OAK CREEK, Wisc. — Division III athletes in the NCAA usually don't get the recognition they deserve, but a UW-Oshkosh runner from Oak Creek is using the platform he has to make things better in his sport and life. Even if it helps one person or saves one life - the message is completely worth it.
Steven Potter stands out among so many non-scholarship athletes. He finished fourth as an All-American in the 800 outdoors.
"Division three has the largest membership of all the NCAA. Out of one, two and three," UW-Oshkosh Cross Country and Assistant Distance Coach Eamon McKenna says. "So most schools. Most student athletes. And again, we're not giving athletic scholarships. So we understand that differentiation a little bit. But it's still is a testament to if you're finishing top five in the country. I mean you're talking about beating tens of thousands of athletes."
Potter is a conference champion in the 800 and 1500 meters. But the Oak Creek native wants athletes struggling with mental health to ask for help.
"Sort of like Dak Prescott does in the NFL," Potter says. "Just showing everybody that they're not alone. If they are suffering, there's people to talk to and places to get help if you need it."
"Even in this setting with you to be able to talk about it a little bit," McKenna says. "But I was really happy with Steve and some of his teammates at the conference meet for wanting to use that miniature platform that they have of a cross country meet to kind of share that message."
"Reaching out to people was really hard," Potter says. "I found that I was stuck in that space where I didn't want to let people know. I just wanted to kind of act like everything was fine. But reaching out to people really did help."
For Potter and McKenna, Southeast Wisconsin natives, this means something.
"To be able to kind of live your passion while still in your home state, your old stomping grounds, so to speak is really a blessing," McKenna says. "I know we've talked in the past about, not just a plug for UW-Oshkosh., but for the WIAC right? It's one of the best conferences in the country, if not the best in division three."