TLC's 'Cheer Perfection' Loaded With Competition, Pressure, Catfights

ABC News Blogs

In Sherwood, Ark., where cheerleaders are like royalty, Alisha Dunlap is the queen bee.

TLC's new reality-TV show, "Cheer Perfection," depicts the competitive world of cheerleading, and shows that the cheerleaders' mothers are just as competitive as their daughters and are unapologetic about living vicariously through them.

The show takes viewers behind the scenes of a sport that is not for the faint of heart. And Dunlap, the co-owner and coach of Cheer Time Revolution in Sherwood, is tough.

"If you fall again, I'm going to replace you," she tells daughter Cambry, a cheerleader.

Asked whether she could be viewed as being too hard on the cheerleaders, Dunlap said, "These kids know me so well. It doesn't even bother them. … I think they like to get me excited. They know I care."

Cambry, 5, and Cassidy, 10, are two of Dunlap's three daughters. They and dozens of other girls are trying out for the coveted silver youth squad.

Asked whether she ever gets mad at her mother for yelling at her, Cassidy said, "Yes, yes."

She added that she channeled that anger into cheerleading.

Some of the mothers on the show explained their own passion for the sport.

"I wasn't a cheerleader as a child and I don't see anything wrong with living through your child," Bonnie Crow said.

Ann Robinson agrees.

"I wasn't given all the things that Torin was given as a child," she said of her 10-year-old daughter. "If she wants to do cheerleading, I want to make sure that she has the very best."

But isn't it about how you play the game, not just about winning or losing?

Not to Robinson.

"Torin played softball this year. And everybody got a trophy. Well, that's not fun to me. I want to know that my kid is number one," she said.

The mothers' competitiveness can bubble up into catfights, and the series has scenes of the women arguing with each other.

Dunlap said that cheerleading seemed so intense because "the kids can do so much, so much more than even they know they can do. So with a little bit of a push, give them a little bit of drive, they'll be great."

When they're not great, there isn't much sympathy. In one scene, Crow pushes her daughter Elena to perform a move during a tryout. The girl falls, and lands on her head.

"What was the problem? You'd be lucky to get on any team," Crow tells her.

"I don't want to talk about it," Elena says.

"Well, I want to talk about it," her mother replies.

"I was scared," Elena says.

Explaining why she took such a tone with Elena, Crows said, "I expect a lot from my daughter. We spend a lot of money at cheer. And when she did that, I was very upset with her. … I expect my daughter to do good. And that was not going to cut it."

As for whether her daughter could have been hurt, Crow said, "I knew she wasn't. These floors have plenty of padding. She was fine."

Not all of them are as fortunate. Cheerleader Brooke Ashworth,13, was diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae. Despite months of pain, as soon as the doctor says she can try some hand springs, she plans to head straight from the doctor's appointment to Cheer Time.

"I was kind of scared of what was going to happen, but I was kind of excited," she said. "When you're in cheerleading, you have to suck it up and get over any pain."

"I knew if I kept saying that I couldn't do it, or I didn't want to do it, I would get in a lot of trouble for it."

“Cheer Perfection” premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.


View Comments (20)

Recommended for You

  • 2 Trains Collide in Germany, 10 Dead, at Least 100 Injured

    Two morning commuter trains have collided in Bad Aibling in southern Germany, raising the death toll to 10 people and injuring more than 100 others, police said.The train manufacturer, Meridian, released a statement in German, saying two trains collided just after 7 a.m. today local time. One…

    Good Morning America9 mins ago
  • Baby Sloth Flies in Private Jet to New Home at National Aviary in Pittsburgh

    A baby sloth was recently flown on a private jet from a breeder in Florida to his new home at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 3-month-old Linnaeus sloth "enjoyed the flight very much," National Aviary marketing coordinator Laura Smith told ABC News today. The tiny sloth,…

    Good Morning America15 mins ago
  • Slain Virginia Teen Discussed 'Her Boyfriend' Before Abduction, Friend Says

    A friend of the 13-year-old Virginia girl who was allegedly abducted and murdered last month said the teen had told her about an older "boyfriend" before she went missing. Nicole Lovell, 13, was found dead four days after going missing in late-January and Virginia Tech students David Eisenhauer,…

    Good Morning America27 mins ago
  • Husband Settles Bed-Hogging Debate With Laser Down the Middle

    If your significant other hogs the bed, this man has a solution: Set up a laser down the middle.Jon Nagel, of Dallas, Texas, posted this hilarious photo to Reddit where it’s now going viral with nearly 1 million views. The caption reads, “In our house there is no debate, ONLY DATA.”He said he…

