One student-athlete’s brother has been an asset to the football team over the last three years allowing Eric Pitkanen, now head athletic trainer, to fully serve the team.
Ethan Bangs is senior Sean Bangs’ younger brother. The 17-year-old has been at every single football game since fall of 2011, rain or shine. He works on the sidelines right along side Pitkanen and student trainers.
“I like it because I get to hang out with him,” said Bangs who’s a defensive lineman for the Boxers. “The guys have told me they feel like they’ve watched him grow up.”
It all started in the summer of 2011. The younger Bangs would come to watch his brother at camp to be a part of the team atmosphere, and in order to be on the field offered to help with water duties. Back then Pitkanen explained there wasn’t any work-study help so Bangs’ offer was appreciated.
“He was doing most of the water at practice by himself with injured guys helping,” said Pitkanen. “He would go to football practice at his high school and then come watch practice and help me.”
Bangs’ parents won an auction for tickets to ride on the bus and be on the sidelines for one game that same year. Their family was there early and Pitkanen asked if he would help out. Next thing Bangs knew, he was helping with more than water at every game.
“Ethan is really important during long distance games because they can’t bring normal staff,” explained Bangs.
Ethan understands the importance of his volunteering with the Boxers as well.
“I feel like I make a difference all the time, on a regular basis,” said Bangs.
“I’ve gained knowledge by being around Eric and Phil. Now I know if someone’s ankle or shoulder is hurt and can wrap it decently well.”
He has been in charge of getting ice and water, gathering tape or wraps and all other sorts of responsibilities student trainers do.
“The first time I knew I struck gold with Ethan was in 2011 at the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps game down in California,” said Pitkanen. “I had only traveled with my co-worker who is an Athletic Trainer. We were going to have to do all the water as well as try and watch the game and manage injuries, which is not a fun or easy task. Ethan was able to handle the entire sideline. I didn’t have to leave the sideline for anything other than an injury and we had a lot that game, which freed me up to do my job more effectively. The kid didn’t stop moving the entire game.”
Bangs has been to every game, home or away, since he lives conveniently in Beaverton.
“I was amazed at what he could accomplish with no experience and not owing me anything,” said Pitkanen. “He did the job by himself that I usually have three people do at home games. He has since continued to impress me by being at every game vwe’ve had and working just for the fun of being on the sideline and watching his brother play football.”
Bangs said he’s also picked up on a lot of the assistant coaching senior Justin Roney is doing for the Boxers and applying it to what he does at his high school.
At Sunset High School in Beaverton he helps run football practices by running the clock and helping with film.
“His work ethic is better than some of the people I pay to work for me. He never complains, never misses a game, and never misses an opportunity to help out. He is always there and does it with a smile on his face,” said Pitkanen. “I am going to miss him when he goes on to college not only because of his help, but because he’s such a likeable kid and genuinely seems to care about things.”
For the future, Bangs is thinking of enlisting to the Army and then work on a marketing or management degree, though he did say that physical therapy would be a very interesting field.
“I understand how important the background job is,” said Bangs.
“If there is anything I could ever do for him moving forward in life as a student, athlete, or both, I would do it no questions asked,” said Pitkanen. “He really falls under the ‘trial by fire’ expression because he just walked up one day and learned the most effective, efficient way to provide a service to more than 145 collegiate football players with no experience or practice. If he can adapt this well as a young teenager, I can only imagine how well he will do in college and throughout life.”