Ed Elder, a 1977 graduate of Lakeview High School, will be bound for Rio De Janeiro this summer as a medical staff trainer for the USA Olympic Team.
Elder is no stranger to international athletics, having spent decades treating and preparing athletes for competition, his duties taking him around the globe for world championships. His role is one first inspired from his experiences in Lakeview, being introduced to sports medicine under the tutelage of Bobbie Steninger, his former track and field coach now entering her 54th year leading the LHS track program. A multi-sport standout at LHS, it was during a trip to Eugene to compete at the basketball state playoffs at the University of Oregon campus that a chance encounter established what would become a lifetime in medicine. Steninger introduced Elder to the head trainer at the University of Oregon, who suggested he enroll in the athletic training program.
Utilizing the Daly Fund, Elder attended the University of Oregon, and after graduation stayed in Eugene, working as a trainer for the Eugene Emeralds, a minor league baseball team. When an opening for a trainer became available at the University of Oregon, he jumped at the chance, working extensively with football and track and field for the next 13 years.
Following Oregon’s improbable trip to the Rose Bowl, of which Elder was heavily involved not only as a trainer but coordinating transportation and hospitality as well, a new opportunity in 1995 brought Elder to Idaho in the Nampa Valley to facilitate high school training and work with local hospitals. Eventually he relocated to the Seattle, Wash. area where he remains to this day, heavily involved in clinic management while continuing to work as a trainer with local schools.
While his participation with USA Track and Field has led to Elder traveling the world for events in places like Russia, China, Qatar and across Europe, his role is a unique and hectic one. While athletes gain the glory, trainers are a vital if unheralded part of their success, anonymous to fans but deeply appreciated by athletes with whom he forms close relationships. During the Olympics he will put in upwards of 20-hour workdays, from early morning preparations to post-event treatments and staff meetings assuring athletes compete at their best.
“We’re living with the athletes for a month or more from training camps through the events,” said Elder. “We see them every day and work closely with them.”
Elder will be part of a USA Track and Field training camp in Houston, Texas before the Olympic Trials start in Eugene in July and the actual Olympic Games in August. While the spotlight is on the athlete, often Elder can be seen just in the background doing his diligent duties and reveling in their achievements. To complete such a thankless and anonymous task is one that comes naturally to Elder, noting the profound influence that growing up in Lake County has had on his professional career.
“The Daly Fund allowed me to go to the University of Oregon to do what I do,” said Elder. “Growing up in Lake County taught me about hard work, knowing what it takes to get the job done. I fought fires in the summer and worked at Fremont Sawmill. It showed me that if I work harder than anybody else I will get the job done and be successful. Being a trainer isn’t an 8-to-5 job, it’s a lot of work.”
Elder said helping people is his greatest reward, a humble and yeoman’s work ethic instilled by Steninger that continues to serve him well to this day. He hasn’t forgotten his roots, returning to Lakeview each year around Memorial Day to visit family and reconnect with his former coach from decades prior that helped send him to the highest levels of athletic competition.