Banister: Under sheriff’s watch | NevadaAppeal.com

Banister: Under sheriff’s watch

ERICK STUDENICKA

It’s no surprise that the Carson City Sheriff is paying close attention to Carson High soccer player Ali Banister this fall.

Already during the course of the season, she’s stolen the soccer ball numerous times from the Senators’ opposition, beaten several defenders, and – worst of all – taken shots at nearly all of the goalkeepers in Northern Nevada.

Sheriff Rod Banister isn’t concerned about any illegal activity ongoing on the soccer field, however. Ali, 15, is the sheriff’s high scoring daughter who has helped Carson to a 10-2-1 record and a likely playoff berth this season.

And although he’ll miss today’s Senator game at Hug High (3:30 p.m.) because of a hunting trip, Sheriff Banister is a familiar face at most of Carson’s games.

“He’s a big fan of soccer who loves to watch us play,” said Ali, the Senators second-leading scorer behind Kali Richey. “He’s always out to cheer me on.”

Banister, a 25-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, grew up a baseball fan but has become a knowledgeable soccer fan ever since his only daughter Ali was drawn toward the sport at the age of four.

“From the beginning, soccer was the sport Ali wanted to play the most,” said Rod, who along with wife Sheila encouraged Ali try out a variety of sports during her childhood. “I had no clue what soccer was at the time.”

After playing several seasons of AYSO, spring and competitive league soccer, Ali was the lone freshman to make the Carson varsity last year. That team went on to win the zone title.

Now in her sophomore season, Ali has become one of the Senators’ biggest offensive threats, having already tallied five goals and seven assists from her halfback position. Her totals would be even more had she not missed three games early in the season with a sprained ankle.

“Ali’s got the qualities of a star soccer player,” said Carson coach Mike Popp. “She’s a good player in all aspects of the game: she’s aggressive, self-motivated and confident in her playing.”

With seven sophomores on this year’s squad, Ali’s class at school doesn’t differentiate her from her teammates this season. Still, she’s the only player on the team with a high-profile public official as her father, a fact her teammates don’t make a big deal about.

“The players on the team are also my friends, so they’re used to it,” Ali said. “Sometimes someone will joke “You’d better not do anything, or we’ll call your dad.'”

The Sheriff, who already has the zone tournament marked in his calendar, said he’s proud of his daughter’s athletic accomplishments.

“It makes you happy when your daughter’s the only one to make the varsity and is a starter after the second week,” Banister said.

In addition to keeping her in good shape and allowing her to meet new friends, the elder Banister – always thinking in terms of law enforcement – said soccer has served Ali well in another aspect.

“Playing soccer has done a great job of keeping her out of trouble,” said Sheriff Banister, who noted that Ali hasn’t even picked up her first traffic ticket yet.

Carson soccer notes – The Senators are favored in today’s contest against the Hawks. Hug is 1-9-3 this seasonin predicting the success of this year’s team vs. last year’s zone championship team, Ali Banister said, “It’s hard to compare. Last year, we were ranked 16th in the nation; this year, we’ve got new players and a new coach. It’s more a team effort rather than individual effort this season.”Carson plays at Douglas next Tuesday (3:30 p.m.) in a game which could decide the Division II champion. Douglas currently has a six point lead in the division.