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Elisa Benzoni '88

Elisa Benzoni

A five-time All-American in cross country and track, Elisa Benzoni ’88 is a doctor in the Physicians for Women practice in Connecticut. She was inducted into IUP’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

Elisa recently answered questions about her time at IUP and what she’s accomplished since.

What was your fondest memory of IUP?

My fondest memory at IUP includes all the time spent with the cross-country team. We spent hours together each day for four years. My teammates became my best friends and family. Specifically, my best memory was at the NCAA Division II cross country nationals at Evansville, Ind., my senior year. My family, Coach [Ed] Fry, and some of my friends from the cross country team drove out to cheer me on.

How did IUP influence your life?

My four years at IUP had a definite impact on who I am today. The long hours of studying and the rigorous workouts in cross country and track taught me, by working hard and being diligent, you can achieve just about anything you strive for. I have made some incredible friendships that have endured for over twenty years.

The person who influenced me the most was Coach Fry. He is perhaps the best person I have ever met in my life, and I have met many people. He taught me to try to make the best in any situation, no matter how difficult. He has constantly and consistently demonstrated this to me, through his life and through his coaching. He has the ability to make you feel that you can do anything you put your mind to... it’s an incredible talent. There are not many people that you encounter in life that can make you feel as he does, no matter if you are the first on the team or the last!

Why did you choose IUP?

June of my senior year, I had still not chosen a college. I was seriously considering Syracuse or Duke, but I knew I wanted to run cross country and was unsure as how I would do in Division I. I had played soccer for four years in high school and ran track, but never cross country. I also knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine.

A concerned teacher had heard of IUP and directed me to Coach Fry. At the end of June, I made a visit to IUP, where I met Coach Fry. I was so impressed with him… his humor, his energy, and his friendliness. I remember feeling like one of the squirrels in the Oak Grove, trying to scurry to keep up with him. I instinctively liked the feeling I had when I was at IUP and was so impressed with Coach Fry—which is the reason I chose IUP.

What have you been doing since graduating?

Since my graduation from IUP in 1988, I took a year off from schooling, lived at home in Victor, N.Y., and worked several jobs and competed in many road races, saving money for medical school. I then was in medical school for four years, did a one-year rotating internship in Pittsfield, Mass., and then a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology in Newark, Del. I got married during my internship year to a fellow medical student and since then had four boys, now ages thirteen to six years old. I have continued to run road races, from 5Ks to marathons, and, in the past two years, have started competing in triathlons. I have been living in Connecticut for eleven years, where I am a partner in a private OB/GYN practice and work full time.

Where did you get your nickname Weezie?

I am the ninth of ten children. There are five girls and five boys. I am a fraternal twin to the eighth child, who incidentally is also an All-American (eleven times) in track and field at University of Rochester. Anyway, when I was born, my third oldest brother, who was nine years old at the time, apparently had a difficult time pronouncing “Elisa,” and I’m told it came out sounding like “Weezie.” (And no, I’ve never had any respiratory problems!) My twin’s name is Josefa, and she was nicknamed “Dippy.” I think I got the better deal!

Profile published on 12/8/09

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