Natalie Huggins has spent the past four years giving the Energizer Bunny a run for its money.
The Colonel Crawford graduate was a four-year starter and first baseman for the Ursuline College softball team, an NCAA Division II program in Pepper Pike, but that’s not all. Huggins was a resident assistant, a tour guide and acted in school plays while boasting a 3.69 GPA — averaging at least 18 credit hours per semester — and that’s just the CliffNotes version.
Huggins’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed, and at the end of the spring semester the daughter of long-time Eagles coach Chuck Huggins was named the Great Midwest Athletic Conference female scholar-athlete of the year. Her academic and athletic efforts have also been recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association since her sophomore season with scholar-athlete honors.
“I had no idea that our athletic department had even nominated me at all, and when I found out I won it was near the end of the semester during finals week. It just really showed me that the hard work has paid off the last four years,” Huggins said. “It’s been such a long journey over the past four years there and I’m trying to make myself marketable, and it was kind of a moment where I realized: ‘Wow.’ It’s paid off. It’s almost like this time I can pat myself on the back.”
Since the end of the semester, Huggins has finally had a moment to breathe for the first time since she stepped foot on Ursuline’s campus, but the break won’t last long.
This winter Huggins will graduate with four degrees, including Adolescent to Young Adult Licensure in Language Arts, AYA Liscensure in Mathematics, English and Math. She’ll be student teaching at Wynford in the fall with eighth grade Language Arts teacher Krista Richmond and high school math teacher Michael Hurles. She’s also received the NCAA Division II Degree Completion Scholarship to help her finish her studies. The award is given to students that have run out of athletic eligibility, but still have work left in order to earn their degree.
“You could only nominate one (athlete per school), and it was a really big honor as well,” Huggins said. “I was blown away with everyone helping at my school. The Financial Aid Department, academic advisers, the athletic director, my softball coach. …They filled everything out within two days.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Ursuline. It’s almost like Colonel Crawford, where if you really get involved and get yourself known by just a few people, a lot of people will know you, and I truly know that all of those people — not just friends but professionals, supervisors — I’ll keep in touch with them forever.”
Huggins’ summer break hasn’t been all rest and relaxation.
She’s kept busy by coaching Colonel Crawford’s 15 and under softball team with former Eagles teammate Kelsey Brown. The girls upset No. 1 seed Shelby in the Mid-Ohio Fast Pitch League tournament Wednesday night before falling to Madison in nine innings to end their season. Huggins has also been working at the Bucyrus Golf Course, and said she’ll be assisting her father with the Colonel Crawford softball team this spring, with aspirations to become both a teacher and coach herself one day.
“He’s always been such a good role model for coaching, and it’s hard to believe how respected and how well-liked and successful (my dad) is,” Huggins said. “He’s shown me every side of coaching, good and bad. It’s encouraging for me to see what it’s like from one of the best.”