Potter uses strength and conditioning to mold Thomas University’s athletes
Corey Potter may be only 29, but he’s already worked with some of the top athletes in nation. For the past year, he’s been a key member of the growing Athletics program at Thomas University, where he is TU’s first Strength and Conditioning Coach.
“My main focus is to help athletes get stronger, faster and more explosive,” Potter said. “Those three things can determine whether a game is lost or won.”
Some of TU’s athletes have no experience working with a Strength and Conditioning Coach until they arrive on campus. Potter works with athletes using a variety of sport-specific and Olympic lifts to help prepare their bodies for the physical demands of their specific sports.
It’s a curriculum that’s very familiar to him.
Growing up, Potter was always playing sports. As a high school basketball player, one of his team’s assistant coaches worked with him in the gym on strength and conditioning.
Potter attended Furman University in South Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science.
He later made the move to the University of Alabama, where for a year he worked in the weight room with Michelle Diltz, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. The experience included working with players in the sports of women’s basketball, softball, women’s golf, and track and field.
“What I learned as an undergrad was helpful, but training college athletes is a whole different world,” Potter said. “Coach Diltz was instrumental in my development as strength and conditioning coach. She taught me a whole lot.
After that experience, Potter decided to enroll at the University of Alabama as a graduate student. In 2010he graduated with a master’s degree in sports management.
During this time, Potter worked with Scott Cochran, the Head Strength Coach at the University of Alabama, and Master Strength Coach Terry Jones, Assistant Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Potter worked strictly with the Alabama football team, a team with several SEC championships and National Championships.
“Working with football players at Alabama was an amazing experience,” he said. “I was working with some of the best athletes in the nation.”
Some of those athletes included Mark Ingram, 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and now a running back for the New Orleans Saints. Others became players in the National Football League, including Trent Richardson, now a running back for the Cleveland Browns; Terrence Cody, now a nose tackle for the Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw, now a linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens; Dont’a Hightower, now a linebacker with the New England Patriots; Brandon Deaderick, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars; Greg McElroy, now a quarterback with the New York Jets; Dre Kirkpatrick, now a cornerback with the Cincinnati Bengals; and Mark Barron, now a safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The University of Alabama really gave me an incredible opportunity to work with elite athletes,” Potter said.
In January 2012, Potter branched out his network by accepting a full-time internships at the University of Maryland, where he worked with men’s soccer, wrestling, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, water polo, softball, lacrosse, competitive cheerleading, and field hockey.
“There were a wide variety of sports there,” he said. “At Maryland, I learned a completely different style of coaching than what I learned at Alabama. This helped me to create my own style as a strength coach.”
When Potter was approached by administrators from the TU Athletics Department, he was immediately interested.
“I couldn’t pass it up,” Potter said. “This was an opportunity to be able to start a new program that not only improves athletes’ sport specific skills and can also function as a recruiting tool.”
He interviewed before the building was completed. Potter saw only the floor plan.
“I had faith that it would work out,” he said. “It’s worked out well. I got to design my own weight room, and I chose equipment. A lot of coaches in strength and conditioning don’t have that opportunity. I want to create an environment in the weight room where athletes want to work.
When Potter needs advice about coaching, he knows where to turn. He just calls his dad or his brother. His dad is the head women’s golf coach at the University of Alabama, where he was honored as the National Coach of the Year in 2012, the same year his team won the NCAA National Championship. His brother is an assistant golf coach at Ohio State University.
Now Potter is continuing the family coaching tradition.
“There’s nothing that I’d rather be doing,” he said. “I think it’s awesome to go to work every day and help athletes realize their potential. I get to do what I love every day.”