Apr 14, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterRon Porter, whose Riverton Lady Wolverine basketball team won 13 games and qualified for the state Class 4-A basketball tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, has been named the Fremont County girls basketball Coach of the Year by the sports staff of the Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News.
Porter just completed his third season as the head basketball coach of the Lady Wolverines.
"Our first year we had just one win. For those girls to come back and battle as long as a basketball season is, after only tasting victory once, is admirable. Those kids are equally important to the success that our team had this season," Porter said.
In his second season, Riverton managed five wins. This year's team nearly tripled that.
More steps to take
"There were some tough times. I thought we should have been, this year, at the very least, 17-11, but those are steps that need to be taken. We were 16 points away from second place in our conference. To be close is one thing, but to finish people off is another step that needs to be taken," Porter said.
Porter, a retired English teacher at Riverton High School, began his coaching career in 1977 as a volleyball coach and assistant basketball coach for two years in Rawlins. Next came six years in Cody, where he was both a volleyball and boys basketball coach before he moved to Riverton and continued his basketball coaching career.
He grew up in Riverton and was a standout player for the Wolverines in the early 1970s.
"I've always loved the game (of basketball). Had I not loved the game, there is no way I could still be coaching. I've always had a lot of support from my family, and it's now a lot easier to go to practice having not had to stand in the classroom all day long," Porter said.
Porter followed Mike Harris as Riverton's boys head basketball coach from the 1991-92 season through 2000. After he was replaced by Lars Flanagan in that position, he wondered whether he would ever coach again.
It wasn't long before Riverton's former boys coach Steve Barlow ,who followed Flanagan, recruited Porter to join his staff as an assistant coach, and Porter was back on the hardwood.
"You only get so many chances, and that is why I am so appreciative of the school district for giving me this opportunity. There are always people who question you. I love this community, and I love Riverton High School," Porter said.
Porter said he hopes to continue coaching for a long time.
"I have the job I want most right now with these girls. We've got a lot of work to do in this program. We have taken some little steps, but we need a much bigger commitment in the off-season, and that is happening. I am aware that these kids need to commit to other sports too, but I am a believer that, if you look back, the teams, both boys and girls, that have been successful have kids that are involved in a number of activities," Porter said.
Porter, who is worried about the trend of sports specialization, believes that there needs to be a dialogue among coaches to better understand that kids are shared among many activities because Riverton is one of the smaller schools in Class 4-A.
Porter doubts that he will ever coach volleyball again as the game has changed so much since he coached the sport in the 1980s. Basketball is where is heart is, even though that sport has evolved as well.
"I was coaching when we had a jump ball after every field goal," quipped Porter, one of the wittiest coaches around.
Porter is married to longtime Riverton Middle School teacher Toi Porter. His father, the late Bob Porter, was Riverton's head coach in the 1950s.
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