Brenner's Secret Elixir
Note: This story begins our look at the start of the high-school girls' basketball season. Tomorrow is our preseason Powerade Fab 50 team rankings.
Scientific fact says that the human body is 70 percent water, but if doctors were to closely examine Elizabeth Brenner of Beaverton, Ore., they might be surprised at what they find.
Based on the amount of milk the Brenner family drinks, there's a chance Elizabeth is made up mostly of one- and two-percent milk, not H-two-O.
"I have at least one glass with breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Brenner, a 2011 superstar athlete from Jesuit High School. "The way some people drink water, I drink milk."
It only takes one look at Brenner to know milk has done her body good. The 6-foot-2 forward from the Oregon Reign is a powerhouse made of muscle. The first time Reign coach Bryon Sheng saw her as an seventh grader, he pointed her out to former Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey who looked at Brenner and exclaimed, "Dude, her calves are bigger than mine!"
And if you're wondering just how athletic she is, take note: Brenner plays volleyball, basketball, softball and track, and has been named to the all-state teams at least once in each sport. She led Jesuit to the 2008 volleyball title, helped the basketball and volleyball teams finish as state runners-up last season, and then decided to skip school softball last spring to throw the shot put and javelin in track for the first time ever. She broke the school record in both -- impressive considering Jesuit has had more than its share of track success -- and won the state shot put title with a toss of 43 feet, 2.25 inches. She took second in the javelin with a throw of 146 feet 6.
Oh yeah, she's also an 11-time world champion in racquetball, which she no longer plays.
"I never played soccer," she offers, as if her athletic resume is lacking in some way.
Sheng, who has coached Brenner in basketball since the eighth grade, says, "I don't know how she does it and more than anything, I don't know how her parents do it. The girls on the team, we joke about how perfect she is -- besides being a great athlete and teammate, she's got a really high GPA, her room is clean ... she does it all!"
She does it well, too. Brenner has already given a verbal commitment to play volleyball at Oregon but said she likes to play multiple sports because she's watched too many of her friends and teammates get burned out.
"I know a lot of people who have only played one sport and they've got sick of it," said Brenner, the reigning state player of the year in volleyball. "It's more fun to do different things each season, and it's perfect how it switches right before I get tired of one of them."
Of course, in the interest of keeping Brenner healthy, coaches insist that she take a few days off between seasons, which Brenner always objects to.
"I don't really like having free time," she said. "When I have to take two or three days off between seasons, I feel useless."
To say sports are a family affair in the Brenner household would be an understatement. Brenner's parents, Jennifer and Doug Sr., were both collegiate swimmers. Her older sister, Mary Claire, is a junior outfielder for Oregon State's softball team and her younger brother, Doug Jr., plays football, basketball and baseball at Jesuit.
It's no wonder Sheng describes Brenner as one of the most competitive people he's ever been around.
"She wants first place or nothing," he said. "If she takes second place she drops the trophy in the trash can on her way out the door. That's what separates her from almost any other female athlete."
Well, that and the amount of milk she drinks. Besides helping mold her into a lean but strong athletic specimen unusual for high school sports, all the milk has had another positive effect on Brenner.
In all her years of playing all those sports, in all the hours on the court and field she's endured, Brenner has only broken one bone, the big toe on her right foot.
Not surprisingly, she played through it. After all, it was a playoff game.
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