Former Ravenswood football defensive coordinator Jason Jackson remembers Jim Porter - Part III
In 2013 I spent several evenings, stretched over a few weeks, interviewing Mr. Porter for the Ravenswood Football 100 year project. I had over six pages of notes from our talks! I had talked to every Ravenswood coach, or their family, over several years leading up to 2014. I have to say the days spent with Mr. Porter to gain his perspective on Ravenswood Football, as the band director was very special.
When I sat down to put all the interviews together and write the biographies for the 100 year book, Mr. Porter’s stretched out over four pages. I tried several times to pare it down, but just could not do Mr. Porter’s story justice and what he meant to Ravenswood Football - and what Ravenswood football meant to him.
I was able to show how important he was to the team, students, school, and community of Ravenswood during his tenure. This story was originally printed in the 100 year, 190 page game program in 2014. This story is very long, but I felt it was worthy of sharing here, so that more people could see what a great impact Mr. Porter had. Read on to find some unique information and stories on the man we all loved...Jim Porter, Ravenswood High School’s legendary band director.
In 1966 the fourth and final football coach that Jim Porter would team up with was coach Fred Taylor. Porter remembered telling coach Taylor the first time they met, “On Friday night the band’s main purpose is to help you and your team to a victory.” And Porter certainly followed up as he supported coach Taylor and the football team to winning 80 percent of its games up through 1977.
This was the beginning of tremendous growth in Ravenswood and the time that Ravenswood football and the Ravenswood band would become legendary in West Virginia high school history.
The football team went on to win two championships and compete in AAA. During this time of football success, the band would become one of the largest in the state with 225 members. The combination of the football team and the band was a great source of pride for people from Ravenswood.
Porter recalled one of the proudest moments in his directing career when Ravenswood played at Warren Local High School in 1974. He said that he told the field leader to keep the band at the top of the hill where the busses parked until he could check the seating situation. Porter told the field leader that he would signal when they should come down the hill to file into their seating areas.
Porter said that many of Warren’s fans were already in the stadium and there was the familiar crowd noise of people talking. As soon as he found that there was plenty of space for seating he signaled for the field director to start the procession down the hill. Once the field director made it to Porter, the familiar crowd noise began to hush. It became quieter and quieter as the band kept filing into their seats. It got to the point that there was not even a whisper because of the site in front of all the Warren fans.
The Ravenswood band seats were nearly filled, but not every band member was seated yet as the line of walking members still stretched from the stadium clear to the top of the hill where the buses were parked.
Porter said, “It was truly a very proud moment for me as I watched it unfold - a great source of pride for Ravenswood and an intimidating force towards Warren.”
Coach Taylor talked about how intimidating the band was to opposing teams. The opposing coach would often strategize his kickoffs and returns in relation to what end the band was on. The opposing team could not hear their signals once they got within the 20 yard line where the band stand was located.
Coach Taylor said, “We owe many victories to Jim Porter and his band – the opposing team was playing against two defenses out there!”
Porter taught at Ravenswood high till 1980. He became the director of music and band education for Jackson County schools until he officially retired in 1988.
Porter lived on Ashton Street in Ravenswood where he raised his children; Bo, Don, Sarah, and Patty with his late wife, Virginia.
His pride for Ravenswood High and all the students he taught and supported was immeasurable. He was very proud to have worked with the football coaches during football games. He was proud of his bands and their school spirit, and how they believed in the Jim Porter way. Most of all he was fond of the quaint little town of Ravenswood and all it had given him and his family since 1952.
I was very lucky to have sat down with Jim Porter to get his thoughts on Ravenswood football for the 100 year project. I am honored to have known him, and it will always be a special event in my coaching career.