I’m going to let you in on a little secret..
the four main anchors at KETV are Harry Potter nerds.
Ok.. I’m probably the only NERD of the group. But both Bill and Andy know the stories after years of reading with their children, Rob is making his way through the JK Rowling stories right now.. and I’ve read them more times than I can count. I LOVE escaping into Rowling’s incredible world of magic, mayhem and muggles. Rowling lays out a scenario in the first book, symbolizing so much of what readers see in their hero throughout the series: Harry, the youngest seeker in a century, snags the coveted Golden Snitch in the opening Quidditch match of the season, winning the game for his team.
Stick with me, folks! I’m heading somewhere with this!! Meet Nebraska’s Potter, who also made quite the name for himself as a young man on the field at Memorial Stadium.
#98 Zach Potter, Defensive End 2005-2008 (Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics)
“Growing up in Nebraska, it helps you understand it, but at the same time, until you actually experience it, you walk out on that field and see 90,000 people every Saturday; it’s pretty special,” Potter recently told KETV photojournalist Tyler White. “The further you get from it, the further you are from playing, it’s that much more special to look back on those memories.”
Potter’s football memories have local roots; he is a Hall of Fame Creighton Prep graduate (inducted in 2014), where he where he helped the Junior Jays win a state football title, and vie for a state basketball title. The Lincoln Journal Star named Potter the co-Boys High School Athlete of the Year, and B’Nai B’rith’s Bert Rend Award as the state’s top male athlete.
Still, even the best of high school players don’t often make a name for themselves as true freshman in division one sports. Potter did.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics
2005, Zach Potter played in all 12 games, arguably saving two of those games for the Huskers. Against Pittsburgh, Potter blocked an attempted filed goal and secured Nebraska’s 7-6 victory. Less than two months later, Potter blocked a Kansas State PAT, and Nebraska won 27-25. Potter grabbed the Golden Snitch for the Huskers, twice, in his first season on the field.
“My favorite playing memory,” said Potter. “Pretty fun to do, pretty exciting, big moments of the game.”
CLICK HERE to watch KETV’s Throwback Thursday feature on #98 Zach Potter! http://m.ketv.com/huskers/tbt-zach-potter/36144822
It was the start of an exciting four years for Potter, who also volunteered his time at local schools and facilities focused on kids, and excelled in the classroom. Potter was an Academic All-American and on the Honor Roll all four years.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics
After graduation, he did what many athletes dream of, joining the National Football League in 2009.
“I enjoyed a nice 6-year career in the NFL, playing tight end for the Jets, the Jaguars, the Rams and the Texans,” said Potter.
Photo courtesy zimbio.com
And now, Potter has come full circle returning to where it all started, working as an Audio/Visual Integrator with CCS Presentation Systems in Omaha, Nebraska. Big Red Recipes recently reached out to Potter, asking him to contribute a favorite recipe for their cookbook collection from former Huskers. Each player that takes part gets to choose which charity will benefit. Just as he did in college, Potter once again thought of children he could help.
“My Dad’s been involved a lot [with the Ronald McDonald House], so I’ve taken part in some of the golf tournaments, kind of involved secondhand,” said Potter. “This was really my first chance to get into it and do it myself. It’s a great charity. They give back to many families who have children who need help here and gives a spot for their families to come to, to relax after a long day at the hospital.”
Thursday, October 15th, Zach Potter revealed another talent; cooking. Potter and a few assistants (including his beautiful wife and little girl!) made sweet potato casserole, meat balls, and bruschetta for the out-of-town families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, while their children receive medical treatment here in Omaha.
“Hopefully the guests here will enjoy it, and hopefully we don’t mess it up too much!” joked Potter. (Editor’s note: I didn’t get to try the feast.. but boy, it looked FANTASTIC.) “Myself, being here in Omaha, I wanted to be part of this and give back to a great fan base that obviously supported me through four years down in Lincoln.”
A quick history lesson.. not all of Potter’s years at Nebraska were ‘fun’. As I heard from his quarterback, Joe Ganz, these were also the seasons that saw an outcry from Husker nation after some rough losses and the firing of Head Coach Bill Callahan. Social media was also coming into play, allowing hundreds, if not thousands of fans, to connect directly with the players.
“I think the biggest thing now about social media is you get to see how crazy the fans are about Nebraska football,” said Potter. “You’ve got X number of followers on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. You post one thing and people are just going nuts, asking questions, whether it’s good or bad. Advice for the players would be to not pay attention to the media. Put your head down, work hard. The results are going to come if you work hard.”
Potter told us despite the team not being where anyone wants them to be right now, he think Coach Riley and his staff will do a great job. He’s watching his former team, and hoping for the best.
You face hard times, you press on and you eventually come out of it. You look back on an adventure in your life, and the good stands out, not the bad.
“My favorite memory is still always going to be the friendships I created with the guys down there,” said Potter. “Obviously, we always wanted to win every, single game, but looking back now it’s those friendships you still have today you created back then.”
To end this, I’ll do what I do and tie it all together. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore tells Harry “it is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Here’s a guy who had the physical makeup, had a gift for the game, and had opportunity. Zach Potter worked hard on and off the field, delivered under pressure, and even today, is trying to give back to the community who helped shape him. He’s also beginning a new phase of life as a daddy, welcoming his second child and first son the day our story aired on KETV.
Who knows.. we could be looking at another legendary Potter. Baby Beckett weighed in at 9 pounds, 9 ounces. No sign of any lightning bolts on his forehead, but word is, his black shirt is already on standby.
Photo courtesy zimbio.com
NEXT WEEK.. Class of 2003, Curt Tomasevicz!