SANGERVILLE — The San Francisco Giants’ World Series title win earlier this month over the Texas Rangers was “quite a ride” for a former Sangerville man.
As strength and conditioning coach for the Giants, Ben Potenziano, 45, now of Chandler, Ariz., said the win was a dream come true for him and his team.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling that you won the World Series knowing that you did it and you did it with a bunch of guys that all care about one another,” Potenziano said in a telephone interview this week.
Sports has always played a role in Potenziano’s life. At one point, the Piscataquis Community High School and University of Maine-Farmington graduate had his sights set on becoming a professional baseball player.
Although he struggled both in school and in sports, Potenziano said he never gave up and always strived to give his best.
“There were kids better than me (in sports), but I always felt I had to just work harder,” he said. “I knew I could play, I knew I had the heart to play, but I always had to build on it and try to make myself better any way I could.”
That trait of hard work and determination was instilled in him by the adults — his parents, teachers and his employers — in his hometown, according to Potenziano.
“I got so much from growing up in that small community,” he said.
He learned that if he “worked hard, communicated well, was good to people, that good things would happen,” and they have, he said.
After high school, Potenziano joined the Maine Air National Guard, which helped pay for his education at the university where he contemplated a future as either a nurse or a teacher. Those careers were soon eliminated when he was introduced to sports medicine and athletic training, subjects that hooked him.
“It was a good fit for me because I was allowed to be around athletes and you can have so much fun with them,” Potenziano said.
After an internship at the University of Maine in Orono, which later turned into a two-year graduate assistantship, Potenziano was hired by the Giants as athletic trainer for the short-season, rookie-ball level.
Potenziano said his wife Erika, who moved with him to Arizona for the spring training season, has always been extremely supportive of his career, even when he was assigned to a minor league team in Washington state in 1995.
From there, Potenziano’s rise with the Giants came rather quickly. In 1996, he was promoted to high Single-A baseball based in San Jose, Calif., and in 1997 was promoted to Double-A baseball in Shreveport, La.
He loved his job, but when the first of his two children was on the way, Potenziano reconsidered his career. He said he was unwilling to leave his wife behind with such a responsibility and left baseball for what he considered more of a “normal life.” The couple returned to Maine where Potenziano went back to UMaine to work in the health center. A couple of years later, he left the university and took a job in sales.
His return to baseball came in 2003, a year after the Giants lost the World Series, Potenziano said. He said a team representative called and told him the Giants were looking for a minor league rehab coordinator and asked if he was interested. With his wife’s support, Potenziano said he applied, was hired and the family moved once again to Arizona.
A year later, he was promoted to strength and conditioning coach in the major leagues, where he has remained.
Walking away from something that he loved, and then getting a second chance to jump back in, made Potenziano determined to work even harder, he said. Just as his hard work, perservance and determination to succeed in life has paid off, so have his team’s efforts, according to Potenziano.
“Do what you love and love what you do, and just go after it, don’t give up and don’t take no for an answer,” Potenziano said. “People may tell you that you’re not good enough to do what you think you can do and yeah, you might not be able to, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know.”