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LAYTON — The basketball season is over, but that doesn’t mean the work is finished for Layton Christian Academy boys basketball coach Bobby Porter.
Porter sits in his office clacking away on his keyboard on a web site called FieldLevel, a social media network that allows coaches like Porter to connect with college coaches scouting for high school talent.
Porter, who also has his phone connected to FieldLevel so he can get instant notifications, estimates that he spends about six hours a day – including weekends – on the network to help his kids find a place to play.
A phone call comes in. It’s a community college coach from Washington who is interested in coming to Layton to see some of Porter’s players.
Towards the end of the call, Porter starts to talk about a player who wasn’t even on his team but who he thought flashed college potential.
“That’s what I do,” Porter simply said.
If it isn’t yet clear just how much emphasis Porter — the All-Area Coach of the Year for the 2015-16 boys basketball season — puts on helping his students get into college, perhaps his attitude following Layton Christian’s gut-wrenching one-point loss in the 2-A championship in February will serve as the ultimate confirmation.
Instead of lamenting the loss, Porter chose to emphasize the next step: getting his kids into college.
“I had a high school coach who died on the floor and he busted his butt for me and helped me be highly recruited,” said Porter, who played at Tennessee Tech University. “All of my coaches … have been really, really good … If (coaches) don’t care about these young men or whomever you coach, then don’t coach. It’s not about just Xs and Os and wins and losses.”
Porter’s wife of 34 years, Montenna Porter, jokes that when basketball season starts she considers her husband her “roommate.”
Make no mistake, though; she loves his dedication.
“It makes him happy and when he’s happy, I’m happy,” she said. “Honestly, just to sit back and see him light up… It’s a blessing seeing him have the joy he has for these kids.”
That joy doesn’t mean he’s easy, though.
Just ask Mark Burton.
Burton came to Layton Christian prior to his junior year and was immediately one of the top scoring threats on the team. This past year as a senior, he averaged a team-high 20.8 points per game while also handing out 4.1 assists per game.
Burton said Porter coached him as if he was a college athlete, preparing him for how he may be treated at the next level.
Burton recalled walking into practice one day and being told he had to do what’s called a “towel drill.” The drill involves getting on all fours and pushing a towel back and forth across the gym floor.
The drill, according to Burton, is meant as disciplinary action, but he didn’t think he had done anything to deserve such a punishment. Later, Burton said Porter told him it was meant as a test of obedience.
“I ended up doing them but what he came back and told me was even if you’re right, you always have to just swallow your pride and do whatever consequence the coach may have, and cordially talk to them after,” Burton said. “Skills and life lessons like that help you go a long way and be successful.”
Burton admitted to being “still a little mad about the whole thing” even after Porter’s explanation, but acknowledged he was able to calm down after looking at the bigger picture.
“He was looking after me and trying to help me grow,” Burton said.
Layton Christian lead administrator Greg Miller said Porter “cares deeply about his players.”
“He’s going to be their best friend on a day when they need a best friend, he’s going to be their advocate on a day when they need an advocate, but he’s also going to be their biggest disciplinarian on a day he thinks they need discipline,” Miller said.
Miller admitted he wouldn’t have guessed Porter would have have stuck around this long, but said he thinks Porter sees what he’s doing as his “calling.”
“This is what he was created to do, and it isn’t just about basketball,” Miller said.