Student Athlete Profile: Alexis Porter '18

by Lauren Putbrese ’16

Photo of Alexis PorterAlexis Porter ’18 just finished her freshman year of college, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t already reached a number of major accomplishments. The women’s wrestler from the state of New York just came off a gold medal title at 63kg at the Pan American Junior Championships in May. She defeated opponents from Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil on her way to helping the United States win the Pan American team championship.

Q: How did you get started in wrestling?

Porter: I grew up in a wrestling family. My dad was a world class athlete and Olympic alternate in Greco-Roman wrestling. When he met my mother he started her in wrestling as well. When my brother Jesse turned eight he started wrestling too. The first year I was just his practice partner, since I was the only person close to his size. We were both only 70–80 pounds back then. Just drilling with him I naturally picked up the moves and my dad took notice. Then one day when I was 10 he just randomly entered me into my first pee-wee boys wrestling tournament. He told me, “Keep an open mind and just see how you like it.” I ended up beating boys who had been wrestling 5 years longer than I had and took third. I really liked it and ever since then I’ve stuck with the sport.

Q: Why did you choose McKendree?

Porter: Women’s collegiate wrestling is still a very new sport. It is expanding faster than any other collegiate sport, but even so there are still very few universities that have a program in the Northeast, and none in New York as of now. Without the option to stay close to home I began expanding my search and McKendree came up on my radar as a new program. I had met Coach Schmitz at a USA wrestling national team camp and really liked him. I knew almost instantly McKendree was the best fit for me and where I needed to go to continue my athletics and academics.

Q: What are you studying? Why?

Porter: I am currently a professional writing major, as well as a marketing minor. I really enjoy writing and in the future I hope to either write as a screenplay writer for Disney, or a correspondent for National Geographic or ESPN.

Q: Describe a typical practice with Coach Sam Schmitz.

Porter: On most days we will come in and do a series of aerobic exercises to warm up. Depending on whether or not it is a technique day or live wrestling day, we will drill a variety of moves for 30 minutes to an hour to fine tune our technique and emphasize repetition. During the next portion of practice we normally wrestle anywhere from two to four matches with different partners to simulate competition. Lastly, we do some type of conditioning to improve our cardio endurance.

Photo of Alexis PorterQ: What was it like wrestling for Team USA at the Pan American Junior Championships in Cuba?

Porter: I was very fortunate to have been selected to represent Team USA at the Pan American Championships. To me, it feels like a stepping stone for the World Championships and beyond. It was a great opportunity for me to visit a country not many Americans have been able to see and gain some more international wrestling experience.

Q: Do you see wrestling in your future after college?

Porter: Absolutely, after my collegiate career I plan to continue to try out for World and Olympic teams. I have watched every Olympiad since the 2000 games and ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to stand on the top of that podium while my national anthem plays. My most realistic shot in making the team would be just two years after I graduate, in 2020.

Q: Do you have a role model or someone who inspires you?

Porter: My mom and dad are my role models. To say they inspire me would be an understatement - they amaze me. They are two of the most selfless and hardworking people I’ve ever met. They challenge me to be the best in all aspects of my life. I am very fortunate to have been raised by such compassionate parents. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. They have supported me unconditionally and I continue to learn from them every day.