New York Magazine

La’Darius Marshall

I NOTICE THE SMELL first. I’d been expecting the unnerving thwomps and grunts and the general intensity, but I find on stepping into Gibson Hall, where Navarro College Cheer is holding its practice, it’s the smell that almost knocks me off my feet.

It isn’t body odor—though stinky, sweaty people are everywhere—rather a stale, plasticky smell with a soupçon of disinfectant. As I zigzag among the rows of discarded Gatorade bottles, Sonic cups, and energy drinks, my nose is confronted with a specific sense of place. Oh, right, I think, taking another whiff. This is a school gym.

La’Darius Marshall shouldn’t be hard to find, but all the throwing and flipping and spinning makes the task a puzzle after half a bottle of wine. Marshall, 21, is a magnetic presence on the Netflix docuseries about the Navarro College cheer team in Corsicana, Texas. He has that perfect reality-TV mix of raw, unimpeachable talent and an appreciation for drama. On the show, he can come off as abrasive and arrogant, his signature attitude accompanied by a sharply raised, well-manicured eyebrow and GIF-worthy critiques of his teammates. But here at the edge of the gym, Marshall crosses his arms with the stoic and authoritative energy of a coach you pray you’ll never disappoint.

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