Dr. David Porter is the program lead for Exercise and Sport Science at BYU-Hawaii. His parents are originally from Provo, Utah, but he calls Laie home since he has lived her for 38 years. He has worked at BYUH since 1982 and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical education from BYU in Provo, as well as a doctorate from the University of Hawaii.
Porter has been named the National Coach of the Year eight times and has coached 11 NCAA and NAIA National Championship teams. He is also the president of the United States Professional Tennis Association, which is a 15,000-member organization. He teaches five courses in EXS at BYUH and is over the internship program for EXS students.
How did you initially get involved in the Exercise and Sport Science (EXS) program here at BYU–Hawaii?
“I was hired in the Fall of 1982 to come over as an assistant professor in the then department of physical education and also to be the assistant men’s basketball coach. So, I was brought over for both purposes, and I coached basketball for a couple of years; the first two seasons that the school had 20 wins.“[Then I said] I would start a tennis team.... So I stayed and helped coach volleyball that year. We finished second in the nation. Then I started a tennis team with no budget and no release time. They gave me $1,000 for the entire program, which was scholarships, equipment, travel, uniforms, anything. So that was the beginning in the 1984 to 1985 year with men’s tennis, then 10 years later, I was given the women’s program, too.”
How do you think participating in the EXS program prepares students for their future careers and lives?
“As far as their future careers go, I think that we are in a society now where health is a greater issue than it has been in the past because maybe we have the technology to extend life, and people want to extend their lives. . . So people are interested in finding out what has to do with nutrition, consistent exercise, meditation, and appropriate amounts of rest. [These are] all the things that are a part of the wellness concept that really is the foundation for our area [in EXS]. There’s a lot of job opportunities, and then there’s a lot of opportunities in our area in terms of management, health care facilities, gyms or clubs. There’s also the opportunity for people who want to go professionally and either become an occupational therapist, a physical therapist [or] a chiropractor.”
What do you hope your effect will be on the students you teach?
“I hope they’ll go out and teach the gospel to the people in their home countries as they are teaching them about the principles of wellness in their life and how that balances with our overall gospel plan. It’s more than just running a gym. I mean, that’s not the goal. The goal is to change people’s lives, and this is a great vehicle to do it.”
In what ways can students best still be involved in and support sports activities on campus and the EXS program?
“I think the first thing that students can do is they can participate. They need to have a conscious, consistent exercise program, and that can be through the various times that Seasider Sports has open gyms for people to come in and play volleyball, basketball, badminton and table tennis. It also means that those who like to compete and associate with friends in larger groups can participate in intramurals.”
What do you think the main benefit of being involved in sports helps people to improve, both in the game and out?
“I think in terms of the benefits, we’re put down here to receive a body, see if we’ll keep the commandments, and basically how to take care of the gift that we’ve been given, [which] I think is pretty important. So, I think the benefit of athletics, sports, exercise and participation is that we develop, understand, and take care of our bodies.“The one thing in common that over 85 percent of all female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies have is they played college sports. There’s a lot of lessons learned through athletics.”
How do you feel being involved in the lives of students as both a coach and a mentor?
“I think it’s been a constant reminder of how important it is to live the life that you’re teaching.... I feel like we’re providing an opportunity for our students to get information and gather experience that can help them in the field and to bless other people’s lives.“Ultimately, the purpose of them being here is to firm up their testimony of the Savior and be able to find something they enjoy doing and go out and do it in such a way they can provide for their families.”
Do you have any awareness causes special to you from being involved in sports and physical fitness?
“We are in a state, at least in this country, of devastating obesity, starting with childhood obesity. A lot of it has to do with the safety of our world and not just letting kids go out and play after school. They have to stay in the house or apartment to be safe. [Also] the fast-food and poor choices people make in eating.”