Porter and Tanner: Teammates for life

Redshirt freshman Audrey Tanner (left) and sophomore Paige Porter toss a ball around before practice Sept. 16. The duo came to UNA after successful high school careers at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

From youth league championships, to a state championship and then a Gulf South Conference championship, Paige Porter and Audrey Tanner have been through a lot together.

Porter and Tanner are in their second year with the UNA soccer team and have been friends since second grade. The two made their way to UNA from Kennesaw, Georgia, where they won the 2014 State Championship in Georgia’s highest classification.

Both attended a soccer camp at Ole Miss, where former UNA assistant coach Chris McBride discovered the two. At that moment, Porter said she knew they were coming to Florence together.

“We kind of knew we wanted to (go together), but it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we have to go to the same school,’” Porter said. “Then when we met Coach McBride at the Ole Miss camp, we were like ‘We’re going to go to the same school now.’ Our parents were pretty happy about it.”

After coming in together, UNA head coach Chris Walker expected both to play as freshmen, he said. While Porter instantly hit the starting lineup in 2015 as a midfielder, Tanner tore her ACL and had to redshirt.

“It was pretty tough, but I still got to travel with the team,” Tanner said. “It was hard at first, but I got through it. I got used to it.”

Upon coming to UNA, the 13-year friends expected to be roommates, but Walker said he had other plans.

“I separated them when they came in as roommates freshman year so they could get to know other people,” Walker said. “It has worked out really well. They pulled Kylie (Huey) into their little group, and they live together now.”

Walker said he has seen the bond between the two players and their families, and it is not an average friendship.

“Both come from good families with great parents that are really supportive,” he said. “You can go to the same high school and be friends, but these two are best friends.”

Tanner said the longest she has been away from Porter is two months, which happened this past summer.

“We are basically like family,” Tanner said. “She went away for the whole summer for the (Campus Outreach) Summer Beach Project, and I was here in Florence doing rehab for my hip. That was the longest we ever went without seeing each other.”

Porter has one career goal on 11 shots and one assist. Tanner scored her first career goal Sept. 21 against UAH in a 2-1 win.

The two have not had many interactions in an actual game, but the idea of an assist/goal combo is not a far-fetched notion, Porter said.

“Sometimes I will be like, ‘Did you see that play in practice where I passed you the ball and you scored?,” she said. “Then I’ll say, ‘How cool would it be for us to do that in a game?’”

Tanner is a nursing major, while Porter hopes to get into medical school to become a radiologist.

With each sharing a similar goal after college, Tanner said the possibility of working alongside Porter is fitting. 

“It is kind of cool to think I could be her nurse one day,” Tanner said.