Lady Dragon improves her game with mental toughness

08/29/2014 1:49 PM

08/29/2014 1:50 PM

There are no longer the doubts. There is the freedom to believe. There is no longer the feeling that if something isn’t perfect, it’s not good enough. There is the strength to move on.

Therein lays the transformation of Carroll junior outside hitter Megan Porter. A year of growth both mentally and physically has Porter establishing herself as one of the core players for Class 6A No. 1 Carroll. At press time, the Lady Dragons (21-0) were looking to claim their another tournament championship at the Plano Tournament this past weekend.

Porter (6-1) is teaming up with an intimidating front court that has depth and skill. The options are comprised of Madison Drescher, Paige Panter and Haley Hallgren. Not many programs in Texas can match that.

“I’m just a mentally tougher player,” Porter said. “I know what I need to do, and I know what I can do. If I make a mistake, I’ll just learn from it and get to the next point.”

Like many underclassmen coming through a program, they may be a little more quiet and not willing to say more. Porter was a little like that. She didn’t carry as much clout on the 2013 state semifinal team that was filled with several seniors.

But to prove herself, she felt like she had to be perfect on the court every time she had an opportunity. While the effort never suffered, the idea of making a mistake hounded her.

And then an off-season working with new Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell and her AAU coach, Jason Williams, seemed to change her outlook. In sports, there is never any such thing as perfection. The best outside hitters are considered great if they’re connecting on a little more than 30 percent of their attempts.

“When working with them, especially Coach Williams, it just gave me a confidence boost,” Porter said. “He just kept telling me that if I miss on a kill shot, just keep swinging. That didn’t sound like much. But it really helped me.”

Porter came to fall camp energized and ready to unleash. Mitchell saw that and put her into the starting lineup. So far, Carroll’s offense has been prolific. Porter was among the team leaders in kills (121), serving aces (10), hitting percentage (.310) and serve-receive passing (2.06).

The other noticeable difference is what you don’t see but what you hear. Given Porter’s power – a trait noticeable throughout Carroll’s roster – you can tell the force by which a ball is being struck by the sound. Mix that with control and that becomes the desired combination.

“You could tell her year, specifically her club year, was very good both offensively and defensively,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes, she’ll play with a quiet disposition. But she’s a fierce competitor.

“When she’s on the bench, she’s always offering feedback to her teammates. The great thing is that she really has enjoyed being in the crunch time. She wants to be there.”

That could mean something in November as Carroll strives for a second consecutive appearance in the state tournament. District 7-6A play begins Sept. 12 against Hurst L.D. Bell. There will be tests from Colleyville Heritage and Coppell.

“I’m a mentally tougher player,” Porter said. “You take the good with the bad. I’m just going to go out there and swing.”

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