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Edmonton Lacrosse Club

BANISTER HEADING NORTH

11/23/2012, 10:00am MST
By Edmonton Rush

Edmonton Lacrosse Club

Edmonton, AB---The Edmonton-Calgary sports rivalry is as cold and brutal as most any Alberta winter. In professional lacrosse, the rivalry is still quite young, but Rush fans will surely agree it is just as intense as the more-established hockey and football matchups. With any vigorous rivalry, bumps and bruises are often the result; thankfully, in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, the Rush selected Mitch Banister 46th overall - one of Calgary's own and a definite bruiser. Furthermore, he is the son of former Calgary Roughnecks owner Brad Banister. Something about Banister's presence in Edmonton seems, well, not right. (Just do not look him in the eye and say that.)

 

Edmonton Lacrosse Clu

Edmonton, AB---The Edmonton-Calgary sports rivalry is as cold and brutal as most any Alberta winter. In professional lacrosse, the rivalry is still quite young, but Rush fans will surely agree it is just as intense as the more-established hockey and football matchups. With any vigorous rivalry, bumps and bruises are often the result; thankfully, in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, the Rush selected Mitch Banister 46th overall - one of Calgary's own and a definite bruiser. Furthermore, he is the son of former Calgary Roughnecks owner Brad Banister. Something about Banister's presence in Edmonton seems, well, not right. (Just do not look him in the eye and say that.)

Standing at a modest 6-0 and weighing in at 175 pounds, Mitch Banister uses his strength, rather than his size, to intimidate opponents. Coach Derek Keenan comments, "He is the classic case of a guy you hate to play against but love to have on your team," which is probably the main motivation for swiping Banister, rather than letting our adversary to the south claim him. Speaking to Banister's abilities, Keenan adds, "He's tenacious and feisty and also a good athlete capable of playing an up-tempo style of defense."

Spending all five years of his junior career with the Calgary Raiders in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (Jr. A), in 78 games from 2007 to 2011, Banister racked up 188 penalty minutes, placing him third all-time in that category for the league, while maintaining a 0.63 point-per-game average-certainly not a bad achievement for a player of his type.

"A lot of those minutes were for doing something I took pride in - sticking up for my teammates - which can sometimes put you in some situations that many shy away from, but I took it upon myself to always put the team first," Banister explains.

Despite winning back-to-back Alberta Jr. A championships with the Raiders, Banister is a veteran of two unsuccessful Minto Cup finals in 2010 and 2011. Since then, he has learned to roll with the punches, when it comes to adversity.

"The hardest part was coming so close to reaching something that I dedicated countless hours of my whole summer toward, as well as ending my junior career with a loss. What I was able to take away from it was the knowledge of how to play in big-game situations, as well as what I needed to achieve to take my game to the next level."

In 2012, Banister moved on to the Maple Ridge Burrards (Sr. A), where he played with former RMLL foe and Edmonton native Simon Giourmetakis, who is also a Rush draft pick.

"It was awesome playing alongside Simon, as he is a great player that I had played against almost my whole junior career. Coming from Alberta made it easier to connect with him, as we were both leaving friends and family back home in order to play in the WLA."

Banister's experience in Maple Ridge has taught him a few things: 
"In junior, there aren't as many players that can hurt you on a power play, if you take an ill-advised penalty. At the senior level, the players have a much higher knowledge of the game, which ultimately makes it more challenging."

Banister entered the NCAA in 2011 with La Roche College (in Pittsburgh), but he has since moved on to play with the University of Tampa, where he is currently majoring in Business.

Tampa offered me more of a challenge lacrosse-wise, which made the move easier, as it's always tough leaving somewhere that you have become accustomed to."

And becoming accustomed, especially to elite lacrosse, is something Banister thinks is the future for Albertans: 
"I definitely think having Alberta-born players playing in the province is a huge step in promoting the game. It gives younger players the opportunity to realize what they are capable of, and what they can accomplish in order to make it to the professional level, even if they are not from one of the lacrosse hotbeds. Playing locally allows us to reach out to the community in ways that out-of-province players are not able to do as easily."

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