Over a half a century ago, Colorado’s gain was Oklahoma’s loss when a young man Frank Potts, just out of college, became head track coach at the University of Colorado.
A fine athlete who was an All-Conference fullback and a national collegiate pole vault champion at the University of Oklahoma, Potts set some fantastic records as a coach in the intervening years in Colorado.
He has long been recognized as one of the most knowledgeable men in track and field circles the world over, and it was only fitting that on his final coaching assignment, he experienced one of his proudest moments.
As an assistant coach for the U.S. Team in the Olympic games in Mexico City in 1968, he saw one of his former stars, Bill Toomey, win the gold medal in the decathlon. And Toomey bore out a Potts prediction by setting the world record for the event.
During Potts’ forty-one year tenure at CU, he served as assistant athletic director and took on the added duties of head football coach for three seasons, one in an interim capacity and two during World War II while Jim Yeager was in the Armed Forces. Potts’ three football teams won sixteen, lost eight and tied one.
He developed many track stars at CU, nineteen of whom were accorded All-American honors. His team won ten Rocky Mountain Conference team crowns before CU moved into the Big Eight in 1948 where Potts continued to produce athletes of championship caliber.
One of his brightest stars, Don Meyers, one-time world indoor record holder in the vault, who replaced his former coach at the CU track and field helm, stated: “Coach Potts has been a great influence in my life. I have tried to pattern myself after him. He was a great coach—and he’s one of the finest persons I have ever known.”
Potts has held numerous important posts in AAU and college track, serving on U.S. and Olympic committees and coaching teams in international competition. He was instrumental in bringing two National AAU meets to Boulder in the 1950’s.
He served as head coach of the U.S. team that defeated Russia in the first international dual meet in this country in 1959; was assistant coach in 1965 when the U.S. team dueled Russia in Kiev; and served as manager-coach on three other teams in international competition.
Potts’ contributions to state high school track have also been important. He served as Director of Meets held on the CU track including the Colorado Relays and the CU Indoor Invitational, which he originated decades ago.
In 1970, Potts was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Looking back on his career, Potts comments “the rewards have been many—in sharing the successes of athletes both on and off the field and in the association with the many wonderful people involved in sports.”
He has long been recognized as one of the most knowledgeable men in track and field.