Laker graduate is part of the nations No.1 program
- Cliff Newell
- Lake Oswego Review - Sports
When it comes to student trainers, Elizabeth Lieberman is number one. Just like the USC football team.
To be the nation's top-ranked college football team you can't only have shark-like linebackers, mountainous lineman, golden-armed quarterbacks and breakaway running backs (which the Trojans do possess in great abundance).
You need people like this young lady from Lake Oswego. Someone to tape ankles, ice knees, set up equipment, pass out water, be ready to stand for hours in the sun; just be there whenever needed.
Lieberman possesses these qualities to a high degree, and that is why last spring she was named head student trainer.
'It is cool being part of the SC football team,' Lieberman admits. 'The players are nice guys, the coaches are nice guys. And I'm part of the team, too.'
Each weekday Lieberman's responsibilities including taping ankles and wrists, helping with stretching, providing hot pads, and setting up the field for practice by setting out water carriers and hauling out trunks full of Tylenol and Ace Bandages. She also oversees the other 19 student trainers, and 'I follow the offensive line from place to place.'
Then she cleans up the field, ices up the players, and attends the doctors clinic every afternoon.
On game day, including the recent Trojan triumph over Ohio State, she takes a permanent position behind offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian; ever ready with water, to wrap up cuts, provide splints for broken bones, and also set to go into action in case any spinal injuries occur.
Explaining her rise to being the top trainer, Lieberman said, 'I put a lot into my work. It's very consuming. It's not always fun standing in the hot sun, but I've tried to put in extra hours. I guess I showed leadership qualities that my boss liked.'
High standards are what Lieberman is all about. At Lake Oswego High School she was one of those all-everything kids. Also known as 'Lizzie,' Lieberman played on the varsity soccer team, swam on the varsity swimming team, and was student body president. She was also a member of the National Charity League, took five AP classes, and performed with the Windjammers show choir.
When Lieberman graduated in 2005, she was sort of like a highly-recruited football player. She could have gone to many schools.
'USC offered me a full scholarship, what they call a trustee scholarship,' Lieberman said. 'It was an easy decision to go there.'
However, her decision to be a Trojan trainer was slow but smooth. Lake Oswego High had powerhouse football teams while she was there, but Lieberman was always busy playing for the soccer team.
'I never knew too much about football until I came to SC,' Lieberman admitted.
It was during her sophomore year at Southern Cal that Lieberman was offered the chance to join the student trainer program. As a kinesiology major with a minor in comparative literature, she saw this as a great learning opportunity.
'USC excels in a lot of academic areas,' Lieberman said. 'But they want you to focus on different areas, not just stick with the sciences. That was just what I wanted to do.'
Certainly, as a student trainer Lieberman has had many experiences. Not all of them great.
She remembers going on a road trip to play Nebraska and having to go through a locker room full of Cornhuskers in order to get to the training room.
'I had put a hood over my face and put my hands on the shoulders of my boss,' Lieberman said.
Later on that day, Lieberman received a pizza she will always remember. The words 'Go Huskers' were spelled out on it with pepperoni.
What college football crazy fans in Los Angeles really want to know, of course, is what the Trojans are really like. Lieberman sees them from a future doctor's point of view.
'They're incredible,' she said. 'Especially when you see them in rehab. They heal so quickly it's like they're non-human!'
Certainly after all the hard work she puts in, Lieberman doesn't mind getting some reflected glory. But what means the most to her is being part of the whole process that keeps these athletes healthy. The experience has set the tone for her future.
'When I started I wasn't set on premed,' Lieberman said. 'But then I started working with all the athletic trainers, doctors, therapists and orthopedic surgeons and started treating all kinds of injuries. I got to observe operations, like one on a lineman for hip surgery.
'I got to see all of these cool things. Cool things I hope to be doing myself someday.'
That lies ahead of her. For now, Elizabeth Lieberman is part of what many experts are calling one of the greatest college football dynasties of all time.
That's cool, too.