Local Sports: Clayton Pottinger reaching for new heights

There are times in anyone’s life when they make a decision that they hope benefits their career,.

Clayton Pottinger made such a decision when he accepted a head coaching position with the men’s basketball team at UBC Okanagan,

He didn’t leave RDC because of anything at the college rather in an effort to improve his chances of coaching at even a higher level.

“During my eight years at Red Deer College some situations popped up but I was in a good situation here and not in a hurry to leave,” he said. “But what did become clear to me was that if I wanted to work with the national team, or what not, I needed to get some USport coaching experience under my belt.

“When this opportunity came up it was a little different than some of the others as it was a program that needed building. After careful consideration I thought this might be the one,” he added.

“Also this new pro league started up, the CEBL , in Western Canada and if you look down the list they’re hiring USport coaches to be head coaches and GMs and I wasn’t able to get those opportunities unless I did some professional development.”

Clayton will be strictly a coach at UBCO, which will be a change.

“I love teaching so this will be a bit of a change as this will be the first time since 1994 I won’t be teaching. But basketball is teaching too, so I’ll focus more on (practice and game) plans and player development.”

Pottinger will be around until the end of June. He’s also not finished with the RDC Kings as he ran an ID camp last weekend and is doing everything in his power to leave the “shelves fully stocked” for his replacement.

“Right now that’s my focus and after the camp I feel we have that.”

Clayton felt it didn’t hurting his recruiting with the fact he’s moving on.

“It was a discussion point, but our players had a lot to do with the recruiting. We’re only graduating two guys and when the new players met and talked with and played against the returning guys it sold them on this program. They wanted to be at Red Deer College and it didn’t matter so much that I may not be here.”

Pottinger has talked with several recruits for the last couple of seasons and some of those wondered about following him to Kelowna.

“I joked with some of the guys that I’m offering two-for-one deals,” he said with a laugh. “There were some guys interested in UBCO but I didn’t make any offers only that they come here first.”

Pottinger will have his challenges at UBCO as they’re rebuilding.

“I was able to look at the current team and there’s definitely something to work with … some good attitudes and skill sets, but now I have to add to that.”

And recruiting will be a challenge.

“One thing I loved about RDC was that any player I talked to there was something academically for them. There you focus more on humanities and university programs.”

Clayton came to RDC after one year at Douglas College in New Westminster, and says it’s the smartest decision of his career.

“Best decision besides marrying my wife and having kids,” said the University of Alberta grad. “My dream was always to coach and out there I was teaching high school and coaching at night. After one year I felt that wasn’t going to work.

“I figured I would either have to find a new coaching position or hang it up. Fortunately I was able to apply here and it turned out to be beyond expectations.”

He came into one of the premier college athletic and academic programs in the country.

“It was a storied program and it felt like home quickly,” he said. “There were a lot of good people around me and they allowed me to try stuff, not only in coaching but recruiting and we were able to grow and get better.”

Pottinger finished second in the ACAC his first year and attended the first of three straight CCAA championships. The 2014 team may have been his best as they finished second in Canada, losing the final by one point thanks to a brilliant three-point display by Lloyd Strickland over the final minute.

“I believe that team was the bench mark for our league,” said Pottinger. “Since then everyone has stepped up to be able to win the league and go to the nationals.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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