Q&A: New Sooner coach pushes his athletes to graduate, former player says
New OU soccer coach Matt Potter came from a winning tradition at Washington State before coming to OU at the end of last year. The Daily's assistant sports editor Dillon Phillips spoke to two of Potter's former players — Kiersten Dallstream (2006-09) and Mallory Fox (2006-10) to see what makes the coach different.
The Daily: What is coach Potter like as a coach?
Dallstream: “He is the type of coach that focuses on team communication, leadership, and responsibilities. I had him as a coach for a total of 5 years but have known him for far longer, and he hasn’t changed as a coach. I think what is so appealing about him are his requirements of his players, which he makes very well known to everyone. He tells you exactly what he wants from each player from the beginning and never strays. It was so relieving to know without fail what your coach wanted from you, what they wanted you to improve on, and what their overall goal for the team was.”
Fox: “As a coach, Matt is a go-getter, his team could be playing against the U.S. National team and he would say what a great opportunity and try to provide as much knowledge and tools as he could so they could be as successful as possible. He is always willing to take things as a learning opportunity.”
The Daily: What makes him different/unique from any other coaches you've had?
Dallstream: “What makes him so unique is the way he cares for injured players. There have been many instances where I have played for a coach or know of a coach that lost interest in injured players and sometimes treat them as unimportant. However, coach Potter has always given these players multiple options and roles to keep them involved in the team, whether they are temporarily or permanently hurt. I very much admire his effort to do that.”
Fox: “He is different than any other coach I have had because he doesn’t favor players, he treats everyone with the same respect wether they start every game or barely see the field. He was unique because he believed in me and my abilities more than any coach I ever had. He believed in the potential of our team and was not going to let up until he felt he had given us every tool necessary to be successful.”
The Daily: Coach Potter preaches a "three-part philosophy" for coaching — soccer, academics and life. How does his philosophy tie those three aspects together, and how has that philosophy helped you as a player?
Dallstream: “Being a college athlete and student is not easy. The only people who know how hard it is are the ones that have done it. The stress from missing so much school, creating an academic schedule that meshes well with the soccer season, and constant training, travel, and homesickness is unlike any I’ve encountered before. What coach Potter provided for all of us was an easier route to success as a soccer player, student, and person. He provided endless support in his ‘three-part philosophy” whether it was direct help from him or a designated associate of the team (advisors, athletic trainers, nutritionists, etc). Personally, I don’t think I would have gotten through college without his help and persistence. He did his best to make all of us happy in soccer, school, and life. It was great to know that he understood how hard it was to succeed in those three things all at once. “
Fox: “He preaches that athletes are not only there to commit themselves to soccer and their teammates but along the journey to essentially be a more complete person with an emphasis on academics and learning life lessons along the way. His Philosophy has not only helped me grow as a player and a leader but as a woman. I learned a lot more than just formations and set pieces from my time at WSU and a lot had to do with Matt and how and how much he believed in me and the fundamentals of his program. A line that I hated hearing as a player but use it today that he would say was “choose your tude” we could fly across the country on a red eye and you better pretend like you are wide awake and ready for anything or he’s not going to be pleased.”
The Daily: What impact has coach Potter had on you, both personally and as a player?
Dallstream: “I endlessly owe coach Potter for my soccer career. He took a chance on me when he recruited me, and didn’t stop believing in me after a dismal freshman season. He was confident in my abilities when no one else was including myself. It took some time but eventually I settled into the team and its system. Then he gave me the opportunity to attend a youth national team camp, which was truly a dream come true. After getting my foot in the door, I eventually made the U-20 national team and went to the World Cup with them in Chile. Winning the World Cup was an incredible experience that I can never thank him for enough. I believe that the confidence I gained from that experience along with my best college soccer season my senior year, I was given the opportunity to play professionally. That as well was a dream of mine I don’t believe I could have attained without his guidance.”
Fox: “As a player, Matt provided me with many tools to be a successful D1 athlete, he helped me understand my role as a player and teammate more. Most importantly he gave me the opportunity as a player to be successful and challenge my abilities. Matt not only helped me become a better player but a better person. He teaches about leadership, goal setting, and many other important tools that have taught me how to be successful.”