Facebook Twitter

Hoops star sets bar high

East athlete has rare drive to succeed

SHARE Hoops star sets bar high

It's not that uncommon to see multisport athletes in high school these days, so how about playing on two different soccer teams and the school basketball team all in the same season?

That's what East High School junior Lauren Porter is doing this winter in addition to maintaining honors classes and a 3.9 GPA.

As a starter on the basketball team, Porter is the team's second-leading scorer. However, the 5-foot-9 hoop star didn't limit her season to just one sport. She's also playing on an elite Olympic development soccer squad and a nationally ranked club team. The talented midfielder has a reason for setting the bar to a new level.

"It's a lot of fun. I think some of them (other students) think I'm a little crazy," she laughed.

Playing a variety of sports is nothing new to the natural athlete. Porter is an avid snowboarder, tennis player and swimmer. However, this winter she's concentrated her efforts toward improving her soccer skills and perhaps continuing her college career in the sport she loves.

"I obviously like to be busy, but I like to push myself as far as I can go," the honor student says. The dedicated Porter usually spends five days a week on the hardwood practicing with the basketball team. She follows that up with soccer drills three days out of the week.

After playing in national soccer tournaments in Florida and Las Vegas, the East defender has apparently wowed enough coaches to be considered scholarship material.

"I truly think she's one of the best soccer players in the state," says East coach Mike Kernodle. "Anytime you can play against the top-flight competition like she has, that's what will make you better," says the 2004 state champion soccer coach.

Porter's basketball teammates say that it's not hard to figure out what makes her so good; all anyone really has to do is step on the court with her.

"We like the energy she brings," says teammate Niesha Gardiner. "She has this drive to always win," the East guard explains.

Porter almost bagged basketball for this season, but, in the end, she thought her teammates were more important than free time.

"Actually, I wasn't going to play, but you make a lot of great friends, so I wanted to be a part of that," Porter explained. Last year, Porter may have lost some of her teammates' trust when she missed East's first-round playoff game in the Class 4A state tournament due to a soccer conflict.

The Leopards ended their 2005-06 season by losing to Lehi, 51-30. Team members say no one player is the reason they failed to advance, because it's always been a team effort. Coming into this season, the team wanted Porter back, but she was undecided.

"As a team, we came together and asked her to play with us," says Gardiner. "You just have to understand her priorities, and her priority is to play soccer in college, and we respect that," Gardiner said.

So far, Porter has missed just a couple of basketball games this season due to soccer tournaments, and the team went (1-1) without her in the lineup.

"They've seen me at my best and my worst. I think my teammates respect me for who I am, and that's an awesome thing to have from a friend," Porter answered.

The Leopards' star plans to be there for East's remaining games and hopes to continue to be a catalyst for the team. After dropping games to West and Cyprus last week, East is facing an uphill climb to reach the 4A tournament.

E-mail: tpeterson@desnews.com