Porter returning to Fort Dodge
1999 FDSH graduate will be activities director at the school
Josh Porter has fond memories of being a Fort Dodge Dodger, from his state championship wrestling season over two decades ago to the positions he held as a young coach just getting started professionally.
The accomplishments in the arena or on the field certainly shaped Porter as a competitor. But the bigger picture and lessons learned during his time here helped make him the husband, father and leader he is today.
Now, Porter is ready to come home and start giving back.
The 1999 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate was officially named FDSH’s new activities director on Friday. Porter will formally replace the outgoing Kevin Astor – who is retiring – on July 1.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to serve in this role,” said Porter, who has been the activities director in the Clarinda Community School District since 2017. “Fort Dodge is a special place, so this isn’t a decision I approached lightly. My family and I wanted to make sure we were ready; while Fort Dodge has always been on my radar, so to speak, the timing had to be right.
“I consider myself a very loyal person by nature, and Clarinda has been so good to us. I’ve been here a long time. It’s where I met my wife, and where my kids were born and raised. Both Fort Dodge and Clarinda will always have my love and respect. This is a destination job for someone like me, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of (the FDCSD) for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading Dodger athletics and activities into the future.”
Porter won a 171-pound state title on the mat for the Dodgers in 1999, was a multi-year letterwinner in football and baseball, and FDSH’s ’99 Schultz Award winner. He was a captain and All-American for the Iowa Central Community College program, then the most valuable wrestler and a two-time captain at Central College in Pella.
Porter obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Central in 2006, and his Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University in 2010.
“I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to be a teacher and a coach,” Porter said. “I just loved working with kids; I always had a passion and energy for helping athletes reach their potential.
“(Long-time Clarinda superintendent) Paul Honnold helped with the transition into athletic administration. He really showed me the way, and was instrumental in seeing something in me that maybe I didn’t even see at the time.
“When I look back now, I think of all of the leaders who helped me get to this point and shaped my career (as an administrator). (Then-FDSH athletic and activities director) Tom Kinseth hired me as a middle school football coach here when I was getting started. I coached (baseball) under (former FDSH athletic and activities director) Matt Elsbecker (from 2003-06), who had a huge impact on me and is still a role model to this day. Even going back to my time here as an athlete, competing for people like (football) Coach (Sam) Moser and (wrestling) Coach (Ed) Birnbaum, and with Don Miller as our AD at the time…it wasn’t always about whether we won or lost, as much as it was showing us how to believe in ourselves; what it meant to be a Dodger (athlete) and a positive representative of Fort Dodge. I’m excited to follow in their footsteps, and continue my relationships with them as mentors when I get back to town.”
Porter had stints as the head wrestling coach at both North Mahaska and Clarinda, along with being an assistant football coach. He was the middle school principal at Clarinda from 2015-17, and served as the district’s interim high school principal as well.
“I’m all about people and relationships,” Porter said. “I’ve been away from Fort Dodge for a while. I recognize a lot of names and faces, but I have a lot of learning to do. I’ll spend most of July and the rest of the summer listening, observing, and working with leaders in both athletics and activities on the culture and climate of their programs: what works, and what needs to be addressed. How can I help? What do we represent here? Lay that foundation early on — not just at the high school level, but all the way down through the middle school and elementary levels.
“This is a challenging position. Administration is not for everyone. But I love it, personally. Working with kids, inspiring kids, making them feel welcome and encouraging them to participate in activities and athletics – that is a responsibility I embrace.
“It’s all about developing good balance and support. There are tough moments you have to get through, but never bad days.”
FDSH principal Staci Laird is optimistic Porter will be the right fit for the position and the students of her school.
“We are excited to welcome Josh to our FDSH team,” Laird said. “He is committed to providing our youth with quality experiences, and he brings with him an enthusiasm for the Fort Dodge community that will keep us growing and moving into the future.”
Porter and his wife, Sandy, have three children: daughter Carson, age 10; and sons Knox (8) and Kruz (4).