February 6, 2022
Liz Podominick joins USA Basketball with a unique perspective
The former Olympic alternate in track and field is now the assistant director for the U.S. women's basketball program
Basketball fans might remember Liz Podominick from Minnesota’s run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four. Track and field fans may recall her accomplished career as a discus thrower that peaked with a World Championship appearance. After a decade working in different capacities with other U.S. Olympic sports, Podominick is back with hoops, recently being named assistant director for the U.S. women’s basketball program.
“My main thing is to help the national team and Briana and make sure they stay No. 1 in the world,” Podominick said, referring to Briana Weiss, who succeeded Carol Callan as national team director back in October. “Briana has been amazing getting me acclimated.”
Podominick spent the past four years with USA Boxing, most recently as a high performance manager, saying it was a “great experience, but [I’m] ready for a change.” Once she saw a posting with USA Basketball, she applied, referring to it as “the gold standard and such an honor.” Her new responsibilities range from preparing for training camps and organizing flights and hotels to simply getting water for the players on the bench.
“As a former athlete, I know what they need,” she added. “It’s not glamorous work, but someone needs to do it. Because I have worked with different sports, I have seen that the beauty of sports is that there are so many commonalities, but each is unique. Because I have seen a unique perspective, I can anticipate needs.”
Podominick was a 6’2 freshman post player on the 2004 Golden Gophers team that advanced to the Final Four as a No. 7 seed. With Lindsay Whalen (currently on the Hall of Fame ballot in her first year of eligibility) at the point, Minnesota upset UCLA, Kansas State, Boston College and Duke before running into Diana Taurasi’s UConn team in the national semifinal.
“That was a whirlwind,” said Podominick, who is from Lakeville, Minnesota. “It was quite a season, still trying to find your ground. Lindsay Whalen was hurt in the Big Ten Tournament, resulting in the lower [NCAA Tournament] seed, but she was a great leader and still is.”
Podominick continued to play basketball for NCAA Tournament Minnesota teams in 2005 and 2006, but she really stood out throwing the discus and shot put for the Gophers and collected Big Ten titles in each. She threw at the U.S. Championships several times, earning a spot in discus on the 2013 World Championship team that competed at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. She was also the alternate for the 2016 Rio Olympics in discus.
“Moscow was my first international [competition] as a track athlete,” she said. “It was a lot to take in, just to be in a different country, such an eye-opening experience. There were so many athletes, and I developed great friendships that even led to standing up in their weddings.”
Podominick also worked with U.S. Figure Skating from 2010 to 2012 in various positions before electing to focus on her own Olympic aspirations. Now she will work with a program that expects not only to play in the Olympics, but to win the gold medal.
“My No. 1 goal is to figure out the best way to help the team and help out the pipelines of the future,” Podominick concluded.
The U.S. team will host Puerto Rico and Belgium in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Feb. 10-12, although the U.S. has already secured its spot at this September’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia, after winning the Olympic gold medal.
Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, the ISU and World Athletics. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 70 countries.
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