Feet hit the pavement as her heartbeat increases and arms and legs work in sync. At a steady pace, Natalie Ball, junior exercise science major, uses this rhythm to pursue her goals at California Baptist University on the cross country and track teams.
Ball transferred to CBU from Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., in fall 2012.
In her first season running track at CBU, Ball set the school record for women’s outdoor track in the 1500-meter race, finishing in 4:39.19. She also holds the third fastest time in school history for the 800m race at 2:14.72.
“Natalie is an extremely hard worker and that work ethic is contagious,” said Lucas Graham, sophomore kinesiology major and track runner.
Ball’s passion for running and dedication to track began in junior high. While many students dread the mile test, this is where Ball discovered an aptitude for running in her physical education class.
“I would always just try to get (P.E. testing) over with so I would run decently fast,” Ball said.
In her very first track meet, Ball placed first in the 800-meter race and came in second during the 400m-meter sprint. Although this set the pace for her high school running career, she also experienced her share of adversity.
During her sophomore year of high school, Ball suffered a hip injury. While the injury affected her season that year, it proved to be the spark for her interest in sports medicine. Ball aspires to attend physical therapy school after graduating and continue in her passion for athletics.
“Honestly, when I got injured, I didn’t know that (it) was going to determine my career,” Ball said.
Ball explained how her physical therapist helped her recover and compete at her full potential. She said the positive impact her physical therapist had on her influenced her decision to become a physical therapist.
As an athlete, she said knowing firsthand the disappointment of not being able to compete and what the lifestyle of an athlete demands would help her relate to her patients.
“You want to help other people get back to where they were at (prior to their injury) and achieve their goals for the season,” she said.
With eight meets left in the track season before playoffs, Ball will next compete with her team April 4 in San Francisco.