effort to expand the world in Season 2, it was a pretty obvious choice to try to include her.”
And like Season 1, which featured a slew of breakout stars, Season 2 lets some of the TVCC staff and team members shine. Here’s what audiences need to know about Navarro’s biggest rivals.
Coach Vontae Johnson
A former team member and former soccer player before turning to cheerleading, Johnson led the Cardinals for three years and is determined to see TVCC return to its former glory and take home their first national championship since their clash Wins in 2016 and 2017.
Unlike Navarro’s head coach Monica Aldama, Johnson focuses more on skill and precision than flair and style. “The stylistic differences between the two teams seem to be a reflection of their coaches. Vontae comes from a background in very traditional team sports, basketball and soccer, and I think there’s a way this team approaches the mat that’s emblematic of those sports,” Whiteley said.
And the same goes for Aldama. “Monica is someone who is an avid fan of Dancing with the stars and that shows in the choreography,” the director continues. “She and her choreographers created routines that made it not only a technical demonstration of excellence, but also a performance element that hadn’t existed in cheerleading before.”
A strong and passionate team leader (“She cares so much,” says Whiteley), Wooten is one of the few veterans leading a team of mostly newcomers after the pandemic cut their seniority short.
When it came to figuring out which athletes to follow, Whiteley said Wooten wasn’t a question. “There are only certain people who will burst,” he says. “I think there was a very broad consensus within the production, even for the first 10 minutes of filming at TVCC, that she’s someone that we need to focus on.”
He adds, “She’s the Michael Jordan of this team.”
Despite being one of the best, Wooten almost quit the sport after a bad fall. But she credits Johnson with coaching her in it.
DeVonte “Dee” Joseph
Joseph is one of several incredibly talented tumblers at TVCC. He is the only one on the team who can make five spins, known as a quint. “I’ve never seen anyone do a quint,” says Whiteley, impressed by Joseph’s athleticism.
Interestingly, he was recruited by Navarro but ultimately turned them down for a spot with the Cardinals. One of the reasons he doesn’t go with Navarro is the flair of the team, which makes Joseph less interested as a sportsman.
Despite being second to none, he has attitude and performance issues that often clash with Johnson’s efforts to infuse style into the team’s routine, which the coach believes will finally help them oust their rival.
Rice is another all-star tumbler in the roster whose skills are second to none. “There’s a power about Angel that she has when you film her on the mat as she runs by, it’s electrifying,” says Whiteley in awe.
She’s also a star in the jubilant world, with her fame predating her time with the Cardinals. Years before she joined the team, Rice’s fall went viral, making headlines all over the internet and even taking her to the internet today show where she set a Guinness World Record by performing 10 double full spins in one minute.
She is also a member of the USA Gymnastics team with a focus on tumbling and trampoline. Most recently, she competed in the 2018 championships, where she placed fourth.
–Additional reporting by Lauren Zima
Reference from etonline