Lady Raider lands saintly scholarship

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If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.

Okotoks Lady Raider Kylie Porter is a testament to determination in landing a field lacrosse NCAA scholarship with the Division II Limestone College Saints after a less than ideal start in the sport.

“To play for university for lacrosse has been my goal since I realized that option,” said Porter, a Grade 12 student at Highwood High School. “My first year of lacrosse I didn’t want to be in lacrosse I thought “mom, why did you put me in this?’ I fell in love with the game and as soon as I found out there were opportunities to continue my schooling, academic and athletic, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Porter began her career playing with the boys program in High River — introduced to the sport by fellow High Riverite Julia Porter (no relation) — before transitioning into the highly successful Okotoks Raiders female program in second year Bantam.

“I loved the boys, but I was getting too small to play with them,” she said. “The girls in Okotoks were really nice and welcoming and it really helped me to learn how to play on a girls team.

“Throughout the lacrosse community I’ve created so many connections through Okotoks Raiders and its given me lots of opportunities. I know girls from all over the province and it helped me to discover field lacrosse and so many other opportunities.”

Porter, who plays her field lacrosse with the Mustangs program, got on the Saints radar following a summer recruiting tournament with Edmonton’s Vimy Ridge Academy down in Maryland and Virginia.

It was a sprint to the finish to get Porter in a position to finalize her agreement with Limestone.

She only began talking to the school in July and needed to commit by the end of October as an international student with financing a little more scarce for those outside of the 50 states.

“They really needed the commitment so they wouldn’t lose that on other girls who could potentially come in,” she said. “My commitment was really fast. I had to take my SAT to go on an official visit and only had 10 days to study for me SAT before I could go down there.”

Prospective students often take several weeks to prepare for the SAT. Without that luxury, the High Riverite had a tactical approach to the entrance exam and scored a 990.

“I’m not super strong in math, but I am in English and that definitely helped me,” she said. “In those 10 days I had tournaments. I had the Calgary Field Day tournament and even at that tournament I was studying online.”

Once at the quaint Gaffney, South Carolina campus Porter was struck by the small-town charm reminiscent of her hometown in contrast to some of her other tours in larger settings.

“To be on a lacrosse team and being so far from home I realized I needed the support system,” she said. “The fact my coach was so nice, I could get a long with him and the girls were so welcoming, I stayed with another Canadian from Ontario. They really helped me make the choice.

“I loved the campus and when I was down there felt like it was home and could be home for four years.”

Limestone is the 13th ranked team in the country, competing in the Conference Carolinas. The Saints men’s program is a powerhouse having just won its third national championship in the past four years.

“It’s a super well put together program,” Porter said. “All the girls have good heads on their shoulders and I think the coach picks out a good group of girls. Lots of talent down there, for sure.”

None of these opportunities would have been there if Porter, a former figure skater and soccer player, pulled the chute on lacrosse.

“There are so many opportunities out there that we don’t even realize being from Alberta,” she said. “I didn’t see these opportunities until I talked to people, got to know people and found them. Even if you don’t like at it first, stick with it. That’s something that really helped me along.

“With box and field lacrosse at first I thought “I don’t like this’ and ended up loving it.”

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