Overcoming challenges to achieve personal and team goals.
Natalie Kutzli is a health science pre-physical therapy major from Hudsonville, Michigan. She is a pentathlete specializing in discus.
by Natalie Kutzli
Throughout my many years as a student athlete, I have experienced both good times and bad, yet through it all, discipline, focus, determination and faith have brought me to where I am today.
I came from a big high school near Grand Rapids named Hudsonville. At that school, they had all the facilities you could imagine—a new track, three shot circles, two discus circles, pole vault pits, a high jump mat, four long jump pits and a brand new weight room. The list could go on.
Much different from Rochester University where I run on a middle school track and throw in a parking lot. The point of me telling you this was not to talk poorly about Rochester University or the opportunity that I am so grateful for but to tell you that you too can persevere and accomplish your dreams with minimal facilities or equipment.
I knew what I was getting into when I signed for RU. My dream of becoming a Division I athlete was gone. It turned into me wanting to be a part of something greater than myself, to show the state that RU’s track team wasn’t going to be quiet anymore and is a force to be reckoned with.
Why I chose RU
On this track team, I am not just another body. The most amazing, beautiful part of it is that I am not alone. Every one of us on the track team share that goal, that bond, and that is what makes us stand out from the rest of the schools. This is why I chose and love RU. Throughout my two and a half years here, I have accomplished many things with minimal resources.
In my freshman year, I placed eighth in the 2019 indoor conference for the weight throw, even though my first time touching a weight was in fall 2019. My spring season was cut short due to COVID, so I was not able to accomplish my freshman goal of breaking the school discus record. I was more determined than ever to accomplish my goals. During that quarantine, I trained like mad. My sophomore season approached quickly. This was the year I started trying other events.
My first time ever doing long jump in college was at a track meet, believe it or not. I had not practiced, and I broke the school record, which was apparently one of the oldest school records at RU! At the indoor conference of 2020, I placed eighth in weight again. In the first meet of the outdoor season, I broke the school record in discus, but I wanted more. I kept training, it didn’t matter the weather conditions or how tired I was.
Discipline, focus, determination, faith
My four-word mantra repeated in my head, discipline, focus, determination, faith.
With the outdoor conference approaching quickly, I continued to push my body to its limits, signing up for things the team needed. I was always pushing for the ultimate goal of being a part of something bigger than myself. I ended up placing sixth in the conference for discus.
Not what I wanted, but it didn’t matter the number I placed, I knew I had improved dramatically with each throw, even if my place in the conference did not prove it.
It was the fact that every throw was farther than the last. Each time I let the disc go, I felt it fly farther, higher, faster, stronger. Yet I went out of the sector. I am not going to blame my performance on the constant downpour of rain for over five hours, or the fact that the discus ring was as slick as ice. I used this experience as motivation—to stay hungry and to never give up my ultimate dream. To make RU’s voice heard.
I ended my sophomore year as team MVP; I received RU’s Athlete of the Year award in 2021; and I was nominated for outdoor team captain.
This year I am participating in the pentathlon, which consists of the 60m hurdles, 800m run, long jump, high jump and shot put. I am more excited than ever to let the conference know what RU is all about and what we stand for. Go Warriors!