Marriotts Ridge senior Ethan Bannar is a big burst of positive energy. It's reflected on the soccer field, where he has emerged as a starting forward for the defending Class 2A state champion Mustangs, bringing a combination of skill and a tireless work ethic. He uses that energy in the classroom, where he maintains a 3.38 grade-point average, and there's plenty left to play the tuba in the school's marching band. For Bannar, who would like to attend James Madison and study business, a typical day during his senior year starts early and ends late. He wouldn't have it any other way. Along with his schoolwork and soccer, Bannar also runs track in the spring, performs at the annual Merry Tuba Christmas each December in the Inner Harbor, and stays active with his youth group at church, always willing to lend a hand to help others.
Question: What did it feel like to win the state title last year?
Answer: It was pretty remarkable. As a junior getting to play quite a bit of minutes, it was pretty exciting. It was probably one of the greatest experiences you can go through as a high school junior — it was awesome all the way around.
Q: In winning the title, what kind of bond was formed among your teammates?
A: When that last whistle blows, you're just looking at your teammates, your coach and saying 'Wow, this is what it all was for.' This was our work the past two, three months and it's pretty remarkable. Looking back on it now, starting a new season, it's like 'Hey, we're going to get back into it. We're going to try to do it again.' It made for some great bonds with some new friends and old friends.
Q: What was that state title day like for you?
A: All I was focused on was that game and if I got in that game how I was going to pressure and work hard and try to get a goal, set up a goal, pass, play as a team — just do whatever I can to help the team win. We got a nice fancy bus to go down there, so that was wonderful. So we were in our mood and all you can think about was how much we wanted that win. We wanted to walk away saying Marriotts Ridge is at the top. That's what we strived for and that's what was on my mind all day.
Q: After the win, how was the bus ride home?
A: It was great. We started chanting everybody's names, like 'Coach Flynn! Coach Flynn!' Then it quieted down a little bit, everyone had their iPods in and were kind of taking it all in. It kind of hit everybody on the bus and we were just sitting back like: 'Wow.' But then we went to dinner afterward as a team and we had some good times. It was a great experience.
Q: How has your role changed as a starting forward now?
A: I had some significant minutes as a junior, so the game and the pace and all of that is under my feet and I know me and other teammates can handle that. We're also trying to set an example for the rest of the team and everybody else who hasn't been there to know that this is how we need to play and this is the pace that needs to be and this is the pressure you're going to get.
Q: What's this season like for the team knowing you're now defending state champions?
A: We got the big bull's-eye on our back. We know that we can get there — we just need to find our way to how we can play as a team to get there again. We have to focus pretty much one game at a time and we've got to take it as we know it and we've got to get through.
Q: What is it about the tuba?
A: The tuba in the band is kind of like the base, the building block. It all starts with the tuba. You play your note and you know it's in tune and then you hear your other peers playing their notes and it all comes together. When all that music comes together with all that hard work, it's like, 'Wow, this is great.'
Q: What's the Merry Tuba Christmas event all about?
A: You just play Christmas carols for two hours straight — it's the coolest thing you'll ever hear. You can hear it 10 blocks away, 20 blocks away. Last year, we were just playing away and it started snowing. So everyone was out there in their gloves and scarves, they have hot chocolate and cookies for everyone. It's just cool. There was a ton of people out there last year.
Q: How rewarding and important is it to you to help others?
A: It's important to everyone. It pays off, expecially looking at it from a perspective through church and with God. That's really what he set out to do, to help the people that really need help. Going out and helping individuals is just rewarding in your heart — knowing that you helped someone out and did something good. That's going to stick with you longer than winning a soccer game. So that's awesome — you can't ask for anything better than that.
Q: What's the best advice you've ever received?
A: It goes with everything — you work hard at anything you do, you do your best and you get the best possible result. And if you don't do your best, you see less than the best. That was coach [Kevin Flynn's] motto at the beginning of the soccer season last year. He told everyone that our goal was the state championship and we're going to work our best to get there and that's what we did. So from the start, we worked our hardest, our strongest as a team to be the best that we could and we did it.