By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-From standout college basketball coach to stand up speaker, Garden City Community College is set to welcome inspirational orator Mark Potter to Conestoga Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m. to share his story about overcoming severe depression.
“Having Coach Potter and Nanette come to campus has been a priority of mine ever since I had the opportunity to hear his message last year at the NACDA National Convention,” Director of Athletics, Greg McVey said. “Given everything that is going on in the world these days, it is extremely important that we hear his story. It will be an impactful evening for our campus community.”
Potter, a member of the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame, coached in over 800 games spanning more than three decades at the college and high school levels. He restarted the men’s basketball team at his alma mater Newman University, which transitioned to NCAA Division-II before health issues pushed him into retirement in 2017.
“I missed eight games and 28 practices when my depression hit,” Potter recalled. “My world completely changed. At that point, my goal was to get the word out. I want people to know that I care. I was in a really dark place. That’s why I stress that everyone needs to take care of themselves.”
Potter’s own bout with severe depression is well documented. In 2004, he admitted to having dark thoughts, which correlated with a time of emotional unrest, even as his team was having success on the floor and as his marriage and children prospered.
“I remember driving and tears were rolling down my face,” Potter told the Fence Post back in 2019. “I told myself that I wasn’t going to tell my students or even my wife. But I’ve learned that you must go to the doctor and get it fixed.”
After battling what he calls the ‘Silent Epidemic,” Potter and his wife, Nanette started D2UP, a non-profit organization that shares his story to help those suffering with mental illness. He’s worked with several major organizations across the state and the country including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, Wichita State, and the Kansas Juvenile Officers Association. All of his speeches stress insightfulness, positive energy and mental toughness.
“There’s always been a stigma with mental health,” Potter explained. “We don’t want people to be afraid of that anymore. We want to shatter that stigma; that’s our ultimate goal.”
The event will be live streamed on the athletic department’s official website: www.gobroncbusters.com and on the BusterTV YouTube channel. For more information on Potter’s organization, visit www.d2up.org.