Stepping Up to the Plate: Carson Porterfield’s Story

“After the accident, I looked at life as a second opportunity, because the doctors told me I should’ve been dead.”

Carson Porterfield, a junior pitcher for the Piedmont Lions baseball team, lives his life with a certain sense of humility, as after experiencing a near fatal boating accident, he knows how quickly one’s life can be taken from them.

“I was thankful that God had given me another opportunity to prove why I’m still here.” Porterfield said.

Porterfield was born in May 1997 into an idyllic American family unit. He and his family, consisting of his two parents and older brother, Chad, have lived in the same house to this day. Porterfield associates several sentimental memories with the house, many of which have to do with sports.

“When my brother and I were little, we had a basketball goal in our driveway,” Porterfield said. “We would always shoot basketballs together, and he trained me to get stronger and play better.”

With his brother’s influence ingrained into his upbringing, Porterfield fully immersed himself into the domain of sports.

“I played football, basketball and baseball, all three of those sports in middle school,” Porterfield said. “I swam for my neighborhood team since my school didn’t have one of their own.”

Although when Piedmont students see Porterfield now, they see a 6-foot tall, broad shouldered athlete, this hasn’t always been the case. During the transition from middle school to high school, when all of the guys were getting taller and broader, Porterfield fell behind. His lack of a growth spurt outed him from playing the sports he loved that required those who were more vertically inclined.

“I stopped playing basketball, everyone was so much taller than me and it wasn’t fair,” Porterfield said. “I stopped playing football, everyone was bigger and beating up on me because I hadn’t hit my growth spurt and went through puberty, I hit that late.”

However, Porterfield’s body chemistry setbacks didn’t deter him from sports completely. He decided to commit to baseball, because the body requirements to play were not as rigorous as basketball or football.

“I stuck with baseball, because it didn’t matter if you were big or not,” Porterfield said. “I kind of regret not sticking with football, because I ended up being a pretty big man, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, so I could’ve done something with that.”

Porterfield also did well in the classroom, sticking to a study skillset that got him decent grades in high school.

“I was a pretty good student, I’d say,” Porterfield said. “It was really how I applied myself and focused on schoolwork, and how I stuck to my work ethic.”

Everything was working out for Porterfield. His grades were where they needed to be, he had a close relationship to his family and his commitment to baseball proved to be unwavering. However, a boating accident during a holiday weekend in the summer after his freshman year of high school shattered what he knew to be his life.

“I was with my family, and I ended up getting into a bad boating accident,” Porterfield said. “My parents drove me to the fire station, and they put me in an ambulance. They knew I had a concussion because at that point I couldn’t stop throwing up.”

Porterfield was quickly transported to the hospital, but even the ride there was filled with turmoil, as the driver had to pull over more than once because Porterfield had to vomit.

“They strapped me to a stretcher when we got there, and the doctor got there with my parents standing over me, and they put me in a cat scan machine” Porterfield said. “Next thing I remember, my parents were asking about wanting to do surgery, a tube that would go into my skull to drain the blood that was clotting in my brain, but the doctor said he hadn’t done surgery on a child in over 10 years, so my parents didn’t want to do it.”

Porterfield was then transported by helicopter to Egleston, a children’s hospital, and was promptly put into the intensive care unit.

“During the plane ride, they told me to not fall asleep, because I could slip into a coma,” Porterfield said. “But I did end up falling asleep, for over an hour in the plane.”

Porterfield is not alone in his near fatal experience with boating. According to the American Boating Association, there were 701 boating accident related deaths in just 2016, not to mention the 2,903 injuries.

Recovery in the hospital was a slow process. Porterfield spent a total of eight days in the hospital, with continual night checks from the doctors to make sure he hadn’t unknowingly slipped into a coma. Porterfield spent three months at home for recovery upon being released from the hospital, and the transition back into school was not an easy one.

“I had to go back to school but I couldn’t do anything for around three weeks,” Porterfield said. “I had to just sleep on the desk and put noise cancelling headphones on, then I had to make up all my work a month later, which was really awful.”

Even though Porterfield still suffers from certain post-concussion symptoms, such as severe headaches that leave him bedridden and the occasional stutter, he realized that he had lived for a reason.

“When the doctors told me I should have died, I took that as a wake up call to realize what I had been doing with my life,” Porterfield said. “If I hadn’t had that life jacket on, I’d would’ve drowned.”

Porterfield gained a new lease on life and a restored faith in God after his accident. He decided to better apply himself in both life and baseball. Benjamin Thornburgh, a friend of Porterfield, recognizes these character traits in Porterfield.

“I didn’t expect to bond with him as much as I do,” Thornburgh said. “But because of some mutual friends, I’ve been able to, and he’s a very cool, humble and smart guy.”

After almost losing his life and being able to slowly overcome an excruciating recovery process, Porterfield lives on, thankful for every day he is able to rise out of bed and continue to dedicate his life to what he loves. His family and friends, God and baseball.

“I want to possibly inspire someone else with m story about coming back from something that I should’ve died from,” Porterfield said. “I’m still pursuing my dream, even though I’m sometimes fighting uphill, but I’m never giving up.”

 

Sources:

Carson Porterfield: wporterfield0511@lions.piedmont.edu

Ben Thornburgh: bthornburgh0421@lions.piedmont.edu

ABA Link: https://americanboating.org/boating_fatality.asp

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