While at Ottawa High School, Kristen Porter got to play both soccer and softball. At the University of St. Francis, she did the same.
What makes that combination so unique is the fact that both of those are girls spring sports at the IHSA level when she played for the Pirates.
“We didn’t have girls soccer at the time so I played on the boys’ team. I was one of two girls on the team,” Porter explained. “I was a forward in high school but after my senior year, I got a call from St. Francis and they wanted me to go there and play midfielder.”
It was at St. Francis where Porter tried both softball and soccer before simply settling on soccer. Fast forward to present day and she’s made a very similar transition as a coach at Morris Community High School.
“Kristen has been an assistant softball coach for the past four years now and during that time she was learning about how things worked here, while at the same time finishing up her classes,” MCHS athletic director George Dergo said.
This past offseason, Porter exchanged her spring softball coaching duties to take over as the head soccer coach for the Redskins — replacing the departed Jeff Hunt.
A special education U.S. history teacher at the high school, Porter said that she’s simply been biding her time to step up and show interest in the varsity soccer job if and when it came open. “I was a little wary at first, but then I was just waiting for the soccer job to open up,” she said. Which happened when Hunt vacated the position after last spring.
“When Jeff approached me about taking the head coaching job, it was to do it for a couple of years, at which time he would then make a decision after his daughters left,” Dergo said. “Jeff did a good job of keeping the team on good terms when he was here but he made the decision to step down after graduation last year.”
Dergo said that the search to fill the vacancy began right away upon Hunt’s resignation. “We were limited in our choices in the building, which is what we prefer, but we did also look outside the building for candidates,” Dergo said. “She assured me she was ready to go and she was approved at the September board meeting.”
While Porter was late in learning the game of soccer, she said she came to “love it” while in high school — even though basketball was considered “her sport”.
“When I started playing, basketball was my main sport and I was using soccer to get into shape,” she said.
Porter then took that passion to USF.
“My freshman year there, I played both soccer and softball and after two years I realized it was too much,” Porter said. “So I just dedicated myself to soccer.”
Now she’s made a similar move in the Redskins’ athletic department. “I just feel I have more to offer for soccer,” Porter said.
Which is exactly what Dergo likes.
“I knew Kristen had success when she played soccer and I knew she was captain of the St. Francis soccer team for two years,” Dergo said. “She had also always expressed interest in coaching, but she is only in her fifth year as a teacher and she had been a little leery about taking a head coaching position. When the job opened up we talked about it and she again expressed interest. That’s when we went ahead with it, when she said she’d take it.”
Porter is assisted this spring by Kate Carey and Steve Rain. She said that in terms of soccer strategies, she’s going to emphasize both offense and defense the same.
“I think my style is right down the middle,” she said. “To have a solid team, defense is just as important as offense.”