Life is still good for local Beaver, Duck fans

Oregon State football fan Jim Botsford showed magnificent generosity on Monday.

Of course, his gentlemanly gesture was toward a fellow Beaver supporter. But at a lunch celebrating the upcoming Civil War, his act of kindness was perfect.

Botsford, wearing an arresting orange polo, won a glossy football signed by OSU head coach Mike Riley in a raffle before handing it off to 92-year-old Betty Root, whom he called "the biggest Beaver fan in the valley."

The honorable scene came amid a meeting of friendly rivals: Botsford, Root and a large roomful of others were attending a lunch at Rogue Valley Country Club that serves as a build-up for Friday's contest between Oregon and Oregon State.

The 117th meeting between the two teams is set for 4 p.m. at Autzen Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and can be heard on the radio at KCMX (880-AM) and WOLF (105.1-FM).

The Civil War lunch ceremony included fine foods, the singing of fight songs, raffling, some trivia and a short, live video conference with Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens.

At each table of friends and family were countless stories of special Civil War memories.

Just talk to the Zerkels.

Beth Zerkel is the president of the Oregon Club of Southern Oregon. On Monday, she bounced around between the registration table and the conference room, collecting money and chatting with guests.

She and her husband, Steve, moved here from Ohio about 26 years ago. The pair of Buckeyes craved football (Steve was an athletic trainer at Ohio State) so, with the encouragement of friends, they purchased Oregon season tickets. The stadium was half full back then, she said.

The stadium began to fill and they grew deeper and deeper in love with the Ducks.

Beth, Steve and their family have gone to most all the home games since, as well as many of the bowl games. For their 30th anniversary, the two watched Oregon play LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Their three grown daughters — Kristin, Katie, and Kim — are wild about the Ducks. Their grandmother, Virginia, is, too.

Katie, a 27-year-old attorney, was 4 when she first saw Oregon play. She grew up and went to Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., where she proudly showed off a Ducks flag in the window of her dorm room. At Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., (where she earned her law degree), she would stay up in bed to watch Oregon play from 10 p.m. until early the next morning.

And if she didn't have a TV, she would sit in her car and listen to the action on satellite radio for 31/2 hours.

"Duck football is the one thing in my family that everybody loves to do," Katie says. "Even if we don't get along or see eye to eye on something, Saturdays are football."

Even when Saturdays aren't pretty ... like last Saturday. The Ducks (9-2), who are coming off a 42-16 loss to Arizona, went from dreams of the BCS title game to half-hearted hopes of the Rose Bowl to the realization that they've missed those marks completely.

On video from his office in Eugene, Mullens said: "Talking about bowl games prematurely is not a good strategy."

Meanwhile, the sputtering Beavers (6-5) were routed by Washington, 69-27, on Saturday.

The mother of three children, Root put Oregon and Oregon State's miserable weekend in perspective.

"I am sorry for the teams, but I personally don't think football is the most important thing of college," said Root, who graduated from OSU with a degree in secretarial science. "I think education is. So I can't weep about that."

Root grew up in Medford and has been an OSU fan "all my life." She has watched the game change — "the uniforms were so much different years ago and the game was much slower than it is now," she notes — and she's enjoyed events like Monday's.

The best moment may have been the last, when Botsford drew his own raffle ticket as he helped stage the ceremony.

He paused a moment before announcing he would give his prize — that beautiful signed football — to the biggest Beaver fan in the valley.

"I was very surprised," Root said. "I will have to put it up on a shelf."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email Find him online at or

Share This Story