During a motivational speaking tour of inner city high schools, Natasha Watley was stunned when, in the middle of her presentation, a teenaged girl raised her hand.
I’m sorry, ma’am, but what is softball?
Realizing that the sport she loved wasn’t exactly popular, especially among inner city girls, opened Natasha’s eyes. A two–time Pan American Gold Medalist, three-time World Champion, and four-time World Cup Champion, Natasha knew that introducing girls to softball could improve their self-esteem, confidence, and social skills. She vowed to find a way to open up the world of softball to inner city girls, hoping to foster a passion for both the game and teamwork.
Soon thereafter, Natasha founded the Natasha Watley Foundation (NWF), a community service nonprofit dedicated to introducing softball to the girls of the nation’s inner cities. NWF seeks to give every girl the opportunity to fall in love with softball, providing a path to not only a sport but also an improved quality of life.
More than simply teaching young women how to play the sport, her organization provides a positive alternative to the daily struggles faced by many girls in low-income households.
Natasha joined the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame after leading the Bruins, leading to three straight Women’s College World Series and the NCAA Division 1 Softball Championship title in 2003. In 2004, Natasha played with America’s Olympic team, taking home a gold medal. In 2008, she competed again, winning a silver medal. She then continued her professional career by joining USSSA Pride and Team Toyota in Japan.
While softball played a tremendous role in Natasha’s life, she managed to balance the sport with education, graduating from UCLA, then going on to receive a Master’s Degree in Sports Business from Saint Leo University.
A true champion who has succeeded at every level she has played, Natasha now hopes to pass on her expertise in softball, team building, and leadership to the next generation of women through public speaking, coaching and her foundation.