Every school, town, or city has but only a few “once in a lifetime” coaches, and that’s what LaVern Pottinger is to Rice Lake and the Rice Lake Warriors football program. Vern coached the Warriors for nine seasons, from 1997 through 2005. At Rice Lake, Pottinger led the Warriors to a 72-30 overall mark, including playoff appearances in all but his first season. Rice Lake won one Big Rivers title, three second places and three third places while going 43 and 19 in the Big Rivers and 13 and 8 in the play-offs in 8 straight winning seasons, and was Division 3 state runner-up in 2004. Pottinger believes a winning program has as much to do about building character as it does with sound football. After 11 sub-bar seasons for the Warrior football teams, Pottinger changed the mind-set of the football program. He completely revamped the weight-lifting program, instilled confidence and developed a winning attitude in the football players and the entire community. Vern was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball at Sparta High School, graduating in 1964. He was selected to the All-State Football Team as a quarterback in 1963 and during his senior basketball season, the Spartans lost to Eau Claire Memorial in the sectional finals of the one-class state playoffs. Pottinger went on to star in three sports at Ripon College. He earned All-Midwest Conference honors as a defensive back his junior and senior years. His first job was teaching math and coaching football, basketball and baseball at Carmel High School in Mundelein, Illinois from 1968 to 1971. After two years as offensive coordinator at UW-River Falls, where he was studying for a master’s degree, Pottinger’s first head coaching job was at Mauston High School from 1973-77. Pottinger returned to Illinois in 1977 to take over a faltering program at Belvidere High School. By the time he left 20 years later, Belvidere had posted a 146-68 record, including 11 playoff appearances, 8 conference championships, 2 state championships (1993-94) and one state runner-up (1988). After 38 years of coaching, Pottinger’s football coaching career record is 232-119 for a .660 winning percentage. Vern is currently in the Sparta Sports Hall of Fame, the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2007), and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2012). He and his wife Judy reside in Rice Lake.