Porter: A team leader on and off the court

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

In the midst of the final month of her college career at Canisius, senior forward Crystal Porter has left a lasting impact on her teammates, coaches and the program itself that will remain for years to come.


The Houston, Texas native, currently averaging 9.9 points per game, along with 5.2 rebounds per game this season, has been a consistent starter the past two seasons and is also very impactful due to her veteran experience and willingness to help her teammates in any way she can.


Initially, Porter did not have any real intention of attending Canisius while being scouted back in high school. However, plans began to change due to the interest the team had in Porter committing to play here.


“What really stuck to me was the team; I was really comfortable compared to all my other visits that I took,” Porter said. “They really made me feel welcome.”


The day she visited, Porter was blessed with sunny weather and also got to experience Buffalo and what it’s all about, specifically the many fine dining places the city has to offer.


Porter also credits the coaching staff for the initial impact they made on her. “They seemed like they genuinely cared about what I want to do after college and I just felt really welcome and like I was part of a family.”


However, it was tough at first for Porter due to homesickness and being away from her family. She began to question if this was the right decision, but the team would “come hang out with me and talk to me and calm me down a little bit because I just felt I needed to go home and they did a good job with that.”


Head Coach Terry Zeh says that it was tough initially for Porter since she came from a place “far-far away,” but has since been amazed at how much she has matured.


Senior guard Tiahana Mills recalled that Porter was the first person she met on her first day, and says “she always just tried to stay positive and stay engaged,” despite her lack of playing time as a freshman.


Advice that Porter got right away on this team was “don’t fight it” and do whatever needs to be done in order to succeed and be a better player, whether it’s listening to coaches or struggling in practice because “in the long run it’s going to help.”


Senior forward Jasmine Mungo says that her initial impression of Porter was that she was very athletic on the court and was a friend and roommate off the court.


“[Porter] has a great determination and work ethic to get better,” Mungo said. She added that Porter has been determined since their beginnings at Canisius. “When we first got here, she was very determined to make her role on the team prominent and [Porter] just carried herself very well.”


“I like to befriend everybody, but for the ones who have a longer distance like I did, try to tell them my story and tell them how long I’ve come and I kind of lead by example,” Porter added.


Zeh said another reason why Porter is a great leader is due to her experiences and the advice she can give to her younger teammates going through the same experience. “When the younger players are struggling, she can speak from a voice of experience.”

Stockton Photo, Inc.

Stockton Photo, Inc.

“I’ve mainly been trying to be a vocal leader and lead by example,” Porter said. “In practice, I give 110% everyday and as a vocal leader, I try to be positive, I try to uphold the pillars that we have, I try to call people out when need be.”


“[Porter] is one who leads by example,” Mungo says, agreeing with her senior teammate. She elaborates by adding how Porter lets her actions on the court speak for itself along with the rest of her teammates. Mungo said when Porter starts to play well, “the whole team can build off of it and we think that’s an essential part of who we are as a team.”


“It’s something that [Porter] always wanted to be able to do is to be a leader for us,” Zeh said. He also says how much the team means to Porter and added one of the things that she’s greatly worked on “to become a leader and become the player she is for us, is her consistency and handling her ups and downs.”


Zeh adds “if you want to be a leader, you’re always going to have ups and downs in life but how do you handle those and keep yourself even keel and I think that’s the thing [Porter]’s gotten really good at.”


“When I came here, I wanted to accomplish just being the best that I could be,” Porter added. When being told the next level is tougher, she just wanted that to be “an accomplishment on its own.”


Her goals were to play Division-I basketball but to also succeed at it as well. And while she may have accomplished that, she always sees room for improvement. “I think I still have a problem with consistency in games” said Porter, “and I always have struggled with that. I plan on being consistent from here on out and that’s definitely one of my all-time goals.”


Porter had the same determination and drive that she does now when she was only a freshman and left a significant impression on her teammates from day one, but also because of ability to make friendships with her teammates.


“On the court, her game has just grown so much,” Zeh says. He believed Porter would be a good fit for the team because “[Porter] does a lot of things; she can score the basketball, she can shoot, she can rebound, she’s a very good passer, so as she’s developed in the system and motion, I think [Porter]’s game has just gotten better and better.”


“[Porter] is a very versatile player and the ways that she takes the time to perfect her craft, whether it’s post play or guard play with us losing a few players, she’s had to be able to play both roles and doing an excellent job with that,” Zeh said.


Porter is also a great mentor for the younger players on the team, “she talks to the girls on the team and definitely gives them confidence.” Mills said Porter pushes her teammates to be their best and “make sure everyone’s staying up and still being confident in their shots.”


“[Porter]’s always been great off the court,” Mungo said. “We always had a pretty good relationship, but basketball wise, her self-control of the court; her ability to turn it on and off as far as being controlled offensively and attack defensively has been something that has really developed her game and take it to another level.”


“The mark that everyone is hoping for and that she’ll get is that she just leaves it all out on the floor,” Mills said, referring to the impact Porter made on this team. She adds that Porter “is still staying positive and she’s not giving up on the team.. I think that’s the kind of mark she wants to leave on the team.”


Zeh believes that Porter is a special player, because “in a world today where everybody wants everything instantly, to look at [Porter] sticking through those four years and getting better and better, they can point to that.” He says the same about her academics, that “she stuck with it, kept working and got better and better.”


Mungo says Porter’s mark on the team would be made “to show her versatility as a great player, and the next team next year, whatever obstacles they may face, they can look to [Porter] and say she was a good role model and to never give in and to keep on pushing whatever obstacle she has to get through.”


Zeh believes that Porter is a special player, because “in a world today where everybody wants everything instantly, to look at [Porter] sticking through those four years and getting better and better, they can point to that.” He says the same about her academics, that “she stuck with it, kept working and got better and better.”


“What I really want to do is just get that ring,” Porter said, referring to winning the MAAC championships. “At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do. I don’t care if I have two rebounds, six points and zero assists, at the end of the day, I want everybody to come together as a team and get the ring that I want for everybody and for our seniors this year; I want everybody to have that experience.”


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