- Associated Press - Saturday, November 15, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Things may not have panned out exactly the way Paul Potter wanted to this year at Community Christian School, but the longtime coach is retiring with no regrets.

Potter announced his decision this month to step down after 35 years of coaching, with the last nine of them coming at CCS, where he built the Royals into a private-school power before overseeing their transition into the OSSAA, or the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, this season, The Norman Transcript (https://bit.ly/1zKknVj ) reported.

Potter officially ends his career with a win, even if it’s not quite the way he wanted it. CCS was supposed to end its season with winless Wilson, but a last-minute forfeit left the Royals unable to find an opponent to wrap up the season.

“I was disappointed for the kids, but not for myself,” Potter said. “I knew before the season started this would be my last year but I didn’t want to tell anyone because I wanted it to be about the kids and not about me.”

Potter began at CCS in 2006 and quickly watched his teams develop into a power in the private-school OSSAA league they competed in. The Royals won the league championship three years running before deciding to move to the OSSAA. That required a two-year waiting period which ended last year and ended with the Royals being placed into Class A this season.

The year began with high hopes of competing for a district title, but a rash of injuries to an already-thin CCS squad ultimately derailed that goal even though the Royals finished with a 5-4 record.

“When the year started I thought this might be the best team I ever had here,” Potter said. “But we had four knee surgeries, an ACL injury and three broken hands this season. It’s been hard for the kids, but they were dedicated the entire time and worked so hard. I’m proud of what they accomplished this year.”

What’s next for Potter is a little bit of an open question. He didn’t rule out a return to coaching in the future, but for now it’s out of his immediate plans as he focuses full-time on a personal business as well as spending more time with his family.

“I still love coaching, and coming to school to practice is still my favorite part of the day,” Potter said. “But I was working seven days a week and it was just exhausting. My mother is 89 years old and I haven’t seen her since football season started. I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I decided it was time to take a step back for now.”

Whoever fills the position at CCS will enter a unique situation. The Christian school will hire a coach who can balance the desire to win with the ultimate goal of its football program: to help athletes develop into men through high school athletics.

As for Potter, he knows he can’t get away from it entirely. He expects to attend some games in the future, and he’s excited to watch the football program grow as it moves into a new realm of competition in the OSSAA.

“Telling the kids was the hardest part; I’m around them every day and you build up those relationships and you hate to leave,” Potter said. “But it’s not always a bad thing, and they still have a lot of great kids and plenty of talent in the program. They need someone younger who can come in and take over things and help them grow.

“I’m looking forward to seeing where they go.”


Information from: The Norman Transcript, https://www.normantranscript.com

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