Lizzy Crist was a standout soccer goalie at Minnetonka High School before continuing her career at Division III Washington University in St. Louis. In 2016, she helped her school to an NCAA title, racking up numerous awards — including national Division III athlete of the year — in the process. Last weekend, she added an even bigger honor when she was named the NCAA's Woman of the Year. Crist, who is now pursuing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota, chatted with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand:
Q You had already earned numerous honors, but this most recent one seems even bigger. What is its significance to you?
A All these awards have been really impactful on how I viewed my undergraduate experience. I'm extremely grateful for any award. Because of the pool of people available to win [Woman of the Year], this one is very special. I'm still recovering from the weekend and coming back to reality. I don't think it's totally sunk in yet, and I don't think maybe it ever really will.
Q You majored in biomedical engineering as an undergraduate student. Even at a school that afforded you a balance between academics and athletics, how challenging was that?
A It stems back to my older sister, who swam at Washington U. She was in pre-med, and I was able to watch her balance a very demanding schedule. She suggested biomedical engineering to me, and I fell in love with that. And with the type of students here, I was on a team that would be up late studying in the hotel lobby the night before a national championship game. The rest of campus is back home going out, but we're making sure everything is taken care of.
Q You co-authored a paper on how malignant tumors grow blood vessels. Is there a specific direction you want your research to go eventually?
A I've gravitated toward cancer research. I plan to continue with that, most specifically looking at cancer cell migration. … I hope to return to higher education and become a professor to embrace my passion for teaching — specifically having an impact on female students.
Q Your senior year, you allowed six goals the whole season. Do any of those six still bug you?
A Ha, that's interesting. Well, as a goalie you never want to be scored on. But it's funny because when I think about the two goals scored against me in the final four, I actually on the field started smiling to myself both times, which is not the typical reaction. … Knowing that these were my last games, it did not matter whether we won or lost. That was never the focus. It was really just that I wanted to enjoy those last moments with my teammates, including my younger sister on the team. I would never want to have a bitter memory. And it's easier to remember since we won.
Q I tried to find you on social media to do research for this interview, and I couldn't. Are you the rare young athlete who isn't on Twitter?
A It's a great mode of transmitting information, but I just don't have Twitter or Instagram. At times social media can feed insecurities and make you so focused on what people are viewing. I just try to stay away from getting too caught up in that.