By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford High School Library was packed Friday afternoon with friends, family and area track coaches to witness Ciara Potter reach one of her major goals.
Potter obtained her achievement in a big way by inking her National Letter of Intent to join the track program of Southeast Missouri State – Division I.
“A set a goal to at least beat one record at the school and go to college for track,” she recalled, “I reached my biggest goals and keep improving.”
The High and Long jumps specialist drew the attention of college program across the United States with back-to-back medalist performance at the 2018 and 2019 Class 3A State Track meet in Murfreesboro. And earlier this year Potter won the State title for AAU Track as part of the EDA Flyers based out of Millington.
Coaches from the Flyers, Munford Middle and Munford High’s Bernard Ivie and Thomas Walters were on hand to share in the moment of Potter signing her NLI. Also nearby were family members grandmother Ida Smalls, big sister Deja Potter and parents Avis and Johnnie.
“She’s always been a good kid,” Johnnie said. “She’s always been centered.”
It was that foundation that paved Ciara’s path to a Division I scholarship in track. She walked onto the campus of Munford High School as the little sister of a proven basketball and track standout.
“My sister was my biggest motivation,” Ciara said. “She always dedicated herself to her sports. And she is my big sister, I just want to be better than her.”
Deja set the bar high for sister with school records in track and being a part of a winning basketball program.
“For her we never put the two of them as one,” Avis recalled. “We’ve always wanted them to be individuals. Deja has always been a good example for her sister, causing her to push hard. I know she wanted to find her individuality. I think that’s why she put those goals for herself. Although she loves her sister and admires her, she wanted to have own identity. She set her own goals to accomplish that.”
Coach Walters said from the beginning Ciara was ready to separate herself from big sister and the rest of her peers across the state.
“When she got here, she had a goal of what she wanted to do,” he recalled. “When you have a goal that early and that young, you’re willing to work for it, not much is going to be able to get in the way and stop you. This one she has been looking forward to every single day since she walked through the door as a freshman. It’s all the work that she’s put in over the time.”
Ivie said the dedication of Ciara has paid off with her going to a quality institution to compete for Head Coach Eric Crumpecker in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“That’s my university, my wife and I graduated from there,” Ivie noted. “And one of my daughters graduated from there. I am so proud of her. So now our goal is to bring her home a State championship. To make it on that podium in the state of Tennessee whether one or eight is an honor and accomplishment.
“I want her to stand in the top 3, if she could get one of those top 3 spots I will be really, really proud of her,” he added. “I am already proud of her because what a lot of people don’t realized if you qualify for two or three jumping events, they’re all going on at the same time.”
Ivie said if the events’ times were better divided for the benefit of the athletes, the students could post better numbers across the board.
Ivie’s athletes have been solid in Murfreesboro over the years with one State champion in Crystal Williams in 2010. The veteran coach said Potter has a shot to bring home the second winner this May.
Potter is Ivie’s 12th Division I signees in 20 years at Munford and joins the more than 30 he has at his previous high school in Missouri.
“A lot of dedication, a lot of practice to perfect what you do and stay humble during the entire process,” Potter noted as the keys to her success.
But most of the people gathered in the library including Munford High Principal Dr. Courtney Fee noted Ciara is an intelligent, artistic and caring young lady.
“She’s very compassionate, always has been since a child,” Avis said. “She’s always wanted to be a peacemaker. She’s looking for the best in everybody and always tries to keep some continuity of team. It’s never ‘I.’
“It’s about the team for her,” she added. “It’s always been about the other person. I think that why a lot of her teammates are here today and they value her. She’s had that from day one and we’ve tried to nourish that. It’s so good to see the fruits of her labor pay off.”
From her modest goals to her major achievements, Ciara has kept things in a proper prospective.
“She sets very high goals for herself,” Avis said. “We just try to tell her to set realistic goals. Our thought of a realistic goal has never been because she’s always reaching high. We don’t put perimeters on her. If you’re goal is to win State, we’re going to stand behind you and tell you to go for the gusto. ‘Go get it Baby.’ And even if she doesn’t achieve it, she manages to walk away with humility and thankfulness.”
Johnnie is thankful for his younger daughter’s success he was certain of once she put on the Munford Track uniform.
“I never had any doubt,” he said. “It’s the things behind the scenes she does that nobody sees that never gave me the doubt she would make it there.
“It’s the 4:30 a.m. wakeup calls,” Mr. Potter concluded. “The Saturdays and Sundays being sacrificed to workout with Coach Clear and the other athletes. I never had any doubt. My only challenge was could she remain focused. And she did. Once she should us that she had the focus, I had no worries.”