- Alma School District
Work ethic spurs Alma’s Potts 7/28/22
Work ethic spurs Alma’s Potts
By Kevin Taylor
Joey Potts is the kid in eighth grade you couldn’t wait to see at school the next day. Funny, afable.
A decade-plus after setting roots in Alma, Potts is still that kid within a kid — only now he’s giving it to the same eighth graders as an adult.
“Joey Potts is always coaching where his feet are,” Alma coach Rusty Bush said. “He’s not necessarily worried about the next job or getting moved up, he just comes in every day and does his job. Those are the (coaches), when you’re a head football coach, that’s what you want.”
Potts is moving from the junior high ranks to the senior ranks because of his due diligence and work ethic. It’s a passion that started with late nights in the laundry room and helping to break down videos in the days before hudl.
Joey Potts is all in.
“They (Pottsville) didn’t have football from the 1930s until my senior year,” Potts said. “I played for Phil Collins my senior year, and Casey Mainard, he’s in Paris now. I fell in love with it; my mom worked at the school, so that was my second home.”
Collins told Potts to follow his coaching passion. He took his words to heart.
“I went back and helped them (Pottsville),” Potts said. “In 2008, Mikell passed away, and my other best friend, Kyle Shipp, asked me to come volunteer. He’s (Shipp) now the head coach at Tech.”
Potts was in the building from dawn to sunset. “I did everything from film the practices to film the games,” he said. “I washed a lot of laundry, too. During two-a-days, in the days before hudl, we had two black-and-white TVs, a VCR deck, and my cameras. They (coaches) would go to lunch and I would be in there making every one of the coaches a VHS tape of practice.”
Potts did that for a year, he said, before getting a call from former Alma assistant superintendent Mike McSpadden, Mikell’s dad.
“He said, ‘Joey, why don’t you come put in for Alma and come stay with us.’ I spent half my time with coach (Trey) Holloway, coach (Stan) Flenor, and then I was in coach (Eli) Drinkwitz’s health class part of the day.”
Potts volunteered for another two years before catching on for a year with Billy Elmore’s Stuttgart RiceBirds before returning to Alma. He never left.
“In August of 2003, my very first class was a health class, and a seat over from me was a big guy wearing a Notre Dame hat,” Potts said. “We kind of hit it off, and it was Mikell McSpadden.
“It all trickled down from there.”
Potts and McSpadden were friends at first sight.
“He was my best friend all the way through college,” Potts said. “I really struggled with passing math, and we made a pack that we weren’t going to graduate until the other one graduated … we were going to graduate at the same time.”
McSpadden didn’t help Potts with math but put him on the right path. “He suggested I take a twice-a-week class from 6-to-8 with a lot of non-traditional students,” Potts said. “They (ATU) wouldn’t let the teacher move on until all the kids understood it.”
A Pottsville native, Joey Potts was a smallish, skinny, hard-nosed football player for the once down-trodden Apaches’ program.
“They (Pottsville) didn’t have football from the 1930s until my senior year,” Potts said. “I played for Phil Collins my senior year, and Casey Mainard, he’s in Paris now. I fell in love with it; my mom worked at the school, so that was my second home.
“We weren’t very good, but we played hard.”
Collins, who passed away last summer, told Potts to follow his coaching passion. He took his words to heart.
“I went back and helped them (Pottsville),” Potts said. “In 2008, Mikell passed away, and my other best friend, Kyle Shipp, asked me to come volunteer.
“Joey was the Arkansas Tech ‘Super Fan’ — he was all in,” remembers Shipp, a Morrilton native who now serves as Tech’s head football coach.
“We became close friends,” Shipp continued. “I told him, ‘Why don’t you become a GA (graduate assistant)?’ He probably works harder than anybody. It’s hard not to love Joey Potts.”
This spring, Potts earned a promotion within the Airedales’ staff.
“Coach Potts is a prime example of what public school coaching is all about,” added Bush, the Airedales’ third-year head coach. “You (start out) a seventh-grade coach, then you’re a junior high assistant, a head ninth grade (coach) … and you get to prove yourself in the office and on the field — just becoming a better football coach.
“If you had to write in a book, that’s what you would do. You come in at a low end and let things fall where they may.
“It’s hard not to love Joey Potts,” Shipp said. “He is who he is because of his parents. You know he’s going to be the first one to work and the last to leave."