Aldama's retirement comes three weeks after a lawsuit against her was dismissed
Monica Aldama, the head cheerleading coach at the center of Netflix’s Cheer series, has announced she plans to retire from coaching at the end of this semester.
“I always knew that my time coaching would eventually come to an end, and I would pursue other opportunities,” Aldama, 51, wrote Sunday afternoon on Instagram. “I have prayed a lot about what direction God was leading me in, and it was that prayer that I felt the tug that God was pushing me into a different role and different purpose.”
Aldama said “I know that I can still help effectuate changes that we need in the world, and certainly in the sport of cheerleading.”
“I felt His calling and I knew the timing was right for this to be my last season coaching,” the longtime Navarro College coach continued. “He has big plans for me, and I will faithfully follow where He is leading me.”
Aldama’s retirement comes three weeks after a lawsuit accusing her of covering up one of her cheerleader’s sexual assault was dismissed.
In April, the cheerleader had filed a civil suit claiming that Aldama, as well as former teammates and other school officials, had discouraged them from filing a report about the alleged assault. The cheerleader accused Aldama of saying she would help the victim in her career in exchange for not filing a report.
Aldama was suspended by USA Gymnastics for six months until the sport’s highest governing body closed its investigation into the coach last month. Aldama had previously described the accusations as "wildly inaccurate” in a statement shared with PEOPLE and wrote on Instagram last month that the controversy — and her suspension — had left her “broken, a shell of myself.”
"I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and most of the time it was hard to even breathe," Aldama had written.
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Navarro College first announced Aldama’s retirement last week, describing her career as “illustrious” and “nothing short of extraordinary.” Navarro helped lead the team to 17 national titles since she became its head cheerleading coach in 2000.
She and the squad later rose to fame when Netflix released its 2020 series Cheer about the team. The Emmy-winning series’ popularity led to Aldama making appearances on programs such as Today, Good Morning America, and Ellen. The coach was spoofed on Saturday Night Live and later appeared as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
Aldama, who was affectionately known as “The Queen” by her cheerleading squad, confirmed her retirement Sunday with a lengthy social media post.
“Wow! What a run!” Aldama wrote. “It’s been incredible what these amazing athletes have accomplished. From day one, my whole world has revolved around the Navarro College program and every cheerleader that has come through those doors. Every athlete has made me who I am and has made me a better person, a better coach, a better friend, and a better human. They have taught me lessons I never would have learned had I chosen a different career path.”
The New York Times reports that Aldama’s attorney Russel Prince said part of her decision to retire after the Fall 2023 semester was because she planned to file counter litigation surrounding her suspension earlier this year. Aldama “did not want forthcoming litigation” to “distract from the upcoming Navarro College cheer season,” her attorney told the Times.
Aldama celebrated the dismissed lawsuit against her last month but expressed frustration with her suspension and how the controversy played out.
“Moving forward, we must all do better,” she wrote in a long statement discussing the lawsuit’s dismissal. “We are all acutely aware of concerning issues in cheer. Those issues need to be dealt with. Our athletes deserve to be listened to. They deserve to be believed, However, participants caught up in matters such as these, specifically coaches, need to be treated with respect and fairness as well.”
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