Feb. 14, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - Val Potter hits the ground running with every opportunity that comes his way. The former USU Men's Track Team athlete ran for Utah State University from 1981-1982, and he still continues running an active lifestyle which allows him to stay thoroughly involved with his family and in politics, his community, work, his church and even USU traditions and athletic events.
As the current Executive Director of Development for the College of Engineering at USU, Val and his wife Nancy are still Aggies in every sense of the word.
1. When you think of your time at Utah State University, who is the first person you think of?
I think of two people: Ralph Maughan, former Utah State head coach, and Val Christensen, former Vice President for Student Services. Ralph was my track coach, and he taught me some great life-lessons. We considered him a legend; he became a close friend of mine after my track years and remained a dear friend until he passed on. When I was Student Body Officer, I learned a lot about life from Val Christensen as well. Christensen lived an outstanding lifetime committed to contribution and volunteering. Working with both of these men set me up and prepared me for the challenges of life.
2. Since Utah State, what activities have you been involved in within your community or engaged in outside of your career?
I served as a North Logan City Councilman for four years, and the City Mayor for four years as well. I am currently on the Utah State Central Committee for the Republican Party and have been doing that for the last several years. I have also been a USU track officiator since I graduated. I officiate at every home track meet as the pole vault judge.
3. How did your experience at Utah State help prepare you for successes in your career?
I've been in sales and marketing, which is a very competitive environment. I have always been in a competitive line of work. The things I learned in track, like how to better yourself and that you need to beat the next guy, prepared me for competition in the job market. People that keep a competitive attitude are going to be most successful in life. In the end, it doesn't matter if you got an A or B in a class, but whether or not you are able to compete after college in the real world job market. You have to prove yourself.
4. On the road to success, failure is often a great teacher, is there a time when you failed at something professionally that has been a vital learning experience for you?
I've been through a layoff that caught me off guard a few years back. Actually, I guess I've been through a couple of them. It doesn't matter what you do sometimes, if management takes a wrong direction; you may be let go. I learned how important it is to be prepared. I make an effort to prepare myself financially for any situation. I've learned to stay ahead of the game and know what's going around me. Being laid-off can be a humiliating situation, especially when you have a young family. It's a hard thing to face your family, and you have to be willing to move and accept change. And while it can be degrading, you have to pick yourself up and move on. After my set backs, I just worked hard to prepare myself for the next career move and within a short period of time; we were settled. The most important thing I learned is that you have make a mental commitment to get back up when you get knocked down. If you don't have the right attitude, you stay down for the count. I think everyone needs to remember that nobody is immune from layoffs.
5. What is the most fun you have had in the last five years?
I would definitely have to say the cruise to the Mediterranean with my wife and friends. That was two years ago and it was an eight-day cruise. Before that we toured Rome and Venice. Another exciting thing we've done is had our first two grandchildren this last year, and that's pretty darn fun.
6. When was the last time you were on the USU campus, aside from work?
We've been season ticket holders for nearly 30 years. For the last 29 years, we have been avid Aggie fans from the same seats. We have been to football games on and off; we just really love USU Basketball. We still go to the homecoming activities, and try to stay heavily involved. Part of it is because we still live in Cache Valley, but it is also because we truly love and want to stay involved with USU.
7. What were your favorite places in or fondest memories of Logan?
I'd have to say the Field House was my favorite and most of my memories happened there. I really enjoyed indoor track practice there, and I spent a lot of time in there working out when I wasn't with the team practicing.
Val Potter mentioned during our interview that while he has kept in contact with many of his former athletes and friends from Utah State, there are many others he would still love to hear from. If you would like to stay in touch with Val, please feel free to e-mail him.
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