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Athlete of the Week: Natalie Bartle

Bartle makes a comeback after breaking her foot
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 10:03 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) -Championships, underdogs, glory and defeat. Just some words to describe the world of sports. But some may say one of the best things about sports, are the comeback stories. Natalie Bartle endured a terrible injury and is now part of the starting five.

First year as a student athlete at a Division II college can be exciting; looking to get your feet on the ground and make a name for yourself. But at the end of her freshman year, the Michigan native took a fall breaking her sesamoid bone in her foot. She decided to forego surgery, forcing her to forfeit her sophomore season.

“I saw a couple different doctors and ended up getting different answers. I ended up deciding that the risk of the surgery was just too high,” says Natalie Bartle.

This year, Natalie was out for two games after a collision against Black Hills State, hyperextending her right arm.

“During the game I don’t even notice anything. After practices or after a game, it gets a little sore but never anything extreme.”

She now wears an insert in her shoe to ease the pain, but none of it fazes her. In her first game back, she scored 17 points. The redshirt sophomore is now one of the top ten leading scorers in the RMAC.

“The girl’s a frustrated guarder because she can go and get a basket at any time. She may have to grind it out a little bit this year. She’s putting everything out there and as a coach, all you can do is appreciate that,” says Head Coach, Taylor Wagner.

Her biggest game, was a career high of 32 points against CSU Pueblo where she also got her first double-double with 11 rebounds. But driving to the hoop isn’t the only place she shines. Natalie averages 77% at the free-throw line and at the beginning of January, she was the national leader in free throw attempts; a category Natalie says gets looked over.

She may not be 100%, but you wouldn’t know she was injured if you saw her on the court.

“Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to pretty much work around not being able to use my shooting arm like i have my whole life and it’s kind of weird. It’s definitely different.”

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