If Liz Buhler is engaged in an athletic contest, chances are she isn’t coming out of it with a clean uniform.
“She’s aggressive, and she’s definitely not afraid to slide or get dirty,” said Jon Rockwood, Buhler’s soccer coach throughout her four years as a Laker. “Liz played passionately, no matter what, and that kind of passion is rare in players.”
Indeed, the North Tahoe senior played each of her sports with all-out effort and heart. And she played them well.
For that athleticism and passion, Buhler is the Sierra Sun’s Female Athlete of the Year from North Tahoe High School.
“It’s her work ethic. She shows up every day and wants to play hard and wants others to take it seriously, because it matters to her,” said Rick Buhler, father and head coach of the North Tahoe girls basketball team the past three years. “That’s something that’s hard to teach. Either you have that drive or you don’t. That’s probably her main strength, is her drive.”
Rockwood agreed. He said the thing he knew he’d always get from his center midfielder was dedication to her game. On a typical day of practice, she brought her lunchpail and went to work. And it showed on game day.
“I think Liz’s biggest strength is that she worked hard, and through that hard work she saw results,” Rockwood said. “Her passion for soccer is beyond evident. She loves the game so much, she’s really good at it.”
Buhler possesses another invaluable athletic quality — toughness. While she wasn’t the most physically imposing player on the field or court, listed at 5 foot 4, she’d willingly trade a basketball floor burn in exchange for a saved loose ball, or a cleat to the shin to break up a pass on the pitch.
It’s part of what made her such an effective soccer and basketball player, shrugging off the pain to stay in the game. Buhler also played softball, and was willing to sacrifice her body for that sport just the same, but the Lakers were forced to forfeit her senior season due to a lack of players.
“I think she has a really high pain threshold. She can play through injuries,” said Rockwood, adding that her toughness was crucial to playing a full 80-minute game, especially at such a physically demanding position. “She can really focus on what’s going on at the time, and I think that’s really admirable. It’s hard to coach passion, and Liz is full of it.”
Buhler’s talents were evident from a young age. As a freshman, she played substantial minutes for Rockwood on the varsity soccer team. She started every year thereafter, “organizing the show” from center midfield. She was voted to the All-League second team in the competitive, mixed-division Sierra League each of the past two years.
Basketball may have been her forte, however. Buhler played varsity all four years, earning a starting guard position midway through her freshman season. By her sophomore year she was the starting point guard, flashing skills on both ends of the floor, most notably her outside shooting touch.
“There wasn’t really anything she couldn’t do,” her father said. “She could take it to the hole, she was second in steals, second in rebounds, first in scoring — she really could do it all.”
Buhler’s all-around game can be credited in large part to her basketball smarts, according to her father. “She has a high basketball IQ,” he said. “As her dad, there were some issues that weren’t easy. But she’s very easily coached. She listens and understands the game well.”
After solid seasons leading the Lakers, Buhler was voted to the Mount Rose All-League first team both her junior and senior years. She was voted to the second team as a sophomore and received honorable mention recognition as a freshman.