Caged BirdBy Maya Angelou
The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom
The free bird thinks of another breeze and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.
Since it was released in January 2020, the Netflix documentary series “Cheer” became a sensation and its cast overnight superstar athletes. The six-episode series follows the championship-winning squad from Navarro College, a junior college in Corsicana, Texas. The series focuses on the 2019 team’s journey to the National Cheerleaders Association’s National Championship, as well as the team members’ personal lives and how grueling the sport is. The cast is seen constantly practicing and training, pushing their bodies to the breaking point that really sheds a whole new light on the sport of cheerleading. So many people outside of the cheer world assume it’s a silly, fun, no-sweat sport, but the athletes prove they are the best of the best.
Gabi Butler, a flyer on the Navarro team who was famous in the cheerleading world for her stunts and YouTube channel even before the show aired, told Insider the Netflix portrayal was true to life. “We’re basically cheering all day on,” Gabi Butler told Insider. The team members typically spend the first half of the day as normal college students, but when it hits 12:30 p.m., they head to practice. The Navarro team practices for three hours every day. Practices consist of “whatever Monica feels like working on that day. Sometimes she’ll focus only on stunting; sometimes she’ll only focus on tumbling.” Tumbling is solo, while stunting requires a partner or a group. “Usually Tuesdays and Thursdays are jump-tumble days, and then Monday, Wednesday, Friday are stunts and when we’re getting repped in everything,” she added.
“I would only work out outside of the gym for like an hour or two,” Butler said of her routine at Navarro. “We do cheer so much that it’s — I mean an hour is pretty much all I can do or I’ll like mentally and physically be exhausted.” When asked if the schedule was tiring, Butler said: “You have no idea.” Butler said cheerleading was worth it for her despite the physical and mental toll it takes on her. “My favorite thing about being a cheerleader is probably the friendships you make,” she told Insider. She said she speaks to her teammates from Navarro every day, and often writes on Instagram that they’re like her family.