    Good Morning America49 mins ago
  • Brie Larson Hasn't Seen or Spoken to Her Dad in 10 Years

    Brie Larson is up for an Oscar for her emotionally-wrenching performance of a woman held captive in a garden shed for seven years in the film "Room."Some of the inspiration for her performance, the 26-year-old actress told Elle in a new interview, comes from her own life and difficult childhood.…

    Good Morning America51 mins ago
  • Zika Virus Outbreak Updates: Florida Expands State of Emergency to 7th County

    As the Zika virus outbreak continues, including in wide swaths of Central and South America, concerns are growing, especially for pregnant women, because the mosquito-borne virus has been linked with a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain. …

    Good Morning America53 mins ago
  • Incredible Footage Shows Pedestrian Tripping Suspect as He's Running From Police

    Officers were on patrol in Kingston, United Kingdom, on Saturday when they were made aware of a report of two males dealing drugs, police said in a statement. The officers chased one of the suspects through the town center "when they received some unexpected assistance from a member of the…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Serial' Convict Adnan Syed's Hearing Wrapping Up

    Lawyers trying to get a new trial for Adnan Syed, the convicted killer at the center of hit podcast “Serial,” and the state attorneys who are hoping to keep him behind bars are making their closing arguments today after resting their respective cases in Syed's bid for a retrial. Syed’s lawyers --…

    Good Morning America
  • Behind the Scenes of ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

    Yang, together with 11-year-old Forrest Wheeler, who plays Emery, and Ian Chen, 9, as Evan, had to get up to speed on the pop culture of the mid-1990s, when the sitcom is set. "I probably had to learn, a lot, too, like, about the rap music, about the culture," Yang said. ABC News’ Chris Connelly…

    Good Morning America
  • Jeb Bush's Fall (or Maybe Rise)

    On the eve of today’s New Hampshire presidential primary, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush finished his day at the Frank Jones Center on the seacoast, the same locale where another unlikely GOP contender, John McCain, once hosted his final town hall in a state that he ultimately won eight…

    Good Morning America
  • Officers Give Basketball Hoop to Neighborhood Kids Playing Without Backboard

    Three Ohio police officers gave a big assist Friday night when they gave neighborhood children a new basketball hoop. "This was something that was basically from their hearts," Chief Jim Toles of the Lockland Police Department in Lockland, Ohio, told ABC News. Toles said that Officers Drew Jones,…

    Good Morning America
  • Teresa Giudice Reveals Why She Doesn't Blame Her Husband for Her Prison Term

    In her first live TV interview since being released from prison, Teresa Giudice said she does not blame her husband, Joe Giudice, for the couple’s legal troubles. “No, I don’t,” Giudice, 42, said today on “Good Morning America” when asked if she held Joe responsible. The “Real Housewives of New…

    Good Morning America
  • Zika Virus Outbreak: Consumer Reports Shares Best Zika-Fighting Repellents

    With concern surrounding the Zika virus at an all-time high, Consumer Reports has re-released its exclusive ratings of mosquito repellents that best protect against the mosquitoes that spread the virus. Officials Monday announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emergency…

    Good Morning America
  • UCLA Gymnast's Floor Routine Goes Viral With Dab, Nae Nae Moves

    One gymnast is tumbling into Facebook glory with more than 22 million views on her epic hip-hop-themed floor routine.Sophina DeJesus, a senior at UCLA, nailed her floor routine versus Utah with moves that would make even Beyoncé proud. She struts, she dabs and she Nae Naes in her shiny silver and…

    Good Morning America
  • Marco Rubio Believes He Must Be ‘Doing Something Right’

    Sen. Marco Rubio today brushed off recent attacks by his GOP rivals, saying he must be "doing something right," and expressing confidence despite what he called the "unusual set up" in today’s New Hampshire primary. Despite Christie's attacks, Rubio believes he had "a very strong debate," and…

    Good Morning America
  • John Kasich’s New Hampshire Primary Day Prediction: ‘We’re Going to Finish Very Strong’

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose campaign has maintained a laser-like focus on performing well in today’s New Hampshire primary, declined to predict exactly how he would place once all the votes are counted here, but sounded a note of confidence in an interview today on "Good Morning America.""We’re…

    Good Morning America
  • Hong Kong 'Fish Ball Revolution' Erupts in Violent Crackdown

    Violent clashes erupted overnight in Hong Kong after protesters defended unlicensed food vendors, set up for Chinese New Year celebrations, from being shut down by police. The group said on its official Facebook page that its candidate for local council, Edward Leung Tin-kei, had been arrested.

    Good Morning America