July 9, 2015
By Brad Muller | More Features
Lisa Gosselin grew up in St. Louis, and currently lives in Ladera Ranch, California, but time after time, major decisions in her life tie her back to the University of South Carolina where she helped the Gamecock women's tennis team win four Metro Conference championships in the 1980s. Formerly Lisa Winsor, Gosselin was one of the first recruits for former South Carolina tennis coach Arlo Elkins, arriving on campus in 1984 after being ranked in the top 50 nationally during her junior career.
"I took all five recruiting trips and honestly, I was set on Pepperdine originally," Gosselin said. "Arlo Elkins, who had just accepted the head coaching job at South Carolina, scouted me at the U17 Indoor Nationals in Michigan and asked me to take an official visit to South Carolina. After the tour of the campus, meeting the athletic staff, academic advisors, and reviewing the overall education and experiencing the culture there, I was crystal clear that it was the university for me."
The connection with South Carolina didn't end following graduation in 1988. After playing professionally for two years, she later became the first female senior district manager for Budweiser of Columbia where she met the members of Hootie and the Blowfish, including drummer and former Gamecock soccer student-athlete Jim "Soni" Sonefeld, whom she had already been friends with as a college student. It was there she met Mike Gosselin, also a former Gamecock soccer student-athlete, who would become her husband several years later.
"South Carolina has played such an important part of my life," Gosselin said. "If I had not gone to South Carolina, I would never have met up with Soni and the Hootie guys with their Monday After the Master's Golf Tournament. I would have never sponsored their event when I worked for Budweiser, and I would have never met my husband; who is really my soul mate. It is very unusual for husband and wife to both be alumni athletes. South Carolina has influenced everything in our life and we have a deep seeded love for the university."
Her passion for South Carolina is shared by her teenage son and daughter, who also enjoy supporting the Gamecocks.
Gosselin has produced a successful career in brand marketing and sales leadership over the years, and she is currently a senior vice president at a digital company called Conversant Media in California. She credits a lot of her success to what she learned at South Carolina, both in the classroom and through her experience as a student-athlete.
"The education, professors, and courses prepared me for the world of business," Gosselin said. "Even though my major was very different than where my career landed, I was fully prepared to be successful in the business world in every capacity. My tennis career and four years at South Carolina prepared me through the discipline, focus, maturity, and determination that I learned juggling my school work, traveling, and performing on the tennis court. I am very fortunate to have been in several executive level positions the last few years of my career, and South Carolina definitely prepared me for my success.
"I blew my knee out right before I came to South Carolina," Gosselin added. "But I came back in about six months, which was unheard of at the time. If you go to a good school, you graduate and you happened to be an athlete on top of that, I think you have an advantage where people look at you differently. Employers just know you have what it takes to make it in business. You don't have to worry about work ethic. I became a better leader as an athlete. It helped me strengthen some of the skills I already had, but it also helped me develop the skills that maybe I was lacking."
Arlo (Elkins) made a huge difference in my life as a father figure and a coach. He pushed me to my limits, and he and his wife, Tara, considered us part of their growing family.
Between travelling with work and a busy family life, Gosselin doesn't get to play tennis very often these days, but she did return to her old stomping grounds in 2012 for a football game and was proud to see all of the new athletics facilities for the Gamecocks of today. Looking back at her own days on the courts for the Gamecocks, she revels in the team's success and is proud to have played for Elkins, who was inducted into University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013 after passing away in 2012.
"He was an amazing man," Gosselin said. "Arlo made a huge difference in my life as a father figure and a coach. He pushed me to my limits, and he and his wife, Tara, considered us part of their growing family. Arlo was gregarious, funny, smart, tough, and crazy at the same time. I loved it."
Elkins attended her wedding in 1997, and the two continued to stay connected until his passing.
"I kept in touch with him with regular phone calls when I wasn't living in South Carolina," Gosselin said. "Once I moved to Columbia when I worked for Anheuser-Busch, we would go to games together and he was always there for me. We brought the kids out to their first South Carolina game against Georgia on our tennis team's 20th reunion in 2007, and Arlo treated us all like gold. It was so great to have all of my teammates together along with our children. Arlo was truly beaming with joy. I miss him so much and think about him often. I am friends with all of his children on Facebook, and it is so comforting to see the legacy he left with the university and with his children."
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