Kevin Porter and Travis Gorman build basketball players and young ladies
People Who Matter
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Occupation: Athletic director at Madison La Follette High School
Family: Wife, Kelli; daughters, Bree, 13, and Ryann, 9.
Occupation: Construction worker
Family: Wife, Lynette; daughters, Sierra, 13, and Cora, 5.
JANESVILLE Kevin Porter and Travis Gorman have spent countless hours together the past five years as co-coaches of the Janesville J-Hawks girls basketball team.
Now, as their daughters and the other eight members of the squad are months from beginning high school, Porter and Gorman are nearing the finish line to their long run of working side-by-side.
"Ironically, Travis and I have been talking about that a lot lately," said Porter, 44, whose daughter Bree plays for the J-Hawks.
The J-Hawks are a competitive eighth-grade team comprising entirely Janesville girls.
This season's schedule numbers about 50 games, including many tournaments outside the area.
For Porter and Gorman, coaching basketball is just part of what they have enjoyed in their roles as volunteer coaches.
"I absolutely love coaching the kids," said Gorman, 32, whose daughter Sierra is on the team. "To me, it's about teaching them basketball skills and stuff, but I look at it more as teaching them life skills.
"I always think that if I can make an impact on just one of their lives, to help them make a decision down the road, to head them down the right path, then all this time I've dedicated has been worth every ounce of it."
Porter said he's enjoyed seeing the girls evolve from little 8-year-olds to 13- and 14-year-olds.
"It's been neat to watch them kind of grow, not just as basketball players but as young ladies," he said. "And watching them develop and grasping concepts that you've talked about in the past and get them to actually see those things out on the basketball court.
"And just talking with them about life in general and how sports can translate into everyday life and the things you can use from being an athlete."
The team practices an hour and a half twice a week during the season. Then there are games and weekends spent traveling to tournaments.
Gorman said he does most of the scheduling and team-related paperwork and also maintains the team's website.
"We both run practices," Gorman said. "We both have the same philosophy on the style of basketball we want to play. He'll coach one tournament, and I'll coach the next tournament. So we alternate because we do put a lot of time into it."
Gorman said the team has competed in tournaments in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
"We really push them to play teams that are higher quality because it's the only way to get better," he said.
Through 49 games this season, the J-Hawks had lost only nine times. They also had won six of the nine tournaments they entered.
Porter and Gorman both praised the support of the parents. And the parents appreciate the coaches' time, effort and commitment to their girls.
"They're more of a role model—a good influence on your kids," said Jennifer Nunn, whose daughter, Brooke, is on the team. "They treat them with respect. They're involved with all of them, and not just because their kids are on the team."
Nunn said it's important to have coaches such as Porter and Gorman to provide a positive experience.
"You need people out there to put the time in and the dedication, and it does influence the kids' lives a hundred percent," she said.
Porter already has plans to coach his youngest daughter Ryann's 9-year-old team after the J-Hawks' season ends. Gorman also wants to continue to coach.
"I would like to," he said. "I'm hoping my younger daughter (Cora, 5) gets involved and enjoys basketball as much as my older one. If not, I have thought of looking into just volunteering my time to coach at any youth level. Or even maybe coaching some summer travel teams, some AAU teams. I do enjoy it a lot."