Drake Porter has received a verbal commitment to play NCAA Division I lacrosse starting in the fall of 2016.
The 17-year-old Aurora native was in the envious position of considering offers from four U.S. Division I universities this summer, but the decision to go with the Syracuse University Orange men’s lacrosse team was an easy one. Drake says the school has always been a frontrunner for him for many reasons, like its close proximity to home, veteran coaches, and being in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. He also likes the university’s strong academic offerings, including a communication program he hopes to get in to.
What wasn’t so easy for Drake was making the decision to leave St. Andrew’s this September to attend a school where he can play and train year round. “It was overwhelming actually,” he admits, especially since he’s attended SAC since grade 6 and knew he’d be leaving his school, friends, sports, and social opportunities behind in his all-important graduating year.
After much soul searching, however, he felt the athletic opportunity at Florida’s IMG Academy would increase his odds of breaking the starting lineup at Syracuse as a freshman versus “riding the bench for a couple years.” Still, the honour roll student says he plans to keep in touch and will pack his practice chanter along with his goalie stick so he can keep up with the bagpipes, an instrument he’s played since Middle School.
Drake’s talent and enthusiasm for the sport of lacrosse is undeniable. He began playing box lacrosse at the age of 3 and was introduced to field lacrosse and goal when he came to SAC, stepping in to cover when the regular goalie was injured on the U14 team. He has been the starting goalie for SAC’s Varsity Lacrosse team since grade 10.
“I know I’ll be leaving a hole on the team, but after his initial disappointment in seeing me leave, Coach Reid has been nothing but supportive,” says Drake.
“Coach (Greg) Reid has helped to develop me as a player, and this summer has been helpful in guiding me along the recruitment path. He spent 45-minutes on the phone with me recently.” As well as coaching Drake at SAC, he also coached him during summers as net-minder for the U19, U16, and U14 Newmarket Redbirds. It was on the U19 team that Drake was voted all-Ontario goalie, leading the club team to the 2014 Ontario Junior Men’s Field Lacrosse League championship where he was voted game MVP.
It was also Coach Reid who recommended Drake try out for Edge Lacrosse, an elite team pulled from top players across the province. He’s played with them since grade 9, travelling in the U.S. at showcase tournaments. It was as a member of the all-star team at a showcase tournament that he caught the eye of recruiters. This game led to an invitation to a one-day prospect camp that opened up a dialogue with the coaching team at Syracuse.
“Drake is a passionate player who absolutely hates to let a single ball in the net, even in practice,” says Coach Reid. "He consistently demonstrates unparalleled intensity and dedication when it comes to being the last line of defense for his team. We will certainly miss Drake this fall, but it is rewarding to know that St. Andrew’s lacrosse has contributed to Drake’s development, and to the achievement of his dream of playing DI lacrosse at a perennial powerhouse like Syracuse. Without question he has all the tools to be an NCAA Division I starter in his freshman year.”
Drake says he is inspired by SAC lacrosse alumni who’ve gone on to play lacrosse at post-secondary institutions, such as Jayson Card ’07 (Hofstra University), and from the Class of 2011, Patrick Root (Drexel University), Leland de Langley (McGill University), and his own brother, Chris Porter, who played lacrosse at Queen’s for four years. Drake also looks up to former Syracuse goalie, John Galloway, now playing semi-pro in the Major League Lacrosse.
“This is my proudest accomplishment,” Drake says, who is preparing to leave for the U.S. later this month to give the sport he loves his best shot. Wearing his Syracuse Orange cap, he shakes his head and smiles as he adds, “I will miss football this fall though. I’m not the best but it sure is cool to be part of the team.”
Good luck, Drake. You’ll always be an Andrean and you’ll always be welcome at St. Andrew’s!
Story by Cindy Veitch