By Zach Womble for The White House Connection
Longtime White House football coach Jeff Porter was inducted into the Tennessee Football Coaches Association (TNFCA) Hall of Fame on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Life Church in Cookeville during the TSSAA football state championship weekend.
Porter joined three other coaches – Graham Clark, Mickey Marley, and Clint Satterfield for the ceremony.
Porter and the other three inductees join 51 coaches who are already in the hall of fame.
Porter has coached for 35 seasons, 34 of those at White House. He has served as the Blue Devil head coach for the last 30 years (1987-2016), has compiled a 252-112 record and is the longest current tenured coach in Class 4-A in Tennessee.
His 1997 Class 3A White House team claimed the state title and he has guided his teams to two undefeated regular seasons (1997 and 2004). His teams have made 27 playoff appearances and won 46 playoff games. He has eight seasons of 10 wins or more (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2013).
Porter has guided his teams to six state semifinal games (1990, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2004 and 2008) and has 17 quarterfinal appearances (1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997. 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014).
Porter recently spent a few minutes with the White House Connection to talk about his career.
A tremendous honor
“(Being inducted into the hall of fame) is a very humbling feeling to be honest with you,” Porter said. “Coming from the standpoint of respecting the process for the way they select. I think it is voted on by an entire state. That is a very humbling and overwhelming feeling to know that it reaches across the state. It reminds you of your journey when you have been in this for as long as we have been in. When you go in the playoffs in the west to Memphis and east to Knoxville you meet people and make acquaintances along the way. That part is very humbling and very I’m honored to go in with the class I’m going in with.”
Support from the community
“I would like to thank all of the players, not only for the past 34 years but those who came before that, for their sacrifices to the football program and for this community,” Porter said. “Included in that are the parents of every kid, Quarterback Club members and the fellow coaches that I have had the privilege of working beside. It has been rewarding to be able “to dream” together and see dreams become reality. I hope we never lose that spirit of thinking ‘what can we do next to make this a better place, program or whatever.’ It really is a team effort.”
How he got his start
“I went into coaching when I was 16 years old and I went in because of baseball,” Porter said. “Back then you had to pick up a second sport and the second sport I picked up was football. The most positive influences I had were my high school coaches. I wasn’t by far the star player or a very good player. I was an average guy on the team but I learned at a very early age how people should be treated. My high school coaches treated me just like they would anyone else. When it came time looking for a job, my high school coach, Calvin Short, got me an interview in Florida and that’s how I ended up in Crestview, Florida for one year. Then in 1983, (White House head coach) Robert Lassiter, brought me home and gave me a job at White House as an assistant when Tommy Bateman left.”
The thrill of Friday nights
“I still get excited every Friday,” Porter said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 15-0 or 0-10 I still get excited every Friday. The thing I enjoy about this profession is that I’m getting paid to do something I don’t consider work. I feel like I’ve been stealing for the last 35 years. I think too many times in this profession the word ‘coach’ is taken too lightly by coaches themselves. It doesn’t matter if high school, middle school, junior pro or tee ball if someone puts the word coach in front of it, it should ring a bell in our ears that people are looking to us for leadership or guidance and they’re looking at us to see how we handle situations whether positive or negative. We have to remember we have the opportunity to influence someone’s life and we have to remember that we can influence in a positive or negative way. So, I think we needed to be reminded every day of that. I’m just thankful for the people I called coaches were a positive influence on me and I want to give back because this is such an honorable profession to influence someone every day.”
“Just to be able to walk this journey with my wife who has been there every game — every win, every loss and just to see how my children have grown up,” Porter said. “To see their walk with the Lord and their strength in their faith. It is a testament to my wife because there are so many times over these years I wasn’t there as far as early years being a young ambitious coach. She is the rock of our house. As you get older you look back on things and I appreciate and I’m so proud of my girls and my wife. She has done a great job being there in times when I wasn’t there. That is the proudest thing being in this profession is how my family and kids turned out and that is a testament to my wife.”