Natalie was a star shortstop at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She made the Bandits after an open tryout and has been producing ever since. Sometimes, she is called a "utility" player, because of her versatility, but last season, she was seventh on the team in games started, games played and at bats, which basically means she was a regular starter, just at a few different positions.
Her versatility (and her attitude about it) shows the type of professional that Natalie is. She is all about the team. It has been a pleasure watching her develop over the last four seasons and even more of a pleasure to speak to her and know her a bit. She's an elite athlete, a great role model and a fine young woman.
In our interview below, I asked Natalie about playing so many positions. As expected, her answer showed her the athlete mindset which makes her special.
Since I have interviewed Natalie a few times before and since there is one very special fan of Natalie, I did something a little different with this interview. I asked superfan and young softball player MacKenzie Parker (the subject of yesterday's Friendly Encounters piece) to submit a couple questions for Natalie. Kenzie was more than up for the challenge, giving me two excellent questions. Natalie was happy to answer the questions and to follow up with a little discussion on what fans like Kenzie mean to her.
I really enjoyed this interview and "working" with Kenzie. This is a perfect example of the best parts of the NPF and the Bandits. This is just one reason why I love doing what I do. I hope one day to be able to interview Kenzie as a Bandit.
Natalie is a great example of the quality of athlete and person playing for the Bandits. They truly are a great team on and off the field. Go to ChicagoBandits.com for more info and go to a game for a lot more fun!
As always, I thank the Chicago Bandits for their hospitality and allowing me access. I also thank Natalie for her time and consideration over the last four seasons!
Finally, thank you to Kenzie and her family for helping me with this! Keep up the great work, Kenzie. You're going to do fantastic things in life.