Banking on leadership
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Despite having only played a year of high school football, Jeff Banks built his reputation on the field as a punter and kicker for Washington State back in the late 1990s. Fifteen years later he’s still making an impact, this time from the sidelines as coach at UTEP.
“He is probably one of the best special teams coordinators and kicking coaches I’ve known,” sophomore punter, Steven Valdez said. “Last year, I was not doing as well and he gave me corrections and pushed me to keep practicing and keep getting better and now I am a starter. He has players trust his word because he teaches us to just be ourselves and do what we can do.”
In his ninth season at UTEP, Banks is currently the running backs and punters/special teams coordinator.
Just this past season alone, Banks led the Miners to earn the top special teams unit in Conference USA of 2011, as they ranked first in the league and fourth in the nation in punting average (40.5), second in kickoff returns (26.3) and third in kickoff coverage (44.4). Senior punter Ian Campbell finished 2011 as a Ray Guy award semi-finalist, the award given to the top punter in the nation.
Banks said he’s constantly pushing his players for a higher level of performance and revolves his coaching techniques around a strong foundation of hard work and respect between the players and himself.
“I would say that I am a disciplinarian when it comes to coaching,” Banks said. “I coach to get the most production out of our guys, keeping them disciplined on and off the field. But at the same time I want them to be themselves and try to let the players play within their abilities. So I am a disciplinarian in assignments but when they get on the field I let them play.”
Aside from working to produce a game-winning team, Banks also uses his time as a coach to instill personal attributes that will benefit his players beyond their time on the field.
“There is no substitute for hard work, whether it’s on the field or anything they are doing or going to do in life,” Banks said. “I want my players to know that they are going to have to work extremely hard for anything they want because what makes you great is your work ethic.”
Playing in his second season for UTEP, sophomore running back, Nathan Jeffery said Banks has played a vital part for the growth and success of the program.
“He is just one of those guys who brings energy and excitement to the field,” Jeffery said. “He knows a lot about the game and does a great job of passing it on to us players. He tells us what we are coming into and to always be ready to compete. He can be a little weird at times because he is so energetic but it pumps us up as a team and it creates a positive attitude on the field.”
While Banks has impacted the Miners, he said that for him the most rewarding part is not the praise he gets for being a coach, but rather the active role he gets to partake in helping his players reach their full potential.
“I love the impact that we as coaches can have on 18 to 22 year old young men, and in helping them to reach their goals,” Banks said. “It is rewarding to watch them be successful and continue to be successful and plus being around all these young guys keeps me young, so my job is more fun than work.”
Audrey Westcott can be reached at email@example.com.