International Softball star and two-time Olympian Natasha Watley visited the campus of View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School to help celebrate the inception of their softball team.
Last school year, sophomore Camille Taylor, senior Bianca Rodriguez and football player Ja’Juan Johnson collected 60 names of View Park students that were interested in a baseball and softball team, according to Robert Ambers, the Athletics Coordinator of ICEF Public Schools.
“We are truly, truly blessed today,” Ambers said to the View Park students in attendance. “We had some young ladies, Bianca, Ja’Juan, they provided a list to me last year to say: hey coach, we want to start baseball and softball.”
Watley visited to speak about her journey as an athlete and met the young women that wanted to join the softball team. In her speech, Watley told students the importance of following their passions and setting themselves apart when perusing higher education. Watley expressed that she was happy to visit View Park to ensure the students “are creating a masterpiece every single day.”
“What is it that you are doing every single day to separate yourself from the person next to you?” Watley asked the crowd of View Park students assembled to see her.
Watley then had a Q&A session with all the girls that were interested playing softball. When talking with perspective softball players, they discussed several topics including her softball career in Japan and tips on the sport.
“Never in a million years did I think that I would be playing softball in a foreign country,” Watley said to the aspiring softball players. “Just don’t know what’s ahead of you and you don’t know where things may lead you.”
Watley, an Irvine native, attended UCLA and played as shortstop for the Bruins softball team. During her senior year, she was named the Collegiate Women Athlete of the Year. That award is the highest given by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards, according to UCLA Athletics.
In 2004 and 2008, Watley earned her place on the USA Softball team for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Team USA would earn a gold medal in 2004 and silver in Beijing in 2008.
The International Olympic committee voted out Softball for the 2012 and 2016 Games, according to ESPN. However, Watley went overseas to play for Team Toyota in Japan.
“That’s probably been one of my most life changing moments,” Watley said. “I’ve been there the last seven years.”
Watley had also played for National Pro Fastpitch, the professional Softball League in America, according to the League website.
View Park has not yet hired a coach for the team, according to the ICEF. Wately is excited for the students and wants to keep up with the team.
“Just hearing the story of two girls getting a petition together, I just think that shows strength,” Watley said. “It’s just empowering to hear that these two young women getting a whole bunch of other young ladies excited about the sport that I love.”