In more than a decade of sports reporting, I've definitely had the opportunity to meet my fair share of coaches. Each has been memorable for different reasons, and that includes Roy Porter, who passed away recently after a battle with cancer.
I knew Coach Porter not from this job, but a past position when he was first head coach at Cape Cod Academy, and then Sturgis East. In a sea of stern-faced leaders shouting from the sidelines, Porter stood out mostly because he was so quiet. Unlike so many coaches fueled by the intensity of a game or the frustrations of their instruction somehow missing the mark, Porter was a much calmer leader, and even when his teams lost, I rarely saw him without a smile.
I looked forward to covering Porter's games because I knew he'd have insightful comments for me after the final buzzer. He always did. If his team lost, he was truthful about his disappointments, owning his team's errors often as if they were also his own.
Yet, even when the scoreboard boasted numbers not in his favor, he found something positive to remark on. In a game when Sturgis East clawed its way back from a serious 18-6 deficit to put Cape Cod Tech on notice, only to fall by three points in the end, Porter focused not on the errors (layups), but instead on a stellar third quarter.
“It was a great third period,” he said. “We won it by nine.”
In another loss, this time to the CCA program he once coached, Porter made sure to give praise to the team's seniors and their “unbridled enthusiasm for practice.”
I appreciated that Porter seemed to always find something positive to say among the negatives. He also made no secret about the pride he felt for his son, Ben, who played for Sturgis and for his father. Though Ben was certainly treated like every other player on the team, and maybe even worked a little harder, his father couldn't, and wouldn't, shy away from his admiration for Ben and for his brother Truls. It was clear he truly delighted in being a dad, just as he delighted in being a basketball coach.
When his team won a huge game against Cape Tech, one that achieved a few milestones, including most wins in a season and most points scored in a game, Porter's smile was nothing short of infectious.
“We have never scored 76 points in a game before,” he said afterward. “This was terrific.”
The immensity of the moment and what it meant to his players wasn't lost on Porter, who made sure to mention it following the game.
“All these guys have been in the program all those years, so this was exciting for them,” Porter said.
Former Sturgis player Kyle White was one of the players in that momentous game.
“Coach Porter was one of the most influential people I knew. Back in high school he was one of my biggest role models, maybe my only,” White said. “I'll always remember and cherish the great moments we had, and never forget all the lessons he taught me, both in basketball and in life. He will be missed greatly.”
And he will.