Ben Johnson Memorial Award
Born in Wisconsin in 1935, Mel Potter grew up in Arizona and graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he competed in intercollegiate rodeo as an all-around champion for four years. During the late 1950s and 1960s, he competed in roping events throughout the West, winning events at Calgary, Cheyenne, Denver, Phoenix, and Tucson, and qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
Though never a full-time rodeo contestant, Potter loved the sport and competed as a hobby. In 1964 he went into the stock-contracting business as Rodeos, Inc., supplying animals to venues in Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Des Moines. He also sent many rough stock animals to the National Finals Rodeo, including five NFR champion saddle and bareback broncs.
A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for more than 50 years, Potter also holds membership with the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association and the Senior Steer Ropers Association, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni, Rancheros Vistadores, the Rodeo Historical Society, and serves on the Board of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. He is the owner of the Mel Potter Ranch and Driftwood Horses, Ltd., Marana, Arizona, and Wis-Zona Cattle, Inc., Bancroft, Wisconsin. For his many contributions to rodeo sport over a half-century, Mel Potter was honored with the Ben Johnson Memorial Award in 2005.