The Monroe three-sport athlete has switched positions a couple of times over his storied athletic career. On the gridiron, he went from quarterback to wide receiver his senior year. On the baseball diamond, he bounced around from the infield to the outfield.
Wherever he ended up playing, one thing remained the same: Bingham did whatever he could to help the Bearcats succeed.
“That's the way it is for him,” said Eric Chartrand, the Monroe head baseball coach. “He was willing to do whatever he could for the team to be better. He was definitely willing and has the capabilities to do that.”
Bingham's strong athletic career, coupled with his dedication to his classwork, community and family off the field, earned Bingham the Class of 2014 Boy Athlete of the Year award.
Bingham played football, basketball and baseball for Monroe and was a key component on all three teams. Most recently he was an All-Wesco first-team selection as an outfielder for the baseball team. He also helped the Monroe football team win a league title his junior year and make the playoffs for the first time in 19 years.
The Bearcats' No. 3 hitter, Bingham is the all-time doubles leader at Monroe, according to Chartrand. He played primarily left field this season, after playing some infield in the past. His athleticism and dedication made him a huge success in the outfield.
“He's an excellent young man,” Chartrand said. “As talented as he is on the different fields that he plays in — football, basketball and baseball — he's an even better young man.”
All the while Bingham maintained a 3.98 grade-point average while taking Advanced Placement and honors classes.
Herald Writer David Krueger chatted with Bingham about his athletic career as a Bearcat — and what exactly a Bearcat is:
Q: What was the top moment of your high school career?
A: There are probably two. I think it was last year beating Arlington in overtime (19-14 in football on Oct. 18). We forced a fumble and won and everybody stormed the field. That was pretty cool. The other time was senior night this year for basketball. We were down by two points against Lake Stevens with nine seconds left and I hit a 3-pointer to go up by one and we won.
Q: Was it weird being your last year and the last time you went to all these opposing fields?
A: It was definitely weird. I kind of came to the realization that this was the last time. During football I would think, ‘There's always basketball' and after basketball it was always, ‘There's still baseball.' Now, after playing three sports for four years, it's weird thinking this is the last time I would be wearing a Monroe jersey and representing my school. It was surreal to think it was all coming to an end.
Q: What were your thoughts on switching from quarterback to wide receiver?
A: I kind of knew because we needed a receiver and I was athletic enough. We had a good quarterback behind me and I wanted to play receiver. It wasn't a hard switch. Being a quarterback, you know the routes and being a receiver it's good to know where to go. … I was OK with going to receiver. It was hard because I played quarterback my whole life. I enjoyed it though, just running around. At receiver you get to show you're athletic ability and speed more, whereas a quarterback you're just in the pocket.
Q: What's your favorite sport of the three to play?
A: Definitely baseball. I just love the game, I love the camaraderie with the players. I play it year-round and it's kind of been my favorite. Right behind that is football. And I enjoy basketball. I like playing basketball a lot. But baseball is my favorite. It's also the sport I'm best at.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: Right now, I'm signed to Bellevue (College) for baseball but I don't know. I might try to walk on at Gonzaga for baseball. I'm on a really good summer team so there's always an opportunity for other colleges to see you there. There are a lot of last-minute pickups in the summer. So either that or Bellevue or Gonzaga.
Q: Do you know what a Bearcat is?
A: It's like a badger, kind of thing. It looks — uh — I don't know how to explain how it looks. We're actually named the Bearcats after a boxer. (the school's mascot was named after boxer Dode “Bearcat” Berdot in 1924)
Q: What will you miss most about Monroe High School?
A: Definitely playing in front of the fans and your fellow students. There's always something special about being in front of everybody and representing your hometown against your rival. Especially football and basketball — the atmosphere there is pretty crazy.
Q: It won't be the state penitentiary that's so close to the school?
A: Actually, (that is) a close second. During the National Anthem we'd see the American flag and behind that the state penitentiary. That was always kind of funny to us. It would be the stars and stripes for freedom and behind that the state prison — kind of the opposite of freedom.
Hunter Bingham joins Snohomish's Tanner Perry (2013) and Arlington's Blake McPherson (2012) as The Herald's Boy Athlete of the Year.
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