Getting to know...Lisa DeFreitas
Soccer mom. Theater mom. Wofford mom. These are the three things that make Lisa DeFreitas who she is, and she’s passionate about all three.
DeFreitas, director of annual giving at Wofford, first came to the campus after a seven hour drive from Huntsville, Ala. She was looking for a college to attend, and that college needed to have two things, the right number of students and two goalposts.
“It was pretty far from home, but I picked Wofford because I had gone to a small private high school and was comfortable with the size of the school. That, and I really wanted a school with football. I know that sounds crazy, but my high school didn’t have football and I’ve always been a huge fan. I grew up going to all the Alabama games. Roll Tide is a way of life.
“When I got here, I really fell in love with the people and the campus, and it was just the right fit. Obviously, since I’ve been here a pretty long time now.”
She graduated in 1988, and for one year she worked in radio sales in Greenville. But she maintained her Wofford ties as the cheerleading coach (she’s a former cheerleader herself), and when a job in fund raising came open, back to Wofford it was. That was 20 years ago.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about fund raising or annual giving, but I came in as the assistant director and did that for six years,” she says. “Then I had the opportunity to take over as Director of Annual Giving.
“The really fun thing about it is staying in touch with so many people. They tell you what they loved about Wofford and it constantly renews your faith in what’s good about this place. It’s fun talking to the successful older alums, but it’s also fun getting to meet the really young alum who is struggling to get by but still gives us $25 because it’s important to him or her.”
When Lisa married fellow Wofford alum Pablo DeFreitas (’87), she married into a sport that she happened to cheer for in high school. Soccer is now a way of life in her household, and it’s way too late to change that.
“When I dated my future husband, I went to a lot of Wofford soccer games,” she says. “Now I’ve got two soccer playing children (Deanna, 16, and Tanner, 14), as well. I kid some of my friends that you should never allow your children to play club soccer because it becomes all consuming. Because of soccer, Thanksgiving was the first weekend we all spent at home since the end of August.
“I spend a lot of time on the soccer field, even though I never played myself.”
One thing she has done herself is perform in the theater. In fact, the DeFreitas clan is becoming the Barrymores of Spartanburg. Lisa got the bug from her parents and has passed it along to her daughter.
“I got into theater through the back door,” says DeFreitas, who now serves on the youth theater board in Spartanburg. “I had done it a little bit growing up because my father was very involved in it. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of lost that in college because I was focused on cheering and other things.
“Then my daughter showed an interest. Soon I met a group of women who are not only involved in the theater, but they do a dance class a couple of nights a week. They get together and work on all different kinds of dancing. It’s a ton of fun and also a great workout. I’ve done a number of shows with them, and that’s what got me back into theater.”
DeFreitas’ parents moved to Spartanburg about five years ago. Dad, mom, Lisa and Deanna have performed in the show State Fair together at the Spartanburg Little Theater. Lisa has done other shows, too.
“Cabaret was probably my favorite show that I’ve done to date,” she says. “I did that one a couple of years ago. It seems quirky and outlandish at first glance, but it has a timeless message about acceptance.”
With everyone else in the family playing soccer, it’s only fair that DeFreitas get her kicks in when and where she can.