The Potawatomi Fire is a professional basketball team playing its inaugural season with The Basketball League (TBL). The Fire are owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma and our home-owned arena is the FireLake Arena whose reputation is bringing world class live entertainment and sporting activities to the Shawnee area.
The Potawatomi Fire is anxious to bring high energy exciting basketball to the heart of Oklahoma at the FireLake Arena.
The mission of the Potawatomi Fire is to provide the community with a first-class basketball experience that is affordable, entertaining, and showcases the talent of the best athletes the league has to offer, while simultaneously developing each player’s skill level. Off the court, the Potawatomi Fire will work with local youth to provide health, education, and career mentorship, building a positive impact with members of the community.
John “Rocky” Barrett, JR.
Chairman | Citizen Potawatomi Nation
- Princeton University
- University of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma City University, Bachelor of Science in Business
- St. Gregory’s University, Honorary Doctorate in Commercial Services
John A. Barrett, Jr. is a native of Shawnee, Oklahoma, and a graduate of Shawnee High School. His Potawatomi name is Keweoge, meaning “He leads them home.” Chairman Barrett has served as an elected official for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation since 1973 when he was first elected as Vice-Chairman. Tribal Chairman since 1985, Barrett is the eighth generation of his family to serve in elected office for his Tribe. Under his leadership, the Nation has gone from having assets totaling just $550 and less than three acres of land to an entity having an economic impact exceeding $550 million.
During Chairman Barrett’s administration, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has experienced more than 15 percent average annual growth for more than 20 consecutive years. With more than 2,500 employees, Citizen Potawatomi Nation is the largest employer in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. He serves as the Chief Executive of the Tribe, presiding over the 16-member Tribal Legislature that enacts the laws and ordinances under which it is governed. His elected position as Tribal Chairman also requires him to direct the tribe’s administrative functions and commercial activities. He was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s current constitution and statutes which have led to the Nation’s extended period of stability and progress.
He has guest lectured at Harvard University for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and as a guest lecturer at the Banff Center in Banff, Alberta, Canada to the assembled Canadian First Nations on the same topics. He serves on the International Advisory Council of the Native Nations Institute was founded by the Morris Udall Foundation at the University of Arizona and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. He served as a delegate of the United States Federally Recognized Tribes to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at The Hague, Switzerland, which provided the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People approved by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights and the United Nations General Assembly.
- Board Member – First National Bank & Trust Co
- Past Director – Omniplex Air and Space Museum/Kirkpatrick Center
- Chairman – Board of Rainbow Development Corporation
- Past Member – Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission
- Delegate – National Tribal Self Governance Advisory Committee
- Delegate – National Congress of American Indians
- Past Member – Pottawatomie County Historical Society
- Past Member – National Tribal Chairman’s Association
- Founder – National Indian Action Contractor Association
David J. Qualls
Potawatomi Fire General Manager David J. Qualls is a native of Tecumseh, Oklahoma. He has worked in the music, entertainment, and gaming industry for more than 30 years. Qualls brings a vast amount of creative abilities to FireLake Arena as its director, which blends well with the mission of the Potawatomi Fire program.
Additionally, Qualls privately owns various small businesses that work simultaneously with the gaming and entertainment industry. He also previously held elected positions as a city mayor, school board member, and trade association president.
As the current general manager for the Potawatomi Fire, Qualls and his experience serve as valuable off-the-court assets for the team and its team market owner, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Qualls is excited to bring the Potawatomi Fire to Shawnee and the surrounding Oklahoma communities to introduce The Basketball League as well as its talent and enthusiasm.
Potawatomie Fire Head Coach Derrick Rowland was born in Brookhaven, New York, and has been in the basketball industry for more than 40 years. As a retired American professional basketball player, he brings decades of knowledge and experience both on and off the court.
Rowland graduated from Potsdam State University where he won a National Championship in 1981. After college, he was selected by the Denver Nuggets in the 1981 NBA draft. Rowland then played for the Continental Basketball Association’s Albany Patroons for seven years. After retiring, Rowland returned to New York as the head coach of the Patroons. Several championships later, he made his way to Oklahoma as the head coach of the Potawatomi Fire, the first professional basketball team in the history of Shawnee.
Rowland looks forward to building a successful program in Pottawatomie County. He brings his passion for the game, his love of coaching a younger generation of players and a drive to win. Rowland’s approach to coaching is holistic. He believes in not only the physicality of the game but also the importance of remaining humble and grateful for all opportunities life offers.
Dr. Bradley Walck is a well-known Oklahoma basketball coach. Walck served as head coach of the Seminole State College Belles from 1991-1999. While there, the Belles won six Bi-State Conference championships and averaged 24 wins per season. Walck’s 1993 team ranked #1 in the National Junior College Athletic Association and finished the season as the nation’s third-ranked team in the final regular-season poll. His 1997 team won 26 games and earned an NJCAA National Tournament bid. Walck retired from Seminole State College in 2013, and the Seminole Board of Regents honored him as Vice President Emeritus.
Prior to coaching at Seminole, Walck coached basketball at Tecumseh High School for 12 years, the first five as assistant to legendary boys coach Roy Capps and then as boys head coach for seven seasons. He also served as the girls’ head coach for five years.
Walck said he is honored to join the Fire organization. “It is a unique opportunity to be a part of the first tribally-owned professional basketball team in America and it’s right here in my hometown.”
Taylor Williams, M.S., LAT, ATC
Medical Professional Director | Public Health Coordinator
Taylor is a proud local from Tecumseh, Oklahoma. She started her academic and athletic training journey at Seminole State College where she obtained her associate degree in health science while working with men’s basketball and volleyball. She continued her education at the University of Oklahoma.
While at the University of Oklahoma, Taylor worked as an athletic training student with track & field, tennis, and football. She graduated with her bachelor’s in exercise science with a minor in psychology in 2019. She finished her education at the University of Central Oklahoma and graduated with her master’s in athletic training in 2021. Taylor is a SSM Health Athletic Trainer that is contracted to the Potawatomi Fire.
Taylor’s favorite thing about athletic training is being able to be with an athlete from the initial injury to their return to court. She is dedicated to keeping Fire athletes safe and healthy. She’s excited to be part of this brand new basketball program build from the ground up minutes from her hometown.
Braden Edwards came to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation after graduating from Tecumseh High School. While there, he attended Gordon Cooper Technology Center, earning his digital media production certificate. Edward, already employed by CPN, joined the FireLake Arena in 2021 as an audio visual technician. Recently promoted to AV manager, he is quickly gaining speed in his profession.
Edward’s love of technology comes naturally. Primarily self-taught, he has enhanced his skills and developed a career. While attending GCTC, he was named the Digital Media Production Student of the Year. Edward hopes to continue improving his abilities and one day join the film industry.
In his capacity of AV manager, Edward works closely with the Potawatomi Fire to stream games and create social media content, including hype videos for the team and individual players. He sees this as a premier opportunity to strengthen his skills in Shawnee.