How Bingham’s new volleyball coach Reed Carlson got the Miners to outright region titleJan 05, 2024 12:57PM ● By Brian Shaw
Reed Carlson led the Bingham volleyball team to the semifinals in his first year at Bingham. (Photo courtesy Reed Carlson)
Reed Carlson was a wildly successful volleyball coach at Lone Peak, winning five state titles from 2016 to 2021.
But, somewhere between 2021 and this past summer, Carlson made the decision to become the next head coach at Bingham High School.
It’s crazy to think the Bingham Miners volleyball program hadn’t won a region title in eight long years. But during the recently completed 2023-24 season, they did just that, and then some.
So it was no small feat then, that the Miners dispatched Copper Hills, their longtime rivals, with relative ease Oct. 24, 2023 at The Pit: a 25-19, 25-14 and 25-19 victory.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Carlson said. “They have shown up every day ready to work and learn.”
Bingham’s season looks even more impressive when you realize this Miners team spent the first month of the preseason playing all their games away from home in August while The Pit, their home gymnasium, was still under construction.
And yet Bingham [25-3, 9-1 Region 3] lifted its first title in the realigned Region 2 outright, winning a trophy that in years past usually went right to Copper Hills. [The Miners did lose once in region play to Corner Canyon.]
Others to get past Bingham during the regular season were 6A champion Lone Peak and 6A Pleasant Grove—but they were the only ones to do so.
“We have a saying in our gym that we are going to be better today than we were yesterday, and it has gotten us to this point,” said Carlson of his team that MaxPreps ranked the No. 2 team in Utah behind Lone Peak for most of the season.
Construction on Bingham’s main gymnasium was so intrusive in July that it forced Carlson and his new team away from the school for tryouts.
So Carlson made the best of a bad situation. His Miners hopefuls competed for a chance to make Bingham’s team at a gym in North Salt Lake where Carlson coaches club volleyball for Club V.
It was a gymnasium that budding Miners like Levani Key-Powell and Solia Angilau were familiar with—they play their club ball there, too.
That was only the first major hurdle the Miners and Carlson had to clear; soon after the tryouts were completed, Bingham administrators told the new head coach that the gym wouldn’t be ready in time for the start of the 2023 season.
Carlson had to inform his new team that they would be spending the first month of the season on the road.
So bound and determined were the Miners to make this look routine that they took a field trip to the state capitol building, among other things, since they were betrothed to the big yellow school bus.
During the month of August, the Miners merely lost one match while they embarked on this quest to opposing gyms. In Bingham’s three wins of the four matches it played during that month, it didn’t give up one set.
And when September hit, the gym was nearly ready. Bingham was undeterred, hitting the road for a tournament at UVU. From Sept. 7-9, the Miners won four matches in a row without surrendering a single set—then they blasted rival Mountain Ridge and pummeled Pleasant Grove in the tourney’s title game, both by the scores of 3-1.
Finally back at home in a refurbished Pit after two-plus months spent on a big yellow school bus eating fast food at truck stops, the Miners welcomed Mountain Ridge on Sept. 12 and defeated their rivals by the same 3-1 score.
For the rest of September, Bingham would not lose a single set—let alone a match.
For the first time in a long time, Bingham was getting noticed thanks to a can-do attitude instilled by their new coach.
This was a team that at the same time last year already lost as many games as Carlson’s bunch had won.
After an emphatic win on Oct. 3 over rival Copper Hills, the one-loss Miners had just avenged the loss that ended their season.
When asked, the new coach had a five-word response: “We have a positive outlook,” he replied.
There was no mention of revenge, of hatred, of negativity.
It simply wasn’t a word that was in the vernacular of the new Miners, who during the month of October marched on to the 5A/6A Challenge, played five matches in three days and won four of them.
But Lone Peak, the team Carlson coached for five years, was on Bingham’s schedule of teams to be played at that tournament.
The Miners suffered their second loss of the season on Oct. 7. It was a slugfest that literally went to a fifth set to find a winner. The next day saw Bingham lose its third match—this time to Pleasant Grove.
After that, the Miners wouldn’t lose another game until the state tournament rolled around. They thumped Davis and Weber in the second round and quarterfinals, 3-0. The 6A semifinals would pit Bingham up against Lone Peak, as luck would have it.
So as the Miners prepared for a serious shot at their first state title in four decades, the people of South Jordan were hoping to put that 40-year genie of jinxes back in its bottle for good. Carlson said he thought his Miners team appeared ready.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of state next week,” added Bingham’s first-year coach at the time.
And that’s where the Miners would end their season, losing in straight sets to Coach Carlson’s former team.
But the new coach already has the South Jordan community thinking about those volleyball heights they reached back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Esther Halliday led Bingham to three consecutive state crowns [1989-1991].
As luck would have it, the Miners’ last state volleyball title came during that 1991-92 school year.
It’s kind of hard to believe that the last time Bingham lifted a state crown was the same time that Windows 3.1 was released. It was also the year that the movie “Aladdin” came out.
And there is the hope that Bingham will break that curse in 2024. λ