Liz Turner Finds A Place Called Home|
May 14, 2015
Standing five feet, 11 inches tall, there aren't too many middle school girls that match Liz Turner's stature. So when Liz met a young girl at a local after-school sports program that was built like her, Liz knew she could have a major impact as a mentor.
"I knew I would relate to her really well because of my athletics experience growing up," Liz said. "Us tall women need to stick together."
Now a senior captain on the #14-ranked USC women's rowing team, Liz is as much a role model on the water as she is off it.
"I just feel that there's so much I can help those girls with who are younger than I," Liz said. "In the sport of rowing, you're not allowed to talk in the boat. It's only the coxswain's voice that you hear, so the most important thing is leading by example."
This semester, Liz has set a great example for her younger teammates through her dedication to community service. For her weekly efforts as a local volunteer, the USC Athletics Community Outreach program is naming her the Trojan Outreach Athlete of the Month for April.
From 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM each Tuesday since February, Liz has visited A Place Called Home in South Los Angeles. It's a space where children from eight years old to 21 go to have a little fun after school in a safe environment. Along with teammate Lindsay Gibson, Liz assists as a supervisor for the facility's recreation department and also facilitates the basketball, soccer or whatever other sports are going on that day.
"Working with kids was something I've always wanted to do here at USC," Liz said.
If you don't believe her, just take a look at her Tuesday schedule.
Liz wakes up for morning rowing practice at 5:15 AM. Tuesday practices, for the record, are typically hard practices. Then she's back on campus to eat and shower if there's time. Class starts at 11 AM and doesn't end until 3:30 PM. Then it's time for another quick bite before a 25-minute bike ride over to A Place Called Home.
After returning to campus, she grabs dinner with her roommate before salsa dance practice from 9:30 PM-11:30 PM. Finally, a moment of rest before another 5:15am wake-up call for practice the next morning.
"It's a full day," Liz said with a sigh at the thought of her packed schedule.
So why does she do it?
"When I leave at 6:30 every Tuesday, I really feel like I've done something productive, that I've done something that's helped those kids in the long run," Liz said. "The more you're there, the more the kids warm up to you."
But the Ontario, Canada native knows she also gains a great deal out of each bike ride to the South Los Angeles facility. For example, she's discovered how to most effectively manage and interact with kids while teaching and playing sports.
"I've definitely changed, too," Liz said. "The way I respond to the kids is a lot different now. I've really learned how to work with kids in sports. You can't always be demanding. You have to give a little bit as well."
And as a soon-to-be college graduate heading to Washington University in St. Louis to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, those are valuable skills to attain.
"For me, I've always had fun with sports," she said. "I really try to bring that to A Place Called Home, to never forget the fun component."
Liz will bring her maximum effort, fun-filled mentality with her to the Pac-12 Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma on Sunday, May 17.