Will Porter x’12 is a humble guy.
Despite winning the New York State Rowing Championships three out of four years while in high school, being victorious in the high school division of the Head of the Charles race (one of the most prestigious regattas in all of competitive rowing), and posting an undefeated fall season as a UW senior, Porter says his strong-est motivation has been the chance to contribute to the UW rowing team.
“It’s one of the best in the nation,” says Porter, “so being a good player on this team would be a pretty good accomplishment.”
He’s certainly had that chance. As a sophomore and junior, Porter was a member of the men’s heavyweight team that won the Eastern Sprints (the league championship in which the UW competes), and his boat — the men’s varsity four-plus — finished third in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships in 2009.
In addition, Porter has won about thirty-five shirts. In collegiate rowing, teams win these symbols of success when they defeat an opposing team and literally collect the shirts off the opponents’ backs, a tradition that combines good sportsmanship and innocent wagering between teams.
Although Porter stands six-foot-three and has the build of a football player, he never played that or any other fall sport as a kid. The summer before his freshman year in high school, he took up rowing and eventually attended a rowing camp, sticking with the sport for the past eight years.
His choice to come to Wisconsin — despite plenty of schools with rowing teams much nearer to his home on the East Coast — was an easy one, says Porter. When he visited Madison for the first time, he recalls, he immediately “fell in love with it.”
To describe his UW rowing experience, Porter needs only a few words: “It’s been awesome.”