Lisa Grohn

Maxime Bost-Brown '17

As a three-sport athlete, Lisa Grohn ’17 has been invaluable to the St. Lawrence University women's cross country and track and field teams.

She’s been a consistent performer for the Saints since her first cross country race, when she finished fifth at the Cardinal Classic at Plattsburgh. She was the Liberty League Rookie of the Year in cross country in 2013. She’s a three-time All-America selection, earning the distinction once in cross country, once in indoor track and once in outdoor track. She’s a three-time First-Team All-Liberty League performer in cross country and owns five Liberty League and three New York State Collegiate Track Conference titles in track.

But the training and racing came to a screeching halt the first weekend in October of her senior year, when Lisa suffered a stress fracture after posting a personal best time in a 6K cross country race. The injury prevented her from competing in the championship season in cross country and kept her on the sidelines during the entire indoor season.

While recuperating, she decided to revisit a friend that she made during her first year at St. Lawrence. Originally from Branchburg, New Jersey, and raised in a family that was dedicated to their local Presbyterian church, Lisa began attending the First Presbyterian Church in Canton and, almost immediately, forged a bond with longtime churchgoer, Lewis Shepherd, who will turn 90 this summer.

In addition to their presbyterian faith, the unlikely pair—separated by nearly seven decades—found something else they had in common: a love for Scrabble.

“He asked me if I wanted to play,” Lisa recalls. “Let’s just say my Scrabble skills have improved a lot over the years. Now, I always win.”

Besides playing the classic board game, Lisa and Lew discuss a wide range of topics, from health and fitness to politics to food. She sees Lew working out at the Stafford Fitness Center or swimming in the Augsbury pool while she completes her rehabilitation.

“He’s kind of a health nut,” Lisa jokes. “Since I’m always looking for ways to improve my running, nutrition is a large part of that. And Lew has taught me a lot about nutrition.”

She has even been adventurous enough to try some of his so-called “concoctions.”

“He makes something similar to yogurt,” she says. “He calls it Lew-gurt.”

Their friendship has allowed Lisa to break out of what she calls the “SLU Bubble,” even if just for a short while. Now a senior, and realizing that her time at St. Lawrence is coming to an end, Lisa was determined to keep a campus connection to Lew and to the Presbyterian church. So, she started bringing Eliza Maher ’20, a teammate from Geneva, New York,  with her on her Sunday visits with Lew.

Perhaps with Lew’s health and fitness insights, along with a sustained sense of competition through intense Scrabble battles, Lisa will find a way back on the track. Despite her injury, she is determined to return to her love of racing.

“I’m working really hard in the pool and with the trainers,” she says. “I’ll be back faster than ever.”