Grit and determination run in Zach Bannon’s family.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Bannon, a junior midfielder for the Eastlake High lacrosse team, isn’t the most imposing figure on the field. But he might be the toughest — mentally and physically.
Bannon’s father, Larry, was a 5-foot-6, 145-pound high school cornerback in Indiana before becoming a Navy SEAL.
“He’s always been my idol,” Bannon said of his father, who recently retired after 20 years in the service.
Bannon said his mother, Lisa, also deserves credit for his upbringing.
“My mom was always there for me when my dad was away on deployments,” he said. “During those times, she played the role of dad, as well.”
Bannon, who didn’t pick up a lacrosse stick until eighth grade, was named Mesa League Player of the Year last spring after helping the Titans win the league title.
His performance was no surprise to Eastlake coach Nestor Rosas.
“He’s our workhorse,” Rosas said. “It’s just incredible how much talent he has when you combine his stick skills and speed.”
As a midfielder, Bannon roams the entire field while attackers and defenders are confined to their respective zones. Conditioning is a critical part of his game.
“Zach is the leader of our offense,” Rosas said. “He’ll bring the ball up on a clear and take it into the attack. His endurance allows him to do this.”
Bannon, who played safety on the Titans’ San Diego Section Division I champion football team and is a member of Eastlake’s roller hockey team in winter, craves the physical nature of lacrosse.
“I look for contact,” Bannon said.
Something else he looks for is respect on the field from teammates and opponents. When a rival school visited last season, the players decided to conduct a pregame prayer before commencing their warm-up. This didn’t sit well with Bannon — not because of what they did, but where they did it.
“They prayed at midfield on our logo,” said Bannon, who prays before every game. “Then they warmed up on our end of the field.”
It was a definite no-no in the mind of this son of a SEAL.
“I was so mad because this is our home,” Bannon said of the opponents’ behavior. “I just told our guys, ‘Not on this field.’ ”
Bannon and the Titans went on to win the game in overtime.
Rosas is looking for even more leadership from Bannon now that he is a team captain for Eastlake, which hopes to improve after last season’s first-round exit from the playoffs.
|3/05||MONTE VISTA-SPG VALLEY|
|3/11||at Granite Hills|
|3/19||at San Marcos|
|4/05||at Bonita Vista|
|4/15||at Mar Vista|
|5/03||at Otay Ranch|
|5/14||at Monte Vista-Spg Valley|
|5/17||at Chula Vista|
|Coach: Nestor Rosas|
“He’s already a leader by example,” Rosas said. “Now, we’re trying to get him to be a bit more vocal and be more outspoken.”
Junior midfielder and best friend Christian Ballow introduced Bannon to lacrosse.
“He proves you don’t have to be the biggest player to be successful,” Ballow said. “He just loves the game.”
Humility is another attribute that endears Bannon to his teammates.
“Some athletes will talk a big game off the field about themselves,” Ballow said. “But he never talks about himself — he’ll put others before him.”