Coached By: Joe Cuozzo
John Banks was gifted enough athletically to make the switch from attack to goalie as a sophomore in high school. He had a year to learn from Richie Betcher, who manned the pipes during the 1988 NYS championship season, and took over in 1989 and led Ward Melville to another state title.
For someone to lead his team to a 24-0 record, win the Enners Award and be named All-America in his first full varsity season at a critical position is simply amazing. If the player who Banks replaced in net during summer league had shown up, the history books may have been written differently.
Banks recalls winning the '89 Long Island title against Farmingdale, which he and his teammates refer to as the "miracle on turf." Melville won dramatically in overtime.
"We went on to the state championship, but we were just focused on wanting to be the best on Long Island," he says. "Growing up on Long Island, all you heard about were other Long Island teams."
Ward Melville's Joe Matassa won the Enners in 1988 and Bill Martens, who coached Ray Enners when he played at Hills West, was an assistant for the Patriots, so Banks was familiar with the award. He and his father were more anxious to see if he would be an All-American selection. So, ironically, on his dad's birthday, Banks called him from school to tell him the good news.
"I never did that," he says about calling while he was still at school. "I told him happy birthday and 'I know you'd hope I'd be an All-American, but I got the Enners award, too'."
Banks played college lacrosse at Dartmouth and Johns Hopkins. He left Dartmouth after two seasons because of philosophical differences with the coach and finished his career with the Blue Jays, where he said it was "a lot of fun being part of a team that played in a pressure cooker with 10 or 15,000 people at every game."
He played in two final fours.
Today, Banks is very much involved with lacrosse from the coaching aspect. He lives north of Philadelphia in Bucks County, and is the assistant varsity coach at Central Bucks West High School. He coaches with Deep Run Valley Youth Lacrosse and has five children (the oldest is 9) that keep him busy.