Oliver reminisces on her journey in athletic training

Jacob Barriga
Staff Writer

Marilyn Oliver, professor of kinesiology emerita, reflected on her career at the University of La Verne and spoke about her experience of being one of the first head athletic trainers of the country during her last lecture held via WebEx on Tuesday. Oliver served as the chairwoman of the kinesiology department for the previous three years. 

Oliver recently retired after 42 years at the University, serving as head athletic trainer for 20 years and also director of the athletic training education. She said she was appreciative and reflective of what La Verne has done for her.

“It’s daunting to give this last lecture. I don’t know how to encapsulate 42 years of experiences,” Oliver said. 

She shared her journey into athletic training.

Oliver was a four-year volleyball player at Chapman University, and after becoming injured, she was introduced to athletic training. She earned her master’s in science and sports medicine and after passing the Board of Certification exam, she began her career at the University of La Verne in 1978. Oliver was not only the first certified trainer at the University, but she was one of the only female head trainers in the country.

“It took years for schools to get comfortable with me being a female trainer,” Oliver said. “It is good to see now that the industry has gotten more comfortable with having women trainers.” 

As one of the first female head trainers in the nation, Oliver experienced many less-than-optimal situations when traveling to opposing schools. They would not give her proper training rooms and student-athletes would not respect her work sometimes and try to get under her skin, she said. 

“I couldn’t go into their locker rooms to do pregame and postgame treatment. We would set up outside, in the hallway and even one school put us in a big shower to do treatment,” Oliver said. 

However, Oliver never let it affect her work and took it all in stride.

She worked with many different teams outside ULV, including the 1984 pre-Olympic women’s volleyball team and the fencing team. Oliver was a trailblazer for women in the athletic training department and Luke Garcia, sophomore psychology major, made it known that Oliver serves as an inspiration. 

“People may think they can’t become something unless they see it happen themselves, and you became that inspiration that young women look up to now,” Garcia said. 

Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and clinical coordinator of the athletic training program, pointed out the impact Oliver had on her students.

“Look how many of our great alums, credited to you, have come back, and they have done great things for this University,” Alvarez said. 

Al Clark, professor of humanities, made sure that Oliver knew how much she meant to La Verne for building an inclusive and progressive culture at the University.

“We have appreciated your time here at the University of La Verne. You have done so much for our community and our students and we wish you the very best,” Clark said. 

Oliver gave thanks to all those who supported her in her time at the University.

“I have been helped and supported daily by warm and caring personnel across the University. I would not have had any success or been around this long without my kinesiology department members. I hope I have had some positive influence and left fun lasting memories at La Verne,” she said. 

Jacob Barriga can be reached at jacob.barriga@laverne.edu.

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Jacob Barriga, a senior journalism major, is a copy editor for the Campus Times. He has also served as sports editor and a staff writer.

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