LOS ANGELES – If you thought “Toddlers & Tiaras” or “Dance Moms” were shocking, get the defibrilators ready for TLC’s new drama-driven reality special “Cheer Perfection.”
A nationals-winning coach and 18-year veteran of perfecting pint-sized girls and their pom poms, coach Alicia Dunlap heads up Cheer Time Revolution in Arkansas with her husband, and expects absolute perfection from each and every one of her very young all-star cheerleading hopefuls.
“If you fall again, I will have to replace you,” she warns her own five-year-old daughter, calls another student “a dingbat” and chastises one for crying under the pressure.
“Every kid is different, you have to know how to treat each one but you have to be pushed,” Dunlap told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Cheerleading is a sport; people don’t realize how hard these kids work.”
And there’s a lot at stake.
“Colleges give full-paid scholarships for cheerleaders,” she continued. “Cheering teaches kids not just to be great as individuals, but as a team.”
But getting these pint-sized athletes to flawlessly execute flips, splits and double round-off into back handsprings isn’t the biggest challenge for Dunlap – it’s keeping the ultra-competitive “gym moms” in-line.
“The moms that come here, they like to win more than I do,” she admitted.
One mom says she doesn’t care what Dunlap does to her daughter so long as she makes her the best, another laments her daughter’s back injury jeopardizing her audition opportunities, and another mother refuses to “spend all this money (for her daughter) to lose.”
The TLC cameras capture the shocking catfights, tears, tantrums, and rivalries that take place inside the walls of Cheer Revolution, but the series has a lot of heart too.
“Life is a challenge, and cheering teaches girls to go for their dreams,” Dunlap added. “Watching their happiness when they finally nail something, that’s what keeps me motivated.”
TLC’s “Cheer Perfection” kicks off (pun intended) on Wed, 10/9c.