SPRINGFIELD — When Isabella DiLisio walked onto Notre Dame campus for the first time back in late September she knew there was no other school she'd rather attend. Much as it was her decision to attend Mount St. Joseph Academy during her high school years, to play for the Fighting Irish women's golf team was her dream.
On Wednesday evening, DiLisio, The Times Herald's first female Golfer of the Year, had her dream come true when she verbally committed to Notre Dame University.
And she's just 16-years-old.
"For most of my life I've played golf, I didn't start as early as some people, but right when I started I knew I wanted to play it for the rest of my life,' said DiLisio, who first picked up the clubs when she was nine.
Paying a visit to South Bend, Ind., in September with her family to catch the Oklahoma versus Notre Dame football game, DiLisio had the opportunity to meet the team, the coaches, tour the winter facilities and take a cart around the golf course. And when it was all said and done, she didn't want to leave.
"It was just so pretty, so nice, random people will walk by you and say, ' Welcome to Notre Dame,'' DiLisio said. "I knew I liked it as soon as I got there.'
In addition to meeting the team and the coaching staff during her visit, DiLisio will be joined by fellow MSJ golfer Alison Snakard, who will walk onto the team this coming season.
"Once she said she made the team, it made me want to go even more, she's been one of my best friends since freshman year,' DiLisio said.
On the team, DiLisio is familiar with Irish golfer Jordan Ferreira from Bellarmine Prepatory School in Tacoma, Wash., as well as hearing about other girls on the team. In the ACC, her Notre Dame squad will be facing some of the top NCAA competition across the nation and she couldn't be more excited.
"In preparation I'm going to do a lot of the same things as I normally would,' DiLisio said, who is only halfway through her junior year in high school. "But, I plan to play I more amateur events, the type of tournaments that college players play.'
Obviously, committing to a sought-after college is a huge relief for any high schooler, but for DiLisio, to play in college has been a dream. She plans to study something in the realm of business, marketing or finance, and while the decision is still up in the air, she has more than enough time to prepare.
"Right now I'm just trying to win tournaments and prepare for college,' DiLisio said. "It's all just stepping stones.
Working towards the Ladies Professional Golfers' Association is inevitable in playing at the Division-I level in college, but DiLisio isn't getting ahead of herself. After all, she still has her high school state championship to defend.
"This year I won't have to worry about the coaches watching me, because I already know where I'm going,' DiLisio said. "I want to play well this year, improve my game and be the best I can before I go there.'