Sports

Using God-Given Talent on the Field

By Armand Butera

Entertainment Editor & Staff Writer

Kellie Natham spent her high school years firing 69 mph fastballs across the softball fields at Maranatha Christian Preparatory School in Pasadena, CA. Since then, the Los Angeles native has been continuing her career at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a decision that she considers fate.

Natham has various beliefs, not only in her abilities as an athlete but in the spiritual context as well, something brought on by her experiences at her high school. Catholicism was integrated not only in the academic side of high school, but for athletics as well.

“You would pray before all the games and your coaches, a lot of the time, would do bible studies,” said Natham.

The sophomore had taken a liking to the sport at the age of six, with the idea of playing softball piquing her interest at the age of ten with the All Star Wreck League she had joined. Natham played softball in a series of public schools before going to Maranatha , a private school with a focus on religion.

“I had grown up in a very advanced public school system but at the same time it was very different in terms of people’s values and how much they care about their education from public to private school systems,” said Natham.

While she admits that her family, who regularly attended church, kept a separation from education and faith, it was fairly easy for her to acclimate herself to Maranatha’s ways. Another transition would come later down the line, when Natham verbally committed to FDU her junior year, and eventually met KJ Kelley, a former University of Maryland coach that would make the jump over to FDU as well.

In fact, many familiar faces wound up playing softball at the Teaneck campus. Only two of the players did not come from California. But it wasn’t just her home state, or her consistent 69 mph throws that barreled down the field that landed Natham a spot on the team. It was Natham’s desire to compete in the sport of softball that caught Kelley’s attention.

“Obviously there has to be athletic ability, but I think more than anything it’s wanting to play at the next level as opposed to the necessity of a natural talent,” said Natham, “As an athlete there’s always that drive within yourself where you have high expectations and you want to compete at a standard you set for yourself.”

At Maranatha Natham was taught that everything, sports and otherwise, was for “more than yourself”, something that still holds true to her at FDU. Even with the losses the team suffered in the preseason, it has done nothing to deter her from picking herself up and patting off the dust.

“Even having played softball for so long I don’t think losses, or even wins, stick with me because there’s always  another game or another play to move on to,” said Natham.

The first basemen attributes her clear sense of direction to her career, which has continued to impress not only coaches but the crowd as well. Natham has been down in the trenches with some of the skilled softball players at FDU, all of which she is grateful to have met.

Natham embodies the “more than yourself” attitude taught at her old high school, and acts as an important cog in a powerful machine that is the softball team.

“I do think that fate exists. I’ve met some incredible people who have landed here by the same circumstance,” said Natham. “Everything ends up as it should, and I can’t picture my life without FDU.”

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