roland pollard and his four year old daughter, Jayden, can out stunt anyone.
by Joanne Xu
Born out of total quarantine boredom and a longtime passion for cheerleading, Roland Pollard started teaching his four year old daughter, Jayden Pollard, how to stunt. Tons of throws, spins, and, yes falls later, the daddy daughter duo have been endorsed by Monica Aldama of Netflix’s “Cheer” and a couple hundred thousand strangers.
Pollard, whose day job consists of producing competition music for cheer teams, isn’t your typical coach — much less a typical dad. His philosophy includes real talk over baby talk and never ending practice on a bad note (“you can come back to that bad note, or you can come back on a good note”). We caught up with the cheer dad on viral fame, basket tosses, and seeking out challenge.
01. How did you end up in the cheer world?
I was really big in high school because all I did was lift weights, and my history teacher pulled me out of class one day to ask if I thought I could hold a girl up. I wanted to learn how to do a backflip, so they taught me, and then I wanted to learn how to spin my backflip, and then eventually I wanted to spin it twice. I love physical challenges, and that’s what cheer is. So I just ran with it!
02. When did you know Jayden was ready or wanted to cheer?
She’s four years old, she doesn’t even know what cheer is. I just showed her what partner stunting was and she thought it was fun getting thrown in the air. Jayden likes challenges as well, so I’d be like, ‘I bet you can’t spin it with your feet together’ and she’d be like, ‘yes I can!’
03. Why did you decide to take the daddy daughter videos public?
I’ve always done it! There’s a video of her when she was four months old and I had her in my hand. Then we got to the point where she would go extended, then where I could throw and catch her. After we saw “Cheer” on Netflix, we did a cool stunt sequence and gave Monica Aldama a shoutout. She shared it and stuff just started blowing up. So I just taught her more and more stunts. I wasn’t planning on pushing her this hard at four years old, but it’s a win win: my daughter gets better skills and people get to see what they want.
04. You communicate with Jayden like an actual adult, versus a kid. Was that a conscious choice?
Yes. I know that she responds best when I talk to her in a calm voice, because energy is contagious. I have a tendency to talk to her like a grown woman and not a four year old. But at the same time, I don’t expect anyone else to talk to my child like a baby. People are like how do you get a four year old to do that? Well, quit dwelling on the fact that she’s four years old! She’s a capable organism.
People are like how do you get a four year old to do that? Well, quit dwelling on the fact that she’s four years old! She’s a capable organism.
05. When Jayden gets scared or unmotivated, how do you coach her through that?
She’s really strong mentally because I don’t let her dwell in weakness — you’re not going to get anywhere doing that. But if she ever shows fear, we’ll take a step back, try an easier stunt, and get her confidence back up. Or I’ll just keep reinforcing that if you do it right, we’re going to hit it. If you keep doing it wrong, you’re going to keep falling, but we’re still going to be safe because daddy’s here to catch you.
Also, I bribe her with Rice Krispie treats.
If I say I’m going to catch you, I’m going to have you fall ten times and I’m going to catch you ten times.
06. Do you apply that logic across all your athletes?
Yep. At least in the cheer world, if you can get someone to trust you, they can be taught anything. If I say I’m going to catch you, I’m going to have you fall ten times and I’m going to catch you ten times. You have to build rapport, and then learn their learning style. After that you have the recipe for success.
07. Do you worry about the virality getting to Jayden?
We embrace it. It’s my daughter, you know? I want to give her every opportunity to succeed, and I have to think we’ve created a great platform for her. As she grows older, I need her to understand that she’s inherited a large following, so you’ve got to be on your p’s and q’s. But she didn’t ask for that, so if she doesn’t want anyone following her later in life, we’ll just help her delete social media.
08. Has this shared love of movement changed your relationship?
Oh yeah, she’s my best friend. That bond isn’t something I put out there often because there are some moments I just like to enjoy personally. But she loves doing whatever I do. Whenever I’m in the studio, she’ll be singing on my lap or playing around on my guitar or keyboard. I’ll let her ride on the back of my bike or skateboard with me.
09. Was cheer something you hoped Jayden would inherit a passion for?
It was almost inevitable. I didn’t want for it, I didn’t not want for it, but I’m so deep in the cheer game, everyone knew I was going to teach her how to fly. I just never realized she was going to be that good at four years old. If she ends up not liking cheer, I literally do not care. But knowing I have all this knowledge, why not pass it down to my daughter?
Everyone knew I was going to teach her how to fly. I just never realized she was going to be that good at four years old.
10. So would you say she loves it now?
You know what, if she were to do one thing, it would be drawing. The passion [for cheer] is coming, but I don’t think she’s had enough experience aside from what we’ve done together. But I’m slowly catching Jayden doing handstands out of nowhere.