Mountain Ridge lacrosse building more than winning programMay 20, 2021 10:33AM ● By Josh Martinez
Mountain Ridge junior Colby Roberts (in red) helps Alta junior Ian Bushell (in white) off the field during a 13-7 win over Alta on March 25. (Photo courtesy of Mountain Ridge High School athletics.)
By Josh Martinez | [email protected]
When it comes to coaching lacrosse, Mountain Ridge High School’s Trent Bangert has more concerns than just on-field play.
In fact, when he took the head coaching job at Mountain Ridge, Bangert said he liked the prospect of building a culture from the ground up at a school that opened in 2019. This was appealing because he sees himself as a culture coach.
“Winning games is great, but I want to send these players off with life lessons and try to create leaders in every one of these young men,” he said.
Bangert is using four pillars in crafting that culture: teamwork, keeping things simple, prioritizing and executing, and distributed leadership.
While the culture is important, Bangert said the young men on his team mesh well with the culture.
“I’ve got a really good group of boys, and I’ve coached these boys for a few years at other programs, and they are really a brotherhood,” he said. “They respect the game, and they respect everything. We try to build trust amongst the teammates, the players, the coaches and try to make it more a family.”
That family environment fosters a lot. Senior Dallin Tanner said since everyone treats each other with respect, it makes the players want to pay it forward.
“We don’t want to have that reputation as a sports program to be the jerky team,” he said. “We just want to build up the school more than tear it down.”
Mountain Ridge recently traveled to Alta High School for what would turn out to be a highly competitive match. In an email relaying the story, MRHS assistant softball coach Callie Fielding, who attended, said the match was physical and the referees were letting a lot go.
At one point, Alta junior Ian Bushell injured his knee and tried to hobble off the field while the game was still in motion. Mountain Ridge junior Colby Roberts noticed Bushell’s struggle and immediately went to help.
In Fielding’s recount, she said it seemed Bushell fell into Roberts’s arms and looked “so thankful someone came to help him.”
The efforts don’t stop there. Bangert recalled a time when a recent snowstorm hit the area earlier this school year and his players were helping push cars out that were stuck.
With culture being so important to Bangert, seeing actions like these make him proud of his players.
“I’ve coached some teams and you do have the players that don’t buy in,” he said. “You can’t get everyone bought in. This team, out of all the teams I’ve coached, everybody’s on board.”
Part of what makes the young men on the team so receptive, offensive coordinator Taylor Brundage said, is the team is full of go-getters.
“We’re not really singling out anybody as a main leader,” he said. “They all take care of their stuff, and they motivate everyone else.”
As for why these student-athletes thrive and embrace what the coaching staff is trying to implement, Bangert said he’s still stumped.
He said he knows they’ve been together for a long time and have a lot of trust in each other. He hopes he’s had an impact on them to help them buy in, but all he knows for sure is it appears easy for them.
“Anything you ask for, they do,” Bangert said. “If they do make a mistake here or there, it’s corrected, they apologize, they hold each other accountable. It’s just a great environment right now.”
That environment has not only spawned a group of kids willing to serve at a moment’s notice but that is having success on the field. The Sentinels started the season off with a 7-1 overall record.
Tanner credits a lot of the early success to that brotherhood and culture the coaches helped establish. He also said there is a lot of trust among the players, which makes it easier to play in sync.
“It’s a team sport for a reason, right?” he said. “You need every position, and I think everyone is comfortable with each other in those positions, and everyone is comfortable with each other as a player.”
But Tanner said the credit doesn’t only sit with the players. He pointed to the coaching staff for helping foster such a good environment that allows this team to flourish.
Bangert isn’t only focused on this season. He’s got an eye for the future, recognizing this team has laid a foundation for where this young school goes in terms of culture and philosophy.
So far, Bangert says he likes the trajectory.
“With this team and how they’re completely bought in and the season we’re having and are going to continue to have, I think, is going to make the buy-in that much easier for the younger kids when they’re coming up,” he said.