East Rowan’s Porter will take passion for lacrosse to Pfeiffer

Published 8:50 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
By Mike London


GRANITE QUARRY — It’s a Tuesday evening and East Rowan senior athlete Evan Porter is driving to Gastonia for a lacrosse match.

Porter won’t be spectating, he’ll be playing.

He suits up for the Gaston County Patriots, a club team that takes on other clubs and some of the high schools that field lacrosse programs.

Porter imagines that in a perfect world, every high school will have a lacrosse program, and athletes can put on the colors of their school, but that day is still in the future. Maybe his sons will get to play the sport for East Rowan.

For now, Porter has to be content with the knowledge that his favorite sport, the one he will play in college for Pfeiffer University, is the fastest-growing one in the nation. Lacrosse participation has doubled in the last decade.

“Lots of guys from up north have relocated to the south,” Porter said. “That includes lots of good coaches who grew up with the sport and have passed on their lacrosse knowledge to guys like me. The sport is growing, especially in the south.”

It turns out that there is a lacrosse gene. Porter’s mother played college lacrosse at Glassboro State before she moved south.

“In the sixth grade, I picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time and just fell in love with the sport,” Porter said. “I’d grown up with football and wrestling, had done those things all my life, but I knew nothing about lacrosse when I got started. So everything was new and exciting. It still is.”

As a youngster, he traveled to Huntersville to play for the large Carolina Miners program that attracts players mostly from the Charlotte area. One of the Miners coaches, Jim Gallagher, a New York transplant, would prove instrumental in Porter’s development and in him getting an opportunity at Pfeiffer.

“Pfeiffer was looking for a tough ground-ball middie, and that kind of describes me,” Porter said. “He told them he knew a guy.”

Ground balls in lacrosse are those 50/50 balls that are up for grabs for either team. Porter is adept at possessing those ground balls. Those possessions lead to scoring opportunities for his team.

Porter will be the third sibling to play college athletics. Sister Kelby played soccer for Belmont Abbey, while brother Wesley played football with great distinction for Sewanee after starring at East Rowan.

“Wesley’s athletic career was the inspiration for everything that I’ve been able to do,” Evan said. “We got a lot closer during his college years. When he’d come home, he’d help me in so many ways.”

Evan’s promising wrestling career was derailed by injuries and surgeries that began in middle school. He tore the labrum in both shoulders while wrestling.

He did have quite a bit of success in football. He was a starter for the Mustangs in the defensive secondary before he made a transition to receiver as a senior. East threw the ball on about 80 percent of its offensive snaps last fall, and the Mustangs needed Porter’s quickness and toughness as a pass-catcher. He came through with 45 catches for 394 yards and three touchdowns.

“Coaches told me that it would help the team if I moved to offense, and helping the team be better is all that I’ve ever wanted to do,” Porter said. “I missed playing with the guys on defense, but I really enjoyed offense. I wouldn’t change the experiences I had my senior year.”

Some of Porter’s biggest football plays were on special teams, but he had some huge returns called back.

“That used to happen to Wesley a lot, too,” Evan said with a laugh. “There’s always a flag back there somewhere for holding or a block in the back. We called it the Porter Curse.”

But when it comes to lacrosse, the 5-foot-7, 155-pound bundle of energy isn’t cursed. He’s lucky. He carved out a reputation with the Carolina Miners and later with the Gaston County Patriots as a hard-nosed guy in the midfield, a guy who doesn’t back down from anything in a high-contact, high-energy sport.

“I was recruited by Pfeiffer as a midfielder, which means I’ll be involved on the offense and the defense,” Porter said. “Like a soccer midfielder, a lacrosse midfielder has to be able to do a mix of things.”

Porter’s hidden talent is singing — that’s also in the family genes — and his dream profession is music producer.

“Pfeiffer doesn’t offer a music production major, but majoring in business there will give me a chance to learn about that side of things, and the plan is to keep singing with the Pfeiffer Concert Choir,” Porter said.

Porter is a unique guy — a physical, singing lacrosse player.

Lots of scores were reported in a lot of different sports on Monday, but the only one that mattered for Porter was Pfeiffer 11, Southern Virginia 9.

That was a lacrosse score.

“Pfeiffer is 12-0, undefeated, and I can’t wait to be part of that,” Porter said.