Article reposted from Amherst New Era Progress
In the first game of Amherst native Lee Hamilton’s junior season, things weren’t going so well for his Lancers. Against powerhouse program Salem, the Lancers fumbled the ball early in the game, and the problems began to stack up from there.
Without thinking, Lee jumped on top of the ball to try to keep possession for the Lancers. The move, he said, wasn’t ideal, because after landing awkwardly on the ball, another bigger Salem player piled on top of him.
From yards away on the sideline, Elizabeth Hamilton ran onto the turf to assist in the injury evaluation. Then a sophomore at Lynchburg College doing an internship-type rotation with Amherst football, Elizabeth came face-to-face with her brother for her first-ever on-field evaluation.
“It was awful,” Elizabeth said matter-of-factly. “You definitely have to keep your emotions separate from your professionalism, obviously, and that’s hard when it’s your little brother down on the field.”
Lee quickly recovered, though, only having the wind knocked out of him. He became one of the team’s leaders in his junior and senior seasons, and his sister had a front-row seat.
“Having her in the stands is one thing,” Lee said, “but having her there on the sideline with us is another.”
Elizabeth said during her sophomore year, though athletic training students generally are not allowed to do rotations at their alma maters, her professor “bent the rules” for her. Elizabeth said she knew if she wasn’t assigned to Amherst, she wouldn’t be able to watch her brother play on Friday nights.
Lee said he “absolutely” knows she made a difference for his teammates throughout both seasons.
“Knowing Elizabeth, I knew she would fit right in,” Lee said. “Her personality would really get along with a lot of guys on the team, and they like to talk to any girl, so being a girl athletic trainer out there, it’s not that hard [for her] to get too much popularity. They really bonded with her well. … People would run to her to go get taped before games. They’d say, ‘I only want Liz to tape me.”
Now a junior, Elizabeth has been working a rotation with Liberty University’s football team this fall, but she couldn’t abandon her Lancers. She came back to volunteer her athletic training for the Lancers this season, as well.
“Once you’re on the sideline, you can’t get away from it,” she said. “It wouldn’t be the same [to watch from the stands].”
When Amherst’s season came to an end with a loss in the second round of the playoffs this year, Elizabeth said disappointment manifested quickly after having spent two years with the team.
“It ripped my heart out,” she said of the raw emotions she saw in the players.
And she also found the loss especially difficult knowing it was the last time she would be on the sideline with her brother.
In addition to supporting each other throughout their athletic careers — Lee has wrestled in the past and has played football since he was 5 years old while Elizabeth participated in basketball, volleyball and track — the two also spend time doing non-athletic activities, such as playing video games, together.
“You think of siblings fighting, but that never was a thing [with us],” Elizabeth said. “Our temperaments are different, but other than that, we’re like the same person.”
Added Lee: “We would be best friends if we weren’t brother and sister.”
The siblings’ close relationship has fostered opportunities for the two to motivate each other, Lee said, as evidenced in the competition the two have over class rank.
“She got seventh in her class, so I told [my family] the night she graduated, ‘I’m going to be top five; I’m going to be better than her. That’s my goal,’” Lee said.
The friendly rivalry has pushed Lee into the top five of his class of almost 350 students and is a result of his commitment to academic excellence, Elizabeth explained.
“I don’t know any other human that works as hard and applies themselves as much and puts as much pressure on themselves as he does,” Elizabeth said, referring to her brother’s drive in the classroom and on the gridiron.
Each part of the dynamic duo recognizes the other is excelling in their current positions, and each radiates a sense of pride in the other.
Lee recently received the Student-Athlete Achievement Award Lee from the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. He was chosen among nominees from across the state for his football and academic accomplishments.
“Honestly, when they told me he was nominated, it’s bad to say, but I was like, ‘He’s going to win it. They can go ahead and put his name on the award. … But I’m a little biased,” Elizabeth said.
At the end of the football season this year, Lee took home first-team all-conference and all-district honors. As a junior, he made the second all-conference and all-district teams, and as a sophomore he also was named to the second team all-conference.
Lee also has about a 4.3 GPA.
“It’s just pure pride,” Elizabeth added. “He’s killing it in everything he does.”
So too does Lee see how his sister’s passion for helping people through athletic training has made her successful in her field.
“To see her happy in what she’s doing now, it’s great for her,” Lee said, “and it makes me happy.”