Up Close & Personal with Natalie Burns

Today we begin a series of Up Close & Personal interviews with the Lees-McRae women's volleyball team. First up for the Lady Bobcats is the lone senior on the squad, Natalie Burns. The 5'10 native of Orlando, Florida, is a strong leader for the team both on and off the court. Join us as we get to know her a bit better.

1. What made you decide to come to Lees-McRae College? I came to Lees-McRae for the gorgeous location in the mountains (especially for the snowboarding), and, of course, the volleyball program but most importantly for my educational field-biology. I am majoring in Pre-Veterinarian Medicine with a minor in Wildlife Rehabilitation.

2. What are you most looking forward to this season? This season I am looking to win the 11th straight conference championship and continue through to nationals. I am also excited to give everything I'vd got for my senior year.

3. In which part of the game does your strength lie? My strength is within the team, because together with my teammates we win championships. This is a team sport!

4. What do you do to prepare yourself for matches? I give everything I have in practices, because you practice the way you play. I train hard in the off season because this time is most crucial to prepare for the upcoming season. And I visualize what I need to do before each game, mentally preparing myself a day in advance.

5. Who has had the biggest impact on your volleyball career? My coach Mila Serano, in Orlando, Fla. had the biggest influence on my volleyball career. She is now running her own club (Inland Volleyball) and is the assistant coach at Orangewood Christian. Mila has been there every step of the way for me from helping me find a college to go to, to giving me words of encouragement after a loss or rough tournament, to giving me private lessons when I return home. Mila has believed in me as a player from day one and has shown me where the HEART is in volleyball.

6. What is your favorite part about being a member of the Bobcat volleyball team? I love playing volleyball at a competitive level. I love traveling and getting to know the team as my second family.

7. What personal and team goals have you set for this season? This season, I personally want to achieve conference team awards and be a good leader from my team. As a team I want to leave every game knowing we did our best and have no regrets when we walk off the court. Together the Lady Bobcats need to go further than they have ever gone in the past, and as long as we believe, anything is possible.

8. What is the biggest mental challenge you face on the court Seeing a teammate give up and not being able to change their mentality to turn things around is very challenging.

9. Who has been the biggest role model in your life? How? My grandmother- she had such a great life, living everyday to the fullest. She was stylish, smart, compassionate, faithful, loving, had a beautiful marriage, and walked a spiritual path according to the Lord. Now she is my guardian angel, looking down on me every day.

10. What is your idea of a perfect afternoon? My perfect afternoon would be under the deep blue waters scuba diving on the shore of eastern Australia exploring the Great Barrier Reef!!!

11. If you could try something new today what would you try and why? I would learn a second language to benefit my world travels to come.

12. Describe your favorite dessert. Raspberry Crème' bouclé with a Godiva White Chocolate Pomegranate Martini with an orchard to top it off!