April 23, 2001
By Janette Ruiz
Tallahassee, FL - Seminole shortstop Natalie Bennett is a person who sets lofty goals for herself and strives to achieve them. She hopes that people view her as a person who is just as consistent off the field as she is on it.
Bennett has started every game since she came to FSU last season. She is one of only three Seminoles to start the last 129 games and she is an anchor in the middle of the FSU defense.
"I hope that people would think of me as someone who came and tried to give it her all no matter what," she said.
Bennett transferred to Florida State after playing softball for two seasons at Drake University. She encountered many difficult obstacles at Drake due to the firing of her first coach and growing dissention amongst her teammates. As the situation worsened and Natalie became unhappier, she decided to make the move from Illinois to Tallahassee.
"It was a really hard situation," said Bennett. "I decided to come to FSU in a matter of weeks. I was going to stay at Drake, but I wasn't totally happy there. There was a lot of tension between half of the team and the coach and some people didn't want to bring the necessary work ethic to the field. That part of it was awful and it was starting to effect everything else."
Natalie knew what was right in her heart and through God she discovered what she needed to do.
"I trusted God to kind of lead me where I am going to go," she said. "Even though I no idea what it was going to be like, it was the absolute best thing for me."
Not only did Bennett have to consider her athletic career but she also had to consider how her transfer would affect her academic career. At Drake, Natalie was double majoring in and math education. When she transferred to FSU, she decided to only pursue her degree. Bennett has always loved math and she has never turned away from a challenge.
"I have always loved math since I was tiny, " she said. "It always interested me. Plus, I knew it would be a challenge."
Bennett's life was significantly changing but through it all she had the support of her fiancÚ, Jason, whom she met at Drake. His complete support of her decision made Natalie's transfer to FSU much easier.
"He transferred here after I did, which has been really awesome," said Bennett. "Since I'm so far away from home and my family, it is great to have him here."
Jason constantly supports Natalie and is her best friend. He is in the stands at every game and his support is more than Natalie could ever ask for.
"My fiancÚ is really stable and that is important since my life is so hectic between school and softball," said Bennett. "I think he has calmed me down a lot and made me more relaxed about things. As a player, my engagement has not changed me at all, but as a person it has because he is a major part of my life now."
Natalie's wedding is scheduled for the summer of 2002 and after graduation she plans on getting her master's in education to pursue a career in teaching math. Although she's not sure where she will pursue her Master's she does have a plan for her future.
"My fiancÚ and I are moving to Chicago so I'll be there for a year," said Bennett. "Then I am going to move back home to be close to my family. We like the St. Louis area, so hopefully I'll teach high school and coach softball. Maybe basketball, too."
Wherever Natalie ends up and whatever the future holds for her, she is sure that she will be better off for having played softball. She believes the lessons she learned from being part of a team will carry over into other areas of her life.
"Being part of a team taught me how work with so many different personalities and different people," said Bennett. "When you are part of a team you learn to put aside whatever home life you might have and come together to make things work on the field, especially this team. You can have 20 different personalities but when you get on the field you are all working towards one goal. I think that will help me when I begin my career."
When it is all said and done, Natalie will be on her way back home to Illinois but she will never forget the lesson she learned and the friendships she made at Florida State. She will be leaving behind a lot of things and some will be harder to leave than others.
"The hardest thing for me is leaving my friends," she said. "I met a lot of awesome people here. I will miss the bond that I have with my teammates because we worked so hard together everyday."
Softball has always been a huge part of Natalie's life so what will life after softball be like for this dedicated athlete.
"I play more for fun," she said. "I will miss the game more than anything, but I am ready for a different stage in my life."