Playing against brothers paid off

University of Minnesota Athletics

From playing hoops in the kitchen with her brothers, Rachal Banham now is a junior point guard for the University of Minnesota.

Hey everyone! My name is Rachel Banham and I am a junior point guard at the University of Minnesota. I am from Lakeville, Minn., a city that is only 30 minutes from the U of M campus, and I love to sing, dance, hang with friends and just be goofy.

My mom and dad, Mel and Don Banham, are both police officers for the Minneapolis Police Department. My dad recently retired after more than 30 years of service. He is very well-known for all of the great work he has put in and the differences he has made in the city. My mom has been with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 20 years and is a sergeant in the sex crimes unit.

My mom and dad also work security for the Minnesota Vikings. My dad stays by the head coach as well as the more well-known players, while my mom watches over the visiting team’s sideline.

My parents are extremely hard working and are my biggest roles models, and I hope one day I can be just like them. I am currently majoring in sociology of criminal deviance and hope to get into investigative work with sex crimes, just like my mom.

I have two brothers and one sister. My oldest brother, Cole, is 21 and a running back on the Gopher football team. My younger brother, Blake, is 17 and a senior at Cretin Derham Hall High School, where he is a running back on the football team. The youngest of the four of us is my sister, Paige. She is 14, a freshman in high school and competes on the gymnastics team at Lakeville North. My entire family is very athletic, and we all grew up playing many sports.

I started playing basketball when I was in kindergarten and grew to be obsessed with it. Up until high school, I always played three or four sports, but basketball was my true passion. My brothers and I played in the driveway together growing up, and if the weather was bad, my parents would bring us to the gym.

Sometimes, we would play in the kitchen. Even though we always got in trouble for putting holes in the walls or breaking stuff, we kept playing. The best part is, we still do it when we are all at home together. Though my parents were not happy at the time, and still get mad, I think they realize it really did help me become a better player.

I always had a ball in my hand and wanted to be at the gym. Also, the competitiveness my brothers and I had was unreal. We fought constantly, challenged each other to anything and never went out quietly. At the time, it was too much and somebody was always getting upset, but now I realize how much it has paid off. Growing up with brothers gives someone a certain kind of toughness.

I started playing varsity basketball in eighth grade, and that's when it started getting really serious for me. That's when I started thinking about a future in the sport. I had a great five years of high school basketball. We brought home the state title and posted a 32-0 record my junior year and placed third in the state tournament my senior year.

Before my junior year, I decided I wanted to attend the University of Minnesota to be near my family and play for a school I loved and admired growing up. Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville really gave Minnesota a name and made this place somewhere you dreamed of playing. They are two players I look up to and they’re continuing to thrive in the WNBA.

I will keep you updated all season long on all things Gopher women’s basketball and look forward to giving you a closer look at my junior year.