By Spencer Jacobson, Staff Writer
Mark Potter, Newman’s former head basketball coach, will be celebrated for his contributions to the university at the last home game of the basketball season, on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Potter, the longest-tenured coach in the program’s history, coached 19 years for the university beginning in the 1998-99 season until his retirement in 2017.
Athletic Director Joanna Pryor said that the idea to celebrate the university’s past coaches came about as a result of a conference that she and Zane Ehling, the associate athletic director, attended together.
Pryor said that the athletic department chose to honor Potter because of the impression he left on the university during his time coaching here.
“We need to involve our coaches that are not here any longer but that made a huge impact on student-athletes that played for them. Mark was one of them,” Pryor said.
During his time as a coach, Potter led three teams to the NAIA tournament, one team to the NCAA tournament, and was named coach of the year by his conference three times.
Not only is Potter a former coach, but he is also an alumnus. Potter graduated from Newman in 1986, and during his time as a student, he stayed involved as both a basketball and baseball player.
Pryor said that the department also hopes to encourage more alumni involvement as a result of this event honoring Potter.
“We have great people out there but perhaps just are not being asked to be involved,” Pryor said.
Ehling said the department is trying to give alumni reasons to come back to campus and connect with their former teammates.
As a way to celebrate Potter and spark interest in the event, Ehling said, the first 50 alumni that sign up will receive a Mark Potter bobblehead at the game on Feb. 29.
There are only a few unclaimed bobble heads left, Ehling said, so he expects a good turnout.
Ehling said that Potter is someone who means a lot to Newman and should be honored for the mark he left on the university and more specifically his athletes.
“Some of Potter’s alums are engaged and do stuff for the university and that is obviously a reflection of the impact he had on the kids he coached,” Ehling said.
Pryor, who was at the university for part of Potter’s tenure, said that something he left with his student-athletes was the value of respect.
“He is one that when you treat a student-athlete with respect, they are going to do the same for you. I think that was a really rich part of what he taught as a coach. He really taught them how to become good young men,” Pryor said.
Mark Potter Bobble Head Night will start at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 29 in Fugate Gymnasium, which was named “Potter Family Court” in his honor.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics