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PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Becoming Liz Hogan


This article appears in the December edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

Liz Shaeffer will wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. to make sure the pasta Bolognese has enough time to cook in the crockpot while she’s at work. The recipe is traditional and comes from a friend’s father. Shaeffer likes to prepare it with pappardelle noodles.

Before Liz Hogan heads to U.S. national team training weekends, professional games or clinics out of state, Shaeffer makes this dish for her fiancée. 

“She gets super excited about it,” Shaeffer said. “It always has to have garlic bread.”

Hogan proposed to Shaeffer on June 20, 2019, and they were scheduled to get married this past June. The wedding was pushed to August because of the pandemic. Now, they’re shooting for June 2021. Hogan loves donuts, so those will replace a traditional wedding cake, and there will be a French fry bar.

Both lauded cooks, Hogan and Shaeffer have made food an integral part of their relationship. Shaeffer thinks a buffalo chicken dip she made and brought to a Super Bowl party in February 2017 helped make a strong impression. They had known each other prior to the party through lacrosse clinics, but they began dating not long after that night.

“I went to the Super Bowl party, brought my famous buffalo chicken dip, and I guess I won her over with it,” Shaeffer said.

The proposal was “planned to a T,” Shaeffer said, even though Hogan is “super spontaneous.” The morning before a red-eye flight to St. Lucia for a vacation, Hogan set up a GoPro camera on their second-floor balcony. On the table outside was a red vase full of white lilies and a small white teddy bear nicknamed “L3” holding a box with the engagement ring inside. (Shaeffer is “L1” because her college number at USC was 1, and Hogan is “L2” because she wore No. 2 at Syracuse and still does for Team USA.)

Shaeffer, in her purple robe and slippers at 6:45 a.m., burst into a spontaneous, “Shut up! No, stop!” before quickly catching herself and saying, “Wait, yes!”

Hogan wanted to propose in St. Lucia, but she worried about bringing the ring on the plane, into another country and then losing it. “It was perfect,” Shaeffer said.


“I don’t want to be the next Devon Wills, so to speak. I just want to be the best Liz Hogan.” — Liz Hogan


Ask those closest to Hogan, and they’ll say she’s never been happier. They’re probably right. Heading into next cycle of U.S. team tryouts — a process that ultimately will determine who represents our country at the next World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship — Hogan is hoping to bounce back after being cut in the last phase of tryouts in both 2013 and 2017.

This time, she’s approaching tryouts differently. “One of the best goalkeepers in the world,” according to U.S. assistant Amy Altig, Hogan feels as if she’s in the proper headspace to make an impact. But she isn’t going to try too hard. The expectations don’t matter. She’s going out there for herself.

“I don’t really care what other people think,” Hogan said. “I’m just motivated to play my own style of lacrosse. I’m more dedicated to making sure I’m enjoying the ride rather than trying to please everyone along the way.”

Hogan was also cut from the U.S. program in 2009. One of 85 players who advanced in tryouts, she ultimately failed to make the 49-player training roster. A graduate of Victor High School, she was cut from the Empire State Games, a high-profile tournament in New York.

“What makes Liz really special is that she never gives up,” said Halley Quillinan Griggs, Hogan’s teammate at Syracuse from 2008-10. “When she gets cut from a team, she doesn’t give up. She comes back for more. Most players would have thrown in the towel by now.”

Four years at Syracuse left Hogan feeling burnt out. She had forgotten why she loved the sport. She’s since been reinvigorated and has learned to appreciate the ride. Her relationship with Shaeffer has provided a happiness in her life off the field that has helped her balance life on it.

“I do think I’m at a point in my life where, not to say I wouldn’t try out again, but I have a lot of different priorities going on,” said Hogan, who is 31. “I’ve found different ways to enjoy the game, but this would be the ultimate cherry to go out on top.” 








Hogan loves Taylor Swift but is admittedly a horrible singer. Of course, that doesn’t stop her from trying. Supremely comfortable in her own skin, Hogan is the type of teammate who others gravitate toward.

At U.S. tryouts, she’s the one taking younger players under her wing and lightening the mood with a smattering of dad jokes — or “bad” jokes, as Altig jokingly calls them — to try and ease the pressures of competing at the highest level.

“You just hit this point in your life when you realize things are bigger than lacrosse,” Hogan said. “I just want to live this life as Liz Hogan. I don’t want to be the next Devon Wills, so to speak. I just want to be the best Liz Hogan.”

Hogan’s positive outlook on life comes from the negative experiences that shaped her youth. She uses the “failures,” as she calls them, with past tryouts as fuel. She preaches that failures are bruises and not scars.

It was the other trials in Hogan’s life that have given her the strength to push through numerous cuts and continue the pursuit of her U.S. dream.

“If she didn’t tackle these things head on, she would not be the joyful person she is right now,” said Maggie Koch, her goalie coach at Syracuse.

A relative, Cole Hogan Jr., died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. He was a Green Beret who didn’t eat sugar or fats. He rode his bike to work every day. Hogan said she always emulated his respect for his body and his devotion to fitness.

