One of the biggest cross country and track & field recruits for the Demon Deacons in 1985, Liz Becker Howells (’90) came to Wake Forest from Portland, Oregon and immediately made an impact on the program. She was a top-seven runner as a freshman, and later that year, she set a school record in the women’s 800m run in outdoor track. Her sophomore season, she set another school record with her sixth-place finish in the indoor mile at the ACC Championship while anchoring the 2-mile relay team that also set a school record. Her junior year, she finished 19th at the ACC Cross Country Championship, helping propel the Deacs to a second-place finish in their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance. In addition, she won the 1988 ACC 3,000m run, becoming the first female Deacon to win an individual ACC Championship. Howells also earned All-ACC honors twice in her career.
My name is Liz Becker Howells. I live in Lake Oswego with my husband, Blake, and three children. Ellie is currently a senior at Northern Arizona University. Katy is a freshman at the University of Washington and Drew is a junior at Lake Oswego High School.
When did you graduate from Wake Forest?
I graduated from Wake in 1990, though I had to take a semester off due to the diagnosis of a brain tumor at the end of my junior year.
What was your major and/or minor?
I majored in Health and Sport Science, which is now known as Health and Exercise Science.
What does being a Demon Deacon mean to you?
When I think about being a Demon Deacon, Wake’s motto, Pro Humanitate, immediately comes to mind. “For Humanity.” Isn’t it impressive that a University’s mission is to make the world a better place?
Why are you still involved in Wake Forest Athletics?
Wake Forest gave me the extraordinary opportunity to receive an excellent education and to see a part of the country I probably would have never been exposed to had I not gone to school at Wake. Wake Forest taught me so many things about life, interacting with people from all backgrounds and overcoming obstacles. I feel so grateful to have had that chance to be a Demon Deacon.
Why do you feel it is important to give back to the University?
Wake played a major role in the person that I am today. By giving back, it is my way of thanking the University and all those who I met along the way.
What is your current occupation?
I coach cross country and track at Lake Oswego High School in Oregon.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest?
I have so many fond memories of Wake: winning the ACC 3,000m title my junior year, being awarded the first ever NCAA Award of Courage for personal strength, both on and off the field of play, and occasionally running with my HSS professors on their lunch hour. More fond memories include often running into President Hearns at campus movie night, Dr. Wilson’s poetry class and running through Reynolda Village and Graylyn on my way to a 10 mile workout. I loved the artwork in Reynolda Hall, Moravian Love Feast and, of course, the rolled Quad with Tom Petty blasting in the background.
What makes you most proud of Wake Forest?
Wake Forest’s commitment to being one of the top universities in the country.
When you come back to Wake Forest, you always…
I do not get a chance to travel to Winston-Salem often, however, last fall my daughter Katy wanted to see Wake. I took her to the track and Reynolds Gym, where I spent the majority of my time for both classes and athletics. Of course, I also had to show her the Quad and Wait Chapel.
I was there when…
Muggsy Bogues was a star on the basketball team and the men’s golf team won the NCAA Tournament.
Who is your favorite coach at Wake Forest, current or past?
One of my favorite coaches was Jesse Haddock, the men’s golf coach. He would often compare runners with golfers—10% talent and 90% mental.
(Please note: This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Gold Rush.)