Graduating college is hard enough to think about, but leaving teammates as well is even tougher. Just ask Natalie Ballato. Natalie is currently a senior and captain of the Cortland women’s soccer team. She played soccer before college, and continued throughout all of her years at Cortland. The other day, I got the chance to interview Natalie after the team’s senior game. Playing on a team in college is not just about the competitive side of it, you basically become a family.
How long have you played soccer?
“Since I was three years old, so for 18 years!”
What made you want to play for the Cortland team?
“One of the assistant coaches recruited me when I was a junior in high school so I started my research. I came for an overnight visit and I loved the team atmosphere and the athletic facilities were amazing. I knew at that moment I wanted to come to Cortland.”
What was your fondest memory while playing on the Cortland team?
“My favorite memory is making it to the SUNYAC finals freshman year. Although we lost in the last 57 seconds it was such a cool experience especially since it was during my first year on the team.”
Did you face any challenges while being a part of the team?
“I think most of the challenges I faced came along with my role as a captain. Especially my junior year being the only captain on the team was a challenge at it self. Just being on top of everybody at all times, making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing gets hard sometimes. Even though it’s a tough role, I really do enjoy being a captain and knowing that my teammates can come to me for anything that they need.”
Do you have any pregame routine?
“For me personally I am very superstitious before games. From the way I put my shin guards on, the way I roll my socks up, the way I fold my jersey up to fit in my bag, and the way I tie my cleats all have to be the same before each game. For the team, we have a few team routines before games. We each have to throw a soccer all at a certain wall in the locker room before each game. We also have a team chant that we do before we go out to the field.”
Who were your biggest supporters?
“My biggest supporters were my mom and sisters. They traveled up to Cortland all the way from Long Island almost every weekend just to watch me play. They sat through some brutal weather for some of my games too.”
What are you going to miss the most about the team after you graduate?
“I’m going to miss my teammates. They’ve basically have become my second family so I know we will keep in touch even after I graduate. But, just being a part of a team is something that I’m really going to miss. The group of girls especially this year. We are all so close on and off the field and I don’t want this season to ever end.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshman who would like to tryout for the team?
“I would say give 100% effort at all times. Even if you don’t think you are as talented as some of the other players, nothing beats hard work and positive attitudes.”
Thank you Natalie for taking the time to make this interview happen, and best of luck!