Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé may be rivals on the court, but Juneau residents look out for each other no matter what colors they were.
In this case, when Whitman College was looking to sign a point guard, TMHS girls coach Andy Lee pointed them in a direction that some might find surprising — JDHS player Kiana Potter.
“It’s funny that he’s part of the rival school. But he’s been great,” Potter said in a phone interview. “He had this connection to Whitman, and they reached out looking for a guard and he recommended me.”
Potter signed her letter of intent to play for Whitman on Thursday and will be playing basketball for them beginning next season.
“I’m pretty excited. I’m honestly just pumped to keep playing basketball,” Potter said. “Obviously the way my senior season ended was not how I wanted to end my basketball career so I’m pumped to keep playing.”
Her father, JDHS girls basketball coach Steve Potter, said he was excited that she’d been able to sign with a team even with the disruption of the pandemic.
“To a certain extent it’s a relief. She’s been working towards it for a long time. The whole COVID stuff kinda threw her plans out the window,” Steve Potter said in a phone interview. “She planned on traveling with an (Amateur Athletic Union) team. There was an Anchorage team that had picked her up. She was hoping to get seen.”
Lee said he was happy to point Whitman in her direction.
“It was an easy thing to do. All kids are kids. If you’re coaching, you’re in effect, part of a basketball community, and in Juneau, I worked with her mom and played sports with her dad,” Lee said in a phone interview. “It goes beyond personal. She’s a basketball player. She earned everything she got. I think her best basketball is ahead of her. I think she hasn’t reached the potential of her skills, and I think the best place to realize that is at a school with high academic standards.”
Supporting Juneau’s young men and women to achieve their dreams transcends team colors, Lee said.
“I think if i can help someone, you go all in. It was an easy thing to do. This wasn’t it about it being a rival coach’s daughter. It’s a Juneau kid. I knew her attitude and aptitude and skills would speak for themselves,” Lee said. “I’m really proud for any small part I played. I plan to be in the bleachers when she plays a college game someday. I’m real proud of her.”
Kiana Potter credits her parents, both of whom were involved in coaching her over the years, as her inspiration.
“They were pretty excited. My mom played in college and my dad was my coach all through high school. They’ve been so supportive of my basketball career,” Kiana Potter said. “Her playing has always been a really big inspiration for me playing basketball. Since a super young age, I was like, I’m gonna do that.”
While she’ll miss things about Juneau, Kiana Potter said, she’s ready to get down to school in Walla Walla come autumn.
“It’s about the size of Juneau and it’s a lot sunnier, so that’s nice. It’s different because it’s not by the ocean and surrounded by mountains like Juneau, which I love. It’ll be an adjustment but I’m looking forward to it,” Kiana said. “I’m looking forward to getting out of Juneau and starting the next chapter of my life. Basketball is the most exciting part of it.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.