Quentin Poteralski is the 17-year old starting quarterback for the Steinbrenner High School Warriors. With 583 yards on 44-90 completions, 3 touchdown passes, and 120 yards on 38 rushes during the regular season through September 12, Quentin can’t believe that only a couple years ago, he was told there was a possibility he’d never play football again because of the onset of a rare condition, Guillain–Barré syndrome.
Rejecting the diagnoses of doctors and pushing onto the gridiron, he has established a new definition of “determination,” a credo he displayed to get where he is, and an outlook he displays when the opposing line decides to try a blitz.
“We ask a lot of him and he is just a whole package. He’s got the mental aspect of the game, he understands what we are trying to do, and he is getting us to a place where we want to be. It’s been traditional for us to have a pocket passer. But with Quentin, it’s fun to see him extend those plays and make those plays that might usually be sacks become the best he can make them,” said Steinbrenner Head Coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo.
Quentin began feeling the effects of the uncommon syndrome at 9 years old,
the rare syndrome usually lasts one to two months battling the effects and recovering, according to Dr. Jon Abramson, a specialist in pediatrics infectious diseases at Wake Forest University Medical School. But for Quentin, this was not the case as he battled through a one and a half year ordeal just fighting the syndrome’s destructive side effects and then recovering through his ninth- grade year.
Guillain–Barré is called a syndrome and not a disease because there is no known cause to it. Whatever the reason ,in Quentin’s case, his anti-bodies attacked his peripheral nervous system, which is how the syndrome takes its toll.
Having no idea how serious the issue was when Quentin first started complaining of leg pains, his mother, Lisa Poteralski, received a call from Quentin’s school saying he had fallen.
“When we walked in, I was carrying my one year old in one hand and carrying Quentin in the other,” recalls Ms. Poteralski in an email, “We must have been a sight because the office staff was weeping, looking at us. Dr. Hoyos immediately identified the problem as Guillain-Barré syndrome, something I had only touched on in nursing school.”
He was then placed in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa for ten days, eight of which were in the intensive care unit. Throughout the stay, which included lung function tests and spinal taps, all Ms. Poteralski could say was “to watch your kid deteriorate so quickly was heart wrenching. Watching your kiddo ask for help and not be able to do anything. It’s almost unbearable.”
The hardest part of the whole experience for Quentin was moving on. He had already missed many months of school. And, walking onto a field and throwing a touchdown pass was lot easier said than done.
“It was crazy. One week I was playing football and another I am paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t move my legs and I had to learn again how to walk from scratch,” said Polteralski.
When asked by the rehab instructor what his goals were, all Quentin said was “I don’t just want to walk again; I want to play football again”.
Over the course of the 2014-2015 season, Quentin has started in four games, one a preseason game against Sunlake, and another game against Plant City, which was called at the half due to lightning. As a result, that game will be “recorded”: as having not been played, but the stats in that game are included in his overall stats.
“He has had to work double hard and has had many setbacks along the way,” his mother said, “But he never lost focus of what he wanted and the strength and determination he has shown, amazes me! He never let the [doctors’] comments or the challenges get in his way.”
And because of that determination, Quentin and his team were able to come from behind against Spoto and take home his first regular season win, 21-14.
“I was able to get through it because my mom never left the hospital room and my dad took off work a lot to be with me,” said Quentin, “They were behind me every step of the way. It goes to show that you can’t take anything for granted. You have to just have fun and enjoy life”.
Evan Abramson / Online Sports Editor