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Male Cheerleaders Make the Jump

Jeff Newbold, Staff Writer

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It’s been about eight years since Bingham High School has had any male cheerleaders.  To the surprise and enthusiasm of many Bingham fans, that streak has ended.  This year, four boys joined the cheer team: Curtis Finneman, Zach Wilkin, Michael Guerrero, and Jake Earl.  This has enabled the team to perform more interesting stunts and different routines, and has also permitted them to compete in co-ed competitions, which will be quite a change for a school that has long dominated the all-girl cheer competitions.

Curtis Finneman, junior, was looking for a good experience and possible scholarship opportunities, and hoped that cheerleading would provide him with both.  Though he had done gymnastics before, he wasn’t sure what to expect when he tried out for the team in April.  However, everyone did their best to make him feel comfortable, and he was able to make the team.

“At first, it was a little intimidating because I’d only done solo gymnastics,” Curtis said, “but I’m a fast learner.”

Junior Zach Wilkin wanted to try out as a sophomore, but, as a football player and wrestler, wasn’t sure how to make the switch.  He noticed that Curtis made the team and heard that cheer coach Amber McGrath wanted more boys for the team.  After giving her a call, he was soon a part of the group as well.

As the recruiting continued, Michael Guerrero, junior, was soon encouraged by cheerleaders to join.  He had been cheering competitively for eight years at All Star Cheer and decided that it would be fun to become part of the Bingham team.  He joined the team near the end of summer, and was quickly incorporated into the system.

Senior Jake Earl was a wrestler from West Jordan when he met Bingham cheerleaders at a United Spirit Association camp during the summer.  They worked out with him and suggested that he think about joining the team.  He knew that the programs at Bingham had a good reputation, and thought it over.

“I joined for hot girls all the time,” said Jake, smiling. “But, really, I knew it would be fun and unique. I like to do different things.”

The boys have been well received by the girls on the team.

“It’s been really fun,” said senior cheer captain Chelsea Ward. “It’s a whole new experience.” She added that though she thought it would be very different, she soon found that the boys quickly meshed well with the group.

“We’re still running the program like normal,” said coach McGrath. “We just have a little ‘man’ in the middle.”

The boys’ strength has made some routines easier, while at the same time forcing the team to increase the difficulty of their competition routines. In co-ed competitions, the other teams also benefit from having male cheerleaders, so each team must make their routines more difficult and therefore more impressive.  However, the squad remains confident that they will be ready by the time competitions begin in December and will be able to competently hold their own among other co-ed teams.

The different nature of co-ed competitions has placed pressure on the team, and they have worked harder accordingly.  However, the pressure is somewhat reduced due to the laid-back nature of the boys.  Though Chelsea described them as being “late to practice often,” she pointed out that they brought a more relaxed feel to the field.  Even off the field, the team hangs out together like any other group of friends.

The transition to cheer has been a definite change for the boys, but they have taken it in stride.  Though they came from different sports and schools, they’ve enjoyed their time as cheerleaders.

“I miss football, but I love cheer,” said Zach.  He and Jake both continue to wrestle, and are balancing both sports along with their schoolwork.  All of the boys were described by various teammates as hardworking, and they encourage the girls to work hard as well.

These four boys seem to have opened doors for possible future male cheerleaders at Bingham.

“I think guys respect it more,” said junior cheerleader Chyanne Higgins. “I know guys who have been talking about joining, and they’ve been serious.”

Though cheerleading has generally been considered to be a female sport, the team expressed hopes that boys will continue to try out.

“Hopefully more guys will want to join next year because they can see how much fun it is,” said Curtis. “Don’t be scared.”

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Male Cheerleaders Make the Jump