LaVern Pottinger was born in 1946 and began his education in a one-room schoolhouse. He eventually graduated from Sparta High School in 1964 where he played football, basketball, and baseball. At Ripon College he played all three sports and was All-Conference in football and baseball.
After graduating from Ripon in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, Pottinger started his teaching and coaching career at Carmel High School for Boys in Mundelein, Illinois. There he coached 3 sports and also played semi-pro football with the Lake County Rifles of the Central States Football League. He received All-Conference honors twice. In 1971 he attended UW- River Falls, first as a graduate student then as an instructor. For 2 years he was the offensive coordinator for Mike Farley who had been his high school coach. During that time they installed the Wishbone Offense, which would become a trademark of Pottinger's teams.
After earning his Master of Science Degree in teaching, Pottinger assumed his first head football coaching position at Mauston High School in 1973. The next 4 years produced a record of 14-22 with the 1976 team going 7-2, the best record in 29 years. He then became the head coach at Belvidere High School in Illinois. His 20-year stint there produced an overall record of 146-68 including 8 conference titles, 11 play-off berths, one state runner-up, and 2 State Championships. The 1988 team set 3 National Federation offensive records, while the undefeated 1993 team was ranked 12th in the nation by USA Today.
From 1997-2006 Pottinger was the head football coach at Rice Lake High School. His teams posted a record of 72-30 while winning one conference title, 8 play-off berths, and a state runner-up in 2004.
During his career Pottinger was known as a “football program builder” and an “option offense innovator.” He was named Conference Coach of the Year 7 times, and coached in 4 All-Star games. He spoke at clinics throughout the U.S. about the Wishbone No-Huddle Offense, and worked at various football camps in the Midwest including camp coordinator at UW-River Falls for 25 years. He is a member of several football Hails of Fame including Sparta HS, Belvidere HS, Ripon College and the Illinois Football Coaches Association.