If someone were to tell my younger self who they end up being all these years later, they’d be excited and grateful. To the younger Natalie, who was unsure of her future and even more unsure of her capabilities for this competitive world, I’m proud to say that we’ve been working hard and most of your worries have been solved by a growth mindset and a drive for achieving your goals you never thought you could accomplish years ago.
I’d be excited to know that I found my passion for the future. That I finally took upon that calling of giving back to the community and let myself pursue a career I knew I always wanted to be in. I’d be grateful to know that I was able to build confidence in myself and love who I am.
When reflecting these four years, the main thing that comes to mind is thanking