“In the beginning, it was just a shock,” Hogan said. “Now almost 20 years later, it’s more of a constant reminder every year of, ‘Where are you in your life? Where would Cole be, and what are you doing?’”

Years later, during the thick of her recruitment in high school, Hogan’s parents divorced. They’re on good terms now, but Hogan said that made the process challenging.

Then, the entire Hogan family had to come together. Just before the 2008 Thanksgiving break, Hogan’s twin sister Allyson (everyone calls her “Al”) was coming back from an off-campus party at the University of Rochester when she was hit by a car. She suffered head, neck and spinal injuries and was in a coma for several weeks. Hogan said the doctors didn’t expect her sister to make it.

“There’s a whole month of my life that’s missing,” Al Hogan said. “She was doing finals and coming to see me and writing little notes for me on the whiteboard. I credit my dad for creating a blog so I can go back and see the photos from the hospital and all my lacrosse friends coming to visit me.”

Now, you wouldn’t know Al Hogan suffered those injuries unless you asked her about them. She has since run a marathon.

“Her grit and perseverance, she didn’t let the accident overcome her life,” Hogan said. “It’s super empowering. It’s something I’m definitely inspired by. You have to keep living life. I remember saying, ‘I’m not going to let this get me down.’”

Her sister noticed the change.

“She’s playing for herself,” Al Hogan said. “If it’s her best, then that’s what’s important. She’s focused on making herself the best without getting caught up in the expectations.”




PHOTO BY SAM BRETTSCHNEIDER


Hogan is laser-focused right now.

On lacrosse, on fitness … and on Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

“She’s on a tear right now with Hallmark movies,” Al Hogan said. “A little too much, if you ask me. She’s got the Christmas lights outside in October.”

Koch, who will be the officiant of Hogan and Shaeffer’s wedding, recalled the early days knowing her. A college-aged Hogan was equal parts snark and sass. “We would call her the Little Lax Diva,” Koch said.

“One time, in my opinion, she was not giving her full effort in sprints,” Koch said. “I asked her why she wasn’t trying as hard as she could, to which she said she was. So, I kicked her out of practice.”

Unfortunately, given a dearth of healthy goalie options at the time, Koch then had to jump in goal for the rest of practice. She laughs about it now.

Hogan has since overcome the “Little Lax Diva” moniker. Koch has no reason to ever call her that now. She has matured and found such happiness in life that she has little reason to be sassy — outside of being her normal comedic self, of course.

“She’s so unapologetically herself,” Quillinan Griggs said. “It’s incredible. We’re a year apart, and she is at the peak of her game. I don’t know if I could play a full game right now.”

Altig has experienced the U.S. program as Hogan’s teammate and now as her coach. She fondly remembers being in the trenches with Hogan as a fellow goalkeeper and consoling each other after getting cut. Even after hearing about her own tryout fate, Hogan would reach out to Altig to make sure she was OK.

“She is the most humble, selfless … I’m trying to find all the greatest adjectives possible and put them in one sentence,” Altig said. “There aren’t enough words to describe how remarkable of a person she is.”

When Altig’s daughter was born, Hogan sent a gift to the house. It was an STX mini goalie stick with an attached note reading, “I look forward to seeing you in the Olympics one day.”

“She’s so happy in her life outside of lacrosse, and it has carried over and brought her that consistency. She’s playing really carefree, which helps her make saves,” Altig said. “At the goalkeeper position, your brain is your worst enemy.”

At age 31, Hogan is at her lacrosse peak. The physical education teacher at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, Calif., might have shifted her priorities in life, but that doesn’t mean making the U.S. team has taken a backseat.

“She’s never been better,” Altig said. “She makes saves where people are like, ‘She shouldn’t have made that.’ But Liz Hogan makes that.”

The evolution of Liz Hogan has been a steady progression through life, not unlike many others who have experienced disappointment before picking themselves up off the floor. But while some just go on living, Hogan makes a conscious effort to live life to its fullest and embrace everything that makes her unique.

In a 2018 column published by Inside Lacrosse, Hogan wrote the words that she now essentially lives by: “Just be you, everyone else is already taken.” The column was about being openly gay in sports, but her words transcend the boundaries of a lacrosse field.

“Since Liz was in college, her overall happiness and joy for life and her confidence and self-assurance have gone up so much,” Koch said. “Just to see her evolve and to see this fully confident person in who she is has been wonderful to watch.”

With Wills’ retirement, Gussie Johns is the lone returner at the goalie position. Hogan is in the mix with Sam Giacolone, Caylee Waters, Molly Dougherty and Angie Benson. Although she has her sights set on representing the U.S. at the 2021 World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in Towson, Md., Hogan talks like someone who will be at peace with whatever happens. 

She’s confident and comfortable. She won’t be tense at the tryout. She’ll still crack possibly terrible jokes and look to mentor the next generation of U.S. stars, all while doing everything she can to make the team.

That’s just who she is.

“Once you put that helmet on,” Hogan said, “you can be whoever you want to be.”