Keeping basketball within the family

A person’s family can have one of the greatest impacts on their life. Many times their influence goes farther than any other. For Natacia Watkins, growing up in a family where basketball was ever-present is the reason she decided to pick up a ball.

“My whole family plays basketball,” Watkins said. “My dad played in college for a little bit and I have an older brother and sister that played. I guess it just rubbed off on me.”

Basketball was one of the things her family gave her that stuck with her. Watkins is now in her second year as a guard/forward for Eastern Michigan University. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the sport for Natacia is “driving it to
the hole.” But being around her teammates makes it all the more enjoyable.

“How we bond and get along,” Natacia said. “We’re like one big family. We joke around and play, everything like that.”
Watkins was raised in South Euclid, Ohio, where she graduated from Charles F. Brush High School. While there, she was named the team’s most valuable player in her sophomore, junior and senior years. She earned All-Ohio honorable mention and Northeast Ohio Conference second-team selection in both her sophomore and junior years.

In her final season at Brush, Watkins averaged 16.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.4 assists and 2.5 blocks per game, while also reaching the 1,000 career-points mark. At the end of the season, she was awarded Northeast Ohio Conference first-team honors and named The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Player of the Year.

Watkins was recruited by a number of schools but the only school she really considered as an option for herself was Eastern.
“When I came on my visit I just felt like I was at home,” Natacia said. “I loved the team, I loved the coaches and I liked the school too; it was a nice school. Just everything about it, I liked.”

In her first season as an Eagle, Watkins played in 21 of the team’s contests, making one start. She averaged 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game and made a name for herself as a versatile member of the squad. She posted a season-high eight points, five rebounds and two assists on Jan. 26, 2011 against Ohio University.

“She is very athletic when it comes to playing D, which she does,” teammate Desyree Thomas said. “She’s very long and athletic so it helps us on both ends of the court.”

So far this year, Watkins has started in all of EMU’s contests. She averages 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. She has also blocked a total of five shots. Aside from the spark of energy she can provide this team at any given time, her caring personality is another feature of her game in her teammate’s eyes.

“She’s a caring person, and it translates onto the court as well,” Thomas said. “You know if you’re on the court with her she has your back.”

In the past few years, Natacia has picked up a rather unique hobby. Every time she spends a night in a hotel she keeps the card, writes where she got it from on it and collects hotel cards from all the places she’s been.

“Tachia’s a nerd,” Thomas said. “Her major is Simulations, Animations and Gaming. Most people don’t get to see that side of her, but Tachia’s a nerd.”

After graduating, Natacia’s dream job would be working for animation company Pixar. However, if that doesn’t work out she would not mind taking a job as an AAU coach, referee or playing professional basketball overseas.

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