Liza Casella (’11) competed for the Wake Forest field hockey team from 2007-10, helping the Demon Deacons to a 61-27 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances in her time in Old Gold and Black. With the Rutland, Vt. native serving as a key piece in the team’s backfield, the Deacs posted 11 shutouts in her four seasons. Casella also recorded four goals and 10 assists as a Deacon. In addition, she was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team in 2008 in Wake Forest’s run to the championship game and picked up a Second Team NFHCA All-South Region honor in 2010.
When did you graduate from Wake Forest?
What was your major and/or minor?
What does being a Demon Deacon mean to you?
Family. Having grown up in an Italian family with 5 siblings, the strength of the family bond is undeniable. Wake Forest afforded me the opportunity to extend my family to measures I could not even fathom. I have a great sense of pride to have worn the Old Gold & Black representing our fine University, to have been accepted into the tight-knit community Wake boasts and to share lifelong memories, friendships and connections with our Mother, so dear.
Why are you still involved in Wake Forest Athletics?
Wake Forest Athletics and the Deacon Club mean a great deal to me and have given me so much. Being able to give back to and remain involved with an institution that greatly shaped the woman I am today is an honor.
Why do you feel it is important to give back to the University?
Because it’s what we do. Our core principle, Pro Humanitate, lives deep within all of us. I remember making calls to donors thanking them for their selfless contributions that gifted me, my teammates and friends the wonderful experience and opportunity to go to Wake. I give back because I am thankful for those who paved the way before me and hope my contributions can help build the future.
What is your current occupation?
Director, Solutions Development for Casella Waste Systems, Inc.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest?
Delivering a speech at the 2011 Dean’s Dinner at Bridger Field House with Faith (Adams) Dulany (’12) about Wake hockey’s effort to bring awareness to the campus and community about the dangers of melanoma in honor of late Maria Whitehead (’03).
What makes you most proud of Wake Forest?
I am wildly thankful to Wake Forest and proud to call myself a Demon Deacon. My four years at Wake were some of the best years of my life – and that doesn’t mean everything was always peachy. I was constantly challenged, faced with adversity, had fallen down several times and built and lost friendships and relationships over the course of my college career. But with the challenges came opportunity and Wake taught me invaluable lessons and a set of skills that I have and will continue to apply throughout the rest of my life: grit, determination, relentlessness, heart, compassion, humility and pride.
When you come back to Wake Forest, you always…
Go to Putters! But also find Ms. Julie (Griffin) to give her a BIG hug.
I was there when…
Women’s field hockey, men’s soccer and men’s basketball were all ranked #1 in the country in the same year – 2008/2009.
Who is your favorite coach at Wake Forest, current or past?
Well that’s easy…Jen Averill. I remember coming to campus as a sophomore in high school for summer camp. I was in complete awe at the beauty of the campus and struck by an immediate and overwhelming feeling of family when I watched the interaction of the coaching staff and players. When I met with Jen, she told me I had only tapped 40% of my athletic potential from a hockey perspective and that she wanted to develop the other 60% of what I could become. I left campus knowing Wake was where I wanted to be – because of the family dynamic and commitment to develop me as a player, student and woman. What makes Jen so unique is her ability to empower and build strong, independent women with humility, grace and a cultured perspective.
(Note: This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of Gold Rush.)