Ask Colton Porter what Warriors Head Coach Chris Gill thinks of his game and he answers for two people.
“I think what we bring is pretty unique. He sees our work ethic. He sees that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to win or to make a big play.”
Unprompted he’s speaking for himself and his younger bro. Colton and Zack Porter are scrappy energetic defenders with high hopes to crack the Warriors roster together this NLL season.
The Chilliwack natives had strong performances during week one of training camp, and are aiming for more of the same when they move to Rogers Arena this weekend for the second and final week of camp before the team hands in their roster on December 10th.
“It would be a dream come true. We’ve been playing together since we were 6-years-old,” Colton reminisces. “It seems like no matter where I end up going, he ends up in the same direction so it would be a pretty cool experience if we both get the green light to go this year.”
Colton, 28, is the second eldest of five Porter brothers. Zack, followed two years later.
“We try to make each other better. We train in the offseason together. We’ve played together for a long time so we kind of go hand in hand to push each other each and every game.”
“It was hectic,” Zack says of growing up in the middle. “It was good from my vantage point because I had older brothers to try and keep up with who were always pushing me to be better. There’s always someone to play with and there was never a sport not going on at home.”
The brothers played junior lacrosse with the Langley Thunder, and have excelled with the summertime Maple Ridge Burrards, appearing in two Mann Cups together. It’s Colton who has gotten closest to the pros so far. He spent parts of 2015 on Colorado’s practice roster and dressed for 2 games that season. This is the fourth NLL training camp he’s been invited to.
For 26-year-old Zack, it’s his first.
“It was a great feeling,” Zack says about signing one of the first free agent contracts from Dan Richardson after taking over the club. “It’s something you work your whole life to try and achieve. It wasn’t expected. You start to lose a little bit of hope every year if you don’t get that call, but if you keep battling eventually it can come.”
Both listed at 5-foot-8, 175-lbs, it is not lost on the pair that they’ve both been physical underdogs in their careers, and they’ve parlayed that into a burning passion to succeed and win.
“A lot of guys don’t have the same heart,” says Colton. “We’ve always been told we’ve been too small and that’s left a bad taste in our mouth to want to win a little bit more and prove people wrong.”
“I had to prove everyone wrong at every tryout for every sport and every game and it just kind of grew bigger every year,” said Zack.
Head Coach Chris Gill has seen their fire and their development in Maple Ridge the past few summers, and that player-coach familiarity could help the pair to find their spot on the roster.
“He’s good behind the bench. He tells you where you’re making a mistake and where you need to get better. He keeps a pretty level head behind the bench when there’s a lot going on. He keeps it pretty mellow for the most part,” says Colton.
“He’s awesome. He’s a players a coach. He’s there to help you learn and get better,” said Zack “As much as you put into the relationship – he’s going to put in just as much to make you better.”
The Warriors need to snip their roster down from 30 to 25 players after this weekend and the brothers know what they’ll need to do to make the team. Though similar with their loose ball activity, tenaciousness and shut down defense, Colton is known to push the ball up the floor in transition, while Zack could be relied on to take face-offs for the team.
“I just have to play real tough defense and limit my mistakes. Go hard where I can go hard and stay smart when I need to stay smart but still takes a few chances,” said Colton.
“I hate to lose and I don’t want to come in to lose. I’ll do whatever it takes to make myself better and my teammates better. This group of guys is confident and positive. We all have something to prove and there’s going to be some good things to come from this group,” Zack said.
Training camp resumes Saturday and Sunday at Rogers Arena before the Warriors open the season at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on the 15th against the Roughnecks.