In the male-dominated world of college basketball officials, only one gray-haired grandmother with glasses sat right there at the scorer's table at the Winthrop Coliseum, mid-court, in what she called, "the best seat in the house."
Linda Poteat wore the black-and-white striped officials' jersey that fans call the "zebra" shirt, just like the referees who ran up and down the court calling fouls and getting booed by 18 years worth of Winthrop fans each time a call was a stinker.
But nobody ever booed Poteat, the official scorer in the zebra shirt. Nobody dared. She kept the official book. The points, the timeouts and fouls. Her book was law. Linda Poteat, Chief Justice of the Basketball Court.
On Friday Linda Poteat, who taught chemistry at Rock Hill High for decades while somehow finding the time to do the books for the high school teams' basketball games and at Winthrop, died at age 69.
"She loved basketball, had loved it her whole life, and she loved to be there for the big games," said her husband, Carl. "There weren't too many women doing what she did, if any in big-time college conferences. A couple of officials years ago mentioned to her that official scorer was not a woman's job. Well, Linda showed them a thing or two."
Poteat kept the book for all those Big South tournament finals, on national television when she would be on TV a hundred times, the smiling granny in the glasses, as the players raced by. The stars, Torrell Martin, so many others, would chat with her as they waited to check in after a rest. She was every player's grandmother.
She even kept the book on Nov. 27, when Winthrop won its most recent home game over Lander by the score of 65-46.
The star of that game, Andre Jones, had the following statistics: 29 minutes played, 8 for 11 shooting, 2 for 2 from the free throw line, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 20 points.
All that was official because Linda Poteat said so.
Poteat also was the official scorer at Rock Hill High and had just recently told principal Judy Mobley she would not do games this year to spend more time with her grandkids.
"Linda was an outstanding teacher who cared about all children every year until she retired," said Mobley. "She was caring. And our basketball teams? Oh, she kept those books perfectly."
For Linda Poteat, the scorebook was a sacred text.
It is Linda Poteat's scorebook that will show, forever, that Rock Hill High in March 2006 won its only state title in basketball with a score of 74-69.
The coach of that team, Bobby Stevens, knew Poteat first from years at Winthrop as a coach, then she was Stevens' chair in the science department at Rock Hill High. Poteat received a championship pendant from that 2006 Rock Hill High team and never took it off, ever.
"Linda Poteat was all things - a great teacher, a great scorekeeper, and a great friend," Stevens said. "She was giving and generous. She was, plainly, the best."
Winthrop does not play another home game until Dec. 12. The school will have to find an official scorer to sit in that front row, the best seat in the house, in that "zebra" shirt, and keep the official scorebook.
Jack Frost, Winthrop's assistant athletic director, put losing Linda Poteat this way: "We will have to have an official scorer, but there was only one Linda Poteat. Dependable and always right."
The only scorebook that matters now says, somewhere: "Linda Poteat, 1949-2010. Points scored - Zero. Hearts won - all."