During these past three years, I’ve had the honor of wearing the four-letter word U-C-L-A across the front of my chest. I started playing softball at the age of five. The coaches I played for growing up truly impacted me and saw great potential in me. I’d always looked up to Natasha because she was one of the few people on TV I saw excelling in the sport that looked like me. I carried this inspiration and drive with me throughout my collegiate career at UCLA. Being able to win a National Championship Title with my team was one of the best days of my life. I felt a sense of validation that all the sacrifices and hard work from the age of five had finally paid off.
I have learned so much these past summers mentoring the young girls of Baldwin Park. They have made a lasting impact on me by sharing their personal stories and by trusting me to give them advice not only regarding softball but in life. Coming to practices every week and seeing the huge smiles on their faces because they did well on a test at school, or they finally learned how to do a backhand was what made me enjoy every single moment with them. Their eagerness to learn and get better relit that fire inside me to continue to improve myself. The most important thing I instilled in my team was that it is first important to be a good teammate. Attitude and effort are the only thing in the game that you can control, once they learned that, they were able to open themselves up to more opportunity on and off the field.
I have always wanted to be a positive role model to others. Being on Honor Roll every year at UCLA is something that I am very proud of and encourage others to value. I’ve always believed that it does not matter how talented of an athlete you are if your grades are not up to par. By having a solid GPA it opens up several doors to further your education and future opportunities.
I would like to thank everyone from the Natasha Watley Foundation for inspiring girls around the world and giving them an opportunity to learn and love the game.