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Football: Fairview’s Porter trying to kick past concussion issues

  • NICKPORTER69.JPG BEST1 Fairview High School Nick Porter kicking practice with...

    Paul Aiken

    NICKPORTER69.JPG BEST1 Fairview High School Nick Porter kicking practice with his coach Matt Thompson at the school's practice field on Thursday July 26, 2014. Photo by Paul Aiken / The Daily Camera

  • With concussions keeping him from his first love of soccer,...

    Paul Aiken / Daily Camera

    With concussions keeping him from his first love of soccer, Nick Porter hopes his left leg can make an impact for the Fairview football team



Naturally, Nick Porter’s best opportunity to bounce back from concussion issues was to become a football player.

Sound a little backwards? It might. But Porter, who will be a senior this year at Fairview High School, has tried to fend off the head trauma while continuing to play soccer long enough.

Though he is holding out hope the sport which he considers his first love will still be there for him in the future, Porter is turning to the Knights football team to keep his competitive juices flowing as the team’s placekicker.

The striker with a devastating left leg is already showing a knack for booting the football a long, long way.

“I think the sky is the limit for him, just like it was in soccer,” said Matt Thompson, a private instructor who has been working with Porter for just about three months. “He’s advancing really quickly, and I just see a bunch of talent there.

“When I first evaluated him, he was kicking 15, 20 yards the first five balls. I made a couple changes, next thing he’s hitting 40, 45. A month later, he hit 65. He’s advancing really quick.”

As a sophomore in the fall of 2012 Porter scored eight goals for Fairview’s Class 5A Final Four team but moved to the Colorado Rapids Development Academy before the injury issues grew. Eight months ago, Porter was still focused on returning to the pitch. But five years of dealing with multiple concussions — he suffered two of them late in 2013 with the Rapids Academy — finally caught up with him.

Doctors suggested he give up the sport completely, and Porter said he couldn’t do any soccer training since December 1. When talking to good friend Johnny Feauto about things later on, Feauto offered up the idea to talk to football coach Tom McCartney about joining them.

“It’s been a really tough transition, but kicking’s the only thing I’ve really been able to do as far as working out,” Porter said. “I’ve just been putting all my effort toward this, and I think it’s been going pretty good.”

Working with Thompson, who helped Jon Embree’s special teams at CU and now instructs privately full-time, has been extremely beneficial. Porter attended the Kohl’s Kicking Camp in Golden just a couple weeks ago, and by finishing with high rankings in both kicking and punting was invited to the Kohl’s National Invitational Scholarship Camp, which will take place in Milwaukee in mid-July.

That invitation alone has shown the kind of rapid growth for Porter, who said that kicking a football is quite different than a soccer ball.

“I was always taking the free kicks with the Rapids, and on those you want your toes up to bend the ball,” Porter said. “That is the complete opposite with kicking, so when I was first starting, balls were going everywhere. Now I know how to control my body.

“That camp is going to be big, because they are going to rank you. I think there are 500 kids from around the country, so it’s going to be hard, but I think I have what it takes.”

“We’re definitely excited to see what Nick can do. We haven’t seen a lot of him, but we’re excited that he’s a part of our team,” said McCartney. “He had friends on the team, and they all speak very highly of him. The coach that he’s been working with also said he felt like he was a natural.”

Porter will be glad to help the Knights on the field after the weapon that was Jonathan Swartzwelter graduated. McCartney said there were a couple of kids in the mix after some spring scrimmages, but Porter has the inside track to the job.

Forgive Porter if his top priority is earning a scholarship or at least an opportunity to walk on to a college team. As a soccer player, those chances were already lining up before concussions were an issue.

“I was looking at all the (Division I) colleges before I got injured,” Porter said. “It’s starting from the beginning. I’m just really working for that scholarship, because that’s always been my dream. It’s just a different sport now.”

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