Both physical and mental ability contribute to natural athleticism

Etta Harkness Bartholdi, Staff Writer

Physical ability, mental endurance, and the love of your sport are the essential parts of being a successful athlete.  Natural athleticism is not just being built for a sport; you also have to have the mental drive and determination to push yourself and want to succeed.
South High School is home to many great athletes but it is difficult to find one that would label themselves a natural athlete.
This can be explained by looking at how you would define a natural athlete; some, like junior and cross country runner Ben Neubecker, who defines natural athleticism as “being active since you were able to run, always be on the move and staying active.”
Others feel that athleticism is not just about physical ability but also mental determination. “It makes me salty when people think that it is just physical attributes that make you a natural athlete,” says junior and runner Clara Schultz, who also considers herself a natural athlete. “It also has to do with your mental drive to do well.”
Sophomore and cross country runner Sylvia Eisenbeis defines a natural athlete as a “strong person both physically and mentally.” This helps people understand why some of these athletes don’t see themselves as a natural athlete, because you need both physical strength and mental stamina. These are difficult guidelines to fit into, which is why its not common that successful athletes define themselves as natural athletes.
The first time you realize you are good at something is often when you find your mental drive as well, and when one’s mental strength develops.
Schultz first realized she was motivated to do well and was good at a sport was “at soccer camp we had to play a game where they needed to take the ball away and no one could take the ball away from me.”
Junior and soccer player Audrey Cuthbert first discovered her athletic talent in “third or fourth grade from my elementary school, I was the top girl athlete through elementary and in middle school.” This realization gave her lots of stamina and mental drive to continue doing sports in high school as well.
Others like sophomore and cross country athlete Laura Turner say that they consider themselves a natural athlete to an extent, but are wary to undervalue the hard work and long hours they dedicate to their activity. “I still have to put in a lot of effort,” she stated.
Senior and cross country athlete Sally Donovan, who holds the record at South for the fastest four-kilometer race with a time of 14 minutes and 59 seconds, believes that the reason she has been so successful is due to her hard work. Despite her impressive record, says that she does not consider herself a natural athlete. “No, no definitely not. The only reason I am as good as I am is because I work hard,” she said.
Donovan thinks that the most important quality in an athlete is “a good perspective; positive attitude, just to put the sport in perspective and enjoy doing it.”
Enjoying sports is a big part of natural athleticism because if you didn’t enjoy the sport you wouldn’t be motivated to work harder and get better at the sport. Junior and soccer player Carter Denison considers herself a natural athlete and not only is she physically good at soccer she also enjoys playing it, saying “soccer is something I really enjoy when I’m having a bad day I go to practice and feel better.”
To be a natural athlete you need to possess all of these things; when asked if she considered herself to be a natural athlete, Cuthbert said she possessed one of these features. In Cuthbert’s case it is the willingness to push herself.  Finding your reason to start trying harder or how to push yourself past grueling workouts is the key in having natural athleticism; it is to discover and really love what you do.
It’s hard to find someone who fits all of the categories of natural athleticism. People who are really good at sports might not be natural athletes or just fit a certain category of athleticism. You have to have physical strength, love for the sport and as junior and varsity athlete Mary Thomas puts it, “dedication and a willingness to be able to push yourself”.