By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/9/15
It’s not every day that a head coach resigns from a state contender in order to coach a team that has never reached the postseason.
It’s also quite rare that a coach replaces his brother as head coach.
But these two scenarios have occurred at Pennridge where J.P. Banks was officially named head coach.
Banks resigned as head coach at Upper Dublin in August after posting a four-year record of 67-16 and leading the Cards to the last three Suburban One American Conference championships. He accepted the job as head coach at Pennridge (the position was accepted recently by the school board) to replace his brother, Kevin, who had resigned due to conflicts with his work schedule.
Why leave a job with a team you had built into a power and features two members – attackman Michael Sowers (Princeton commit) and defenseman Jack Rapine (Johns Hopkins commit) – of the USA U-19 training team?
Actually, the answer was simple. Banks wanted to coach a school where his four sons will play.
“I preach to my kids that family comes first, followed by school and lacrosse,” said Banks. “I have four boys and a daughter that all are going through the Pennridge School District and I always wanted to coach my kids.”
Banks said he had to jump at the opening at Pennridge now because someone else could have gone into the job and stayed there. Banks’ sons are aged 15 (Johnny, who is a freshman), 11, 7 and 6.
“It came up sooner than I thought, due to circumstances,” Banks said. “For me, family is the No. 1 thing in my thought process. The people at Upper Dublin were very supportive and I had a great time. I really enjoyed being the head coach there, but at the end of the day it came down to being with my family.
Banks said he was proud of how Upper Dublin succeeded, despite the fact the Cards did not reach the state playoffs. In 2015 Upper Dublin was knocked out in the second round of the District 1 tourney by a hot Conestoga team that finished as the District 1 runner-up.
“We had a great run over the past couple years,” Banks said. “If one or two times the ball bounces our way it’s all different and we’re talking about a different story (deeper run into districts). But they won’t miss a beat; they have great people with them and they will be fun to watch.”
Banks has experience coaching many of the Pennridge members in Deep Run youth lacrosse where he has coached for many years. He also has coached some of the players in the LB3-Phillie Elite program.
“Right now I am learning about the kids and building trust between all of us,” he said. “We are laying out expectations of what we want to do and where we want to go. We are working on commitment to the sport and fundamentals, and just getting better in what we have to do to raise the level of the program. I have a lot of familiarity with the kids and like everybody else we want to improve and be a team that is competitive in the conference and can try to get a playoff berth.”
Banks sdaid the Rams have bulked up their non-league schedules weith games against Holy Ghost Prep, Abington, Kennett and Lower Merion.
“I am excited for the new opportunity,” he said. “We have a really good bunch of kids and hopefully the stuff I learned with the guys at Upper Dublin will carry down here.”