Last year, Ronnie Porter was one of the state’s top girls’ basketball players for St. Paul Como Park High School, leading the Cougars to one of their most successful seasons in school history with her quiet leadership and perseverance.
Today, Porter is leading by that same example at the collegiate level, at the University of Wisconsin, continuing a journey that began during her 2021-2022 senior season.
Last February, Porter and her teammates—seniors Kaylynn Asberry, Cloey Dmytruk, Jada James, Shakyla Walker—were being interviewed as they prepared to represent St. Paul in the Twin City championship against Minneapolis Southwest. While Asberry [St. Peter’s College], Dmytruk [Waldorf University], James [Rochester Community and Technical College], and Walker [North Iowa Area Community College] indicated their college choices during last year’s interview, Porter didn’t reveal her intentions.
“I have a plan,” the 5’4” point guard said at the time. “I’m just keeping it to myself at the moment.”
A month later, after helping Como Park finish third in the 2022 Class AAA state tournament, scoring over 2,000 points in her career, and receiving numerous scholarship offers, Porter made the personal choice to enroll at the University of Wisconsin and join the women’s basketball team as a walk-on.
On Sunday, Jan 8, she had her best game for the Badgers, scoring seven points off the bench, including a first-quarter buzzer-beating three-pointer, in an 81-77 Big Ten Conference victory in Madison over the University of Minnesota.
Though her journey into college basketball has not been a smooth one for the freshman, Porter has persevered. “It was tough in the beginning,” said Yolonda England, Porter’s mother, and high school coach, while watching her daughter compete against the Gophers.
“She wasn’t getting much playing time,” she continued. “But she had to realize that she is a freshman in the Big Ten and she has to be patient and keep working.”
After the game Porter talked about her journey. “It has been tough,” she said.
“The conditioning, and mental aspect is more intense than I envisioned. I just want to improve and continue to grow as a player and teammate.”
So far she seems to be adjusting well and doesn’t appear to regret the journey she has embarked on. “It’s good to be here,” she said smiling. “I made the right choice.”
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.