BY AMELIA KOZLOWSKI
A long line of students through the athletic wing after school can be seen daily outside the trainer’s room waiting for help, advice and expertise. Seeing dozens of athletes every day, new athletic trainer Elizabeth (Liz) Saunders has her hands full with helping these athletes.
Although this is Ms. Saunders’ first year here at East Lyme High School, she has spent many years gaining the experience and knowledge that she has to offer the school.
Being her third year as a licensed athletic trainer, she worked with other high school athletes in Appalachia, Ohio for two years before coming here.
“I love the messiness of being a trainer in a high school. It’s a really formative time where I get to journey with kids through all of it,” Ms. Saunders said
Before that, Ms. Saunders attended Southern Connecticut State University and received a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, which consisted of completing 2,000 plus clinical hours. She eventually went on to masters training at Ohio University. Ms. Saunders got her license after the four and a half years of schooling and later passing the national credentials exam.
Ms. Saunders decided to focus on the high school demographic because she believes building the relationships with her clients are really meaningful. Although she has big shoes to fill, Ms. Saunders is taking all the right steps in getting to know her new students.
“Liz is a great fit for the students here at ELHS. She is very personable, easy to talk to, and helps the students even when there’s an overwhelming amount in her room. It’s nice to have a trainer that enjoys working with us and is always willing to help in anyway she can, no matter the injury,” said senior Karlie Rowe.
Ms. Saunders grew up in New London and East Lyme, attending St. Bernard’s high school. Back then, she was extremely interested in art. She drew the muscles under a hand holding a basketball for one of her projects, and from there, her interest and passion for anatomy and physiology started to develop.
According to Ms. Saunders, being a female in a highly male dominated field of work can be difficult and competitive. Along with that, she admits that many people have misconceptions about what she does as an athletic trainer.
In her job, Ms. Saunders not only treats patients and provides healthcare for injured athletes, but gives emergency care when necessary and sticks with patients through both long and short-term rehabilitation.
Sophomore Josie Provost has spent time with Ms. Saunders both in and out of her office.
“Liz always has a smile on her face no matter where she is. She’s always laughing and trying to get to know everyone. I’ve known Liz for a while, and she’s a great addition here at the school,” said Provost.
When Ms. Saunders is not in the office, she works at the Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center and loves playing with her 2 year old dog, Benji. She also enjoys hiking and coffee.
“The most rewarding and enjoyable things about being a trainer are building relationships and being able to assess students’ experiences and further aid them. It can be a bit of a challenge having to deal with so many more students and maneuver around many schedules but everyone at ELHS has been super-friendly and welcoming to me,” Ms. Saunders said.
A few of Ms. Saunders’ goals for the future include “solidifying the role of athletic trainers in the school system” and be able to “give kids the highest quality of healthcare they can get.”