Puyallup High graduate Liz Griffith had a choice to make last December.
Just a month removed from completing her redshirt freshman season with Washington State University women’s soccer team, Griffith had been part of a unit that had just finished a 14-6 season.
As the Cougars rolled through the season, Griffith sat quietly watching her new team play at a high level, feeling disconnected being so far away from home. Homesickness had set in, and she felt she needed to make a decision on her future.
WSU and Pullman just wasn’t the right fit for me. I wasn’t happy.
“WSU and Pullman just wasn’t the right fit for me. I wasn’t happy,” Griffith said.
Griffith made the decision to return to Pierce County by transferring to Pacific Lutheran University and its women’s soccer program.
The move has been a boon as Griffith has played in all 13 games this season for the Lutes, starting 12 of them while producing two goals and two assists as PLU currently holds a 10-0-4 overall record heading into the week.
“I got to go to a Division-I school and it wasn’t the right fit for me,” Griffith said. “I’d rather go play somewhere where I enjoy it and be happy, (rather) than being in the highest division. I don’t think it really matters, because after college, everyone starts over.”
And when Griffith starts over after college at PLU, she hopes to continue a family tradition with a major in elementary education set by her mother Kelley, who teaches kindergarten.
“I want to get a good education because I’m not going to be a professional soccer player,” Griffith said with a laugh. “I liked that (PLU) is a smaller campus, more individualized classroom setting. I like that as I think you’ll get a better education like that.”
Pullman to Parkland
Not many student athletes understand what it takes to live so far away from where they called home when they first head to college. It’s a new world, a new adventure many for many of them.
For Griffith, it was uncomfortable as it was foreign.
It’s different being a transfer student than being a first-year player, which is kind of different because you’re in your own group. But right away I felt welcomed (at PLU) and a part of a team.
“It’s different being a transfer student than being a first-year player, which is kind of different because you’re in your own group,” she said. “But right away I felt welcomed (at PLU) and a part of a team.”
But it was more than just living out at WSU in Pullman that weighed on Griffith. It was the fact she just didn’t know what to expect after moving east of the Cascades.
Sometimes the thought of a school, athletic and academic program connects with a person far more than the actuality of experience which accompanies those things.
“(PLU coach Seth Spidahl) already knew what kind of player I was, so I’m playing up to that expectation,” said Griffith, who played club soccer for Spidahl. “Honestly, I think a lot of the girls on this team can play Division I soccer if they wanted. We have a solid team, and we all play really well together — we make up for each other’s weaknesses and help each other out.”
Griffith is at home now with Pacific Lutheran, as she has played a large factor in the Lutes’ success this season. She trails lead goal-scorer Machaela Graddy (four) by two goals for a share of the team lead, and is only three assists shy of the lead, also held by Graddy, who has five.
Griffith has accepted the fact that reality doesn’t always meet imagination.
That may have been the case in Pullman, but not this close to home. For Griffith, reality is everything she was hoping to get from her college, both in athletics and academics.
“I’m happy with my choice (of) coming to PLU,” Griffith said.