Greencastle-Antrim's Bingaman goes “Big 33” to cheer

BEN DESTEFAN, The Record Herald Contact Ben Destefan at 717-762-2151, bdestefan@therecordherald.com or on Twitter: @bdestefan_RH
Senior Zach Bingaman is on his way to cheer at the Big 33 football game.

Zach Bingaman built a reputation as one of Greencastle-Antrim’s most recognizable student-athletes during football and basketball games.

Only he never had the ball.

Instead, Bingaman stood out as a tumbler for G-A’s varsity cheerleading program, stealing the crowd’s attention for the better part of the last three years.

Having recently wrapped up his senior season as a Blue Devil, Bingaman’s high school career will receive a fitting sendoff in June, when he will cheer alongside Pennsylvania’s best at the 2016 Big 33 Football Classic.

Considered among the top senior showcases in the country, 33 elite football players and cheerleaders annually represent squads from Pennsylvania and Maryland. Following a tryout in February, Bingaman was selected to Team Pennsylvania earlier this week.

“Being selected as one of the top cheerleaders in the state is a huge honor,” said Bingaman, who is the only male in G-A program history. “I’ve seen other cheerleaders in Big 33 and thought it would be a fun experience, but nothing more than a dream. When I received the notification that I made the team, the reality hit that I was actually good enough to be in such an elite group.”

As expected, the tryout was demanding, asking participants to display all facets of the craft.

“At first, I was intimidated with all the cheerleaders trying out, but I worked hard and did what I had to do,” Bingaman said. “You walk in, get a number, learn a cheer and dance, and then you tryout. In three hours, I jumped, tumbled, stunted, cheered and danced as hard as I could to earn my spot.”

Bingaman’s path to the sideline at Hersheypark Stadium on June 18 started seven years ago, as the son of Ethel and Robert Bingaman found cheering to be a positive outlet during a difficult time.

“When my parents got divorced, I became extremely close with a friend that was a cheerleader,” Bingaman said. “I went to practice and games with her. The love just grew from being there, attempting to flip around, being throw in the air. It was part of God’s plan, so that’s what I did.”

It didn’t take long for Bingaman to get noticed, cheering for the G-A Middle School through ninth-grade before taking his talents to the high school level as a sophomore.

“Zach has been an absolute joy to coach,” said Andrea McCauley, who has coached Bingaman throughout his varsity career. “He is a talented cheerleader and great young man. I am so proud of his hard work and dedication. I know he will represent G-A very well on the sideline of Team PA.”

Although still fresh off basketball season, Bingaman joyfully reflected on his time as a Blue Devil.

“I’ll definitely remember all the girls I got to be with,” he said. “But also the Friday night lights experience and the crowd going insane every time I tumbled. That I will never forget.”

Planning to study Pre-Med at the University of Louisville, where he will also try out for the cheerleading team, Bingaman wanted to thank those who have impacted his journey.

“I want to thank God, Andrea McCauley, the Garland family, my family and everyone in G-A who never doubted me and kept me going in cheer.”