Boys lacrosse: Geneva's Porter learns how to manage diabetes, excel at sports

  • Senior Alex Porter has learned to manage diabetes while excelling in lacrosse and football at Geneva.

    Senior Alex Porter has learned to manage diabetes while excelling in lacrosse and football at Geneva. Courtesy of Alex Porter

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/5/2022 7:19 PM

For Alex Porter, the warning signs were profound.

He was thirsty. Really thirsty, so much so that he was drinking up to four gallons of water a day. Not surprisingly, he was also asking Geneva boys lacrosse coach Lucas Rojas for permission to use the bathroom multiple times during practice.


"I was doing that for a month, and my parents looked it up and (learned) it might be diabetes," recalled Porter, a senior defenseman and captain, of his spring 2021 lacrosse campaign, which overlapped for two weeks with football.

He and his folks went to the doctor and sure enough, he was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.

"I didn't know what to think," said Porter, who was Geneva's football quarterback as well. "My grandpa is Type 2 diabetic. In the moment, I wasn't sure how that would impact me. I was sitting there and looked over at my parents and they were a lot more impacted than I was.

"When I saw that, I'm like, This is a lot bigger deal than I thought it would be."

But did he let it stop him? Nope.

"He missed only one game and was back at practice after only a weekend off," Rojas said. "I got to see him manage and handle his diabetes. He was wearing a patch and when we had water breaks, he had an app on his phone which he checked, and he kept snacks in his bag."

Rojas has known Porter since his freshman year and noted that his goal all along has been to play sports in college. That he will next year, as he'll participate in football and lacrosse at North Central College in Naperville.

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"He didn't let that deter his goal," Rojas said. "He's used this to adapt and get better. He's a mature and tough kid."

Porter said that his coaches in both football and lacrosse have been extremely helpful and understanding throughout it all.

But it was an adjustment, of course. He always carries his mobile phone with him, along a bag with needles and sugar. If he feels a little off, he'll go to the sideline and check things out.

Now he's on the cusp of big things post-Geneva, including the likely pursuit of an education degree at North Central, because he wants to coach either football or lacrosse.

But he also has some advice for other kids who might be experiencing what he did, particularly the excessive thirst and bathroom runs.

"Always talk to your doctor and talk to your parents, too," he said. "Like most things in life, you don't want to battle it alone.


"If you have diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, it's manageable. It's going to take an adjustment, but everyone I know who has it is doing a phenomenal job with it."

Bartlett, South Elgin unite:

Last spring, South Elgin slipped past Bartlett 9-5 in a stout rivalry matchup.

This spring, the schools are joining forces, under the watchful eye of first-year coach Michael Colaianne, who accepted the South Elgin position last August.

"One day, I got a call from my athletic director, saying, Hey, Bartlett is having trouble getting numbers out for the program and asked about the possibility of a co-op program," Colaianne said. In December, the final decision to unite was a go, and an already potent South Elgin team suddenly added 13 impact players from the east side of Highway 59.

That included Bartlett senior midfielder Damian Sokol, whose job on the field is to ensure the offense runs properly. Senior defender Matt Sprehe does the same on defense, while senior attackman Jacob Scearce has been a real tone-setter so far for the 2-2 Storm.

Now consider South Elgin veterans like junior midfielder Henry Kolbe, who has embraced the role of being the team's primary faceoff specialist. Then there is the addition of sophomore goaltender Jake Sullivan, who Colaianne said is

"an absolute rock between the posts."

This might sound like the motion picture Remember the Titans, so it begs the question: How did Colaianne meld the talents of two rivals?

"The nice thing is due to both schools being located near each other, there is a lot of familiarity between the guys," Colaianne said. "In terms of getting everyone on the same page and building those relationships, that became a much smoother process."

How this arrangement ends up no one knows, of course, but don't be surprised if South Elgin is in the hunt for a sectional or supersectional title. Or maybe more.

Family affair for Hampshire:

It was a first in Hampshire coach Collin Rustay's career -- a team with not one, not two, but three sets of brothers, including two pairs of twins.

That group includes seniors Matt and Ryan Innes, a goaltender and attackman, respectively. Then you have junior midfielder Nate Jensen and his twin defenseman Ryan. Finally, there is senior attackman Jackson Smith and his sophomore midfielder brother Campbell.

Get all that?

"It speaks to the growth of (lacrosse) here," Rustay said. "Everyone around here wants to play it. At our high school level, we had 53 kids register for lacrosse. The growth here has been phenomenal. The youth program has done a great job and our athletic director Mike Sitter has done a great job."

The on-field dynamic is always interesting. Being a goalie and an attackman, there can be some good-natured trash talk between the Inneses. Ditto for the Jensens, who debate about who is better.

Conversely, Jackson Smith offers advice to his brother, and most of the time it goes over well, but Rustay does point out with a chuckle, "sometimes it's not always received the right way."

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