‘Expert’ even plays from hospital bed | TheUnion.com

‘Expert’ even plays from hospital bed

Anyone who spotted my score this week in The Union’s “Beat the Experts” football contest, knows full well the word “expert” placed under my mug is certainly up for debate.

After all, in a week where I mistakenly predicted the winner in six of nine games, why on earth would someone dial me up for my opinion on which team to pick?

Carol Poitz probably ponders that question from time to time, but for some reason it doesn’t stop the 67-year-old football fan from picking up the phone to pick my brain.

“What do you know about Laguna Creek?” Carol asked me this week, when I actually called her this time, to get to the bottom of her fascination with The Union’s football contest.

After filling her in on Laguna Creek’s 5-1 record heading into Friday’s matchup with Nevada Union, and the Cardinals’ 20-10 Delta Valley Conference win over powerhouse Elk Grove last week, she seemed satisfied enough to answer a few questions of my own.

Growing up in Nevada City, and graduating from NU in 1957, Carol says sports have always been in her blood. Her love for the competition was so strong that even a bum left leg couldn’t keep her off the basketball or tennis courts.

“It was just a porous, fibrous bone,” she said. “My mom said she didn’t drink much milk. She usually drank Coke. So, maybe that caused it.

“But I never let it become a handicap.”

And she never let it keep her from her love of the games, even recently when she left a voice mail message for The Union’s sports editor, seeking some input on the paper’s football contest.

Imagine my surprise when the number I dialed returning her call connected me to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. After confirming that I had the right number, I asked for Carol Poitz and was forwarded to another receptionist who told me the patient in question was sleeping at the moment Ð in the intensive care unit, no less.

Apparently, Carol had a close call due to a bout with cellulitis that she said stemmed from her leg being amputated in 1987 after a fall in her backyard.

“The cells under my skin were infected,” she said. “They told me I had septic blood poisoning from it. They said they almost lost me, because my blood pressure was down really low.

“I called the chaplain and she said the ‘Our Father’ with me.”

But after that scare, and a return trip to the hospital after the initial treatment, Carol said she hopes to be able to go home – for good – this week.

Though she attests to feeling much better now, the seriousness of her situation at the time still begs the question:

Why bother with a silly football contest from your hospital bed?

“Well, I just love to follow the football,” she said. “And even though I had an IV, it was in my left hand. So it was a good thing I write with my right hand.

“We’re just a football family. We’re just a family that has enjoyed the games and enjoys the selections in the contest.”

Each week Carol takes a roll of newsprint leftover from the press room at The Union, where she used to work in the circulation department before the insert bundles “became too heavy” for her, and creates a super-sized poster with the games of the week.

Then she lists the picks made by each member of her family. After 12 years, the Poitz family is still tries to Beat the Experts each week including her 33-year-old daughter, Adinda, her 25-year-old son, Olaf, and her husband, Otto, who will celebrate his 69th birthday Monday. She said the family has since expanded the weekly competition to include their gardener in the action Ð of course, for entertainment purposes only, she pointed out.

“My son – we call him ‘Oley’ – played football at Nevada Union for two years and he generally beats me. He sizes ’em up better than I do,” she said. “At the end of the year, last year, I’ll be doggone if Otto wasn’t the one who won the $200 prize (in a drawing among readers who “Beat the Experts” on at least one occasion).

“This last time, with me being in the hospital, I missed three or four.”

She says she enjoys football at every level, but is most consumed with the college game right now. She says her favorite team at the moment is the Florida Gators, despite the loss to Auburn last week.

“I just like this new Tim Tebow, their (true) freshman quarterback,” she said. “But I like (Gator quarterback Chris) Leak, too.

“And I really like the Seminoles, Bobby Bowden’s team, too.”

And, she said, more than anything else she just likes to talk football, something a stranger soon found out in the hospital bed next to her.

“We introduced ourselves,” she said, “and then I asked him ‘John, do you like football?’

“He said yes. It was just somebody down there that I didn’t know anything about, but we struck up a conversation and there it went.”


Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. His column is published Saturdays. Contact him via e-mail at brianh@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4240.

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