Student Before An Athlete: Abernathy Commits To Davidson

On Monday, Land O' Lakes senior, Natalie Abernathy, announced her commitment to continue her academic and athletic careers at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. 

Falling For Davidson

The standout senior toured the Davidson campus in July of 2017 and was immediately captivated by the elegant architecture and friendly community -- the challenging academics and athletic programs ultimately sealed the deal for Abernathy. 

"Each individual I encountered on campus made me feel appreciated and welcomed. During my visit, I developed great respect for the challenging academics and athletics at Davidson," Abernathy said. 

Fast forward a year later, Abernathy visited the Davidson campus again and the Recruiting Coordinator and Assistant Coach, Brian Doyle, led Abernathy on a campus tour, from an athlete's perspective.

"I noticed how well the athletes were cared for, and I loved the trails on campus." 

The future veterinarian, took her official visit in September where she was able to meet the team, attend a class, and meet Dr. Karen Bernd, a professor in the biology department at Davidson. 

The Ins and Outs of A Collegiate Program

Abernathy is one of the top 5 seniors in the state, top 15 across all classifications, and has a chance at an individual state title in class 3A this cross country season. It is no surprise that she will continue her athletic career at the next level. 

"I value having a positive coach who believes in my abilities as a runner as much as I do. When I met Coach Straub and Coach Doyle, I realized they were very passionate about coaching and understood the importance of individualizing training for each runner," Abernathy said. 

Community is something Abernathy values. She wanted a team of runners that encourage and support one another. She wanted to be part of a team that competes at a high level. 

The Recruiting Process: Develop a Plan

The recruiting season can be daunting. As a senior you are thrown information your way left and right and it can be difficult to make such a long lasting decision. Abernathy developed a plan that helped her through this process. 

"I believe it is very important to keep all coaches informed about your progress as both a student and as an athlete. After each race, inform the coaches about your showing at the race," said Abernathy. "By keeping coaches informed, you are helping them to see your strengths as a runner." 

Abernathy would take notes about her experiences after her visits so she could stay organized and make the right decision for her future academic and athletic careers. 

"I have learned that I am a student before an athlete," said Abernathy. "It is critical to challenge yourself in school to attend a great college." 

The Land O' Lakes senior will graduate with an International Baccalaureate (IB) distinction in 2019.

"Learning to balance my academics and athletics in high school prepared me for my future as a Davidson student-athlete," Abernathy said.  

Abernathy will join a stellar team in the Atlantic 10 conference coached by Jen Straub and Brian Doyle. She will join a group of women that continue to rise in the A-10 conference and will be challenged academically and athletically. 

Everyone's running journey has its highs and lows, Abernathy has learned to train with a positive mindset to develop grit so she can turn her dreams into realities. 

"If you have a passion, then pursue it," Abernathy said. "Have the confidence to step out of your comfort zone."

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