For parts of five decades, the name John Potter was synonymous with high school football in this province. A decent football player in his own right, Potter’s St. John’s Technical High School team won the City Championship in 1939-40. He was a member of the University of Manitoba City Junior team in 1940-41 and the U of M Varsity team from 1945-47.
He was also a football official in the association during the 1950’s. But it was for his exemplary work as a coach and teacher of football that John Potter was best known. From 1951-65, he served as Head Coach while teaching at Daniel McIntyre High School. During his tenure at Daniel Mac, Potter’s teams appeared in the semi-finals 14 times, the finals 10 times and they captured 5 Championships. In 1982 he volunteered on the coaching staff of Elmwood High School and enjoyed 4 years there. In 1986 he volunteered on the coaching staff at River East with 10 years in the playoffs and 1 Championship.
Potter’s dedication and excellence did not go unnoticed. In 1982 he was named “Coach of the Fifties” decade at the 50th Anniversary of High School Football in Manitoba. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Football Association in 1971. Perhaps the most telling of his honours came from a testimonial given by his former players in 1970; they expressed their appreciation for his leadership and counselling, in addition to his coaching abilities.
An indication of John Potter’s longevity and excellence was the fact that he coached several different generations including two of his own. He coached his own son Gregory and, at River East, his grandson Gordon Buck who won the prestigious Harry Hood Award. River East coach Gord Puttaert, who played for Potter at Daniel Mac, summed it up, “He used football as a medium to teach kids about life and character.”
b. September 3, 1921
d. November 10, 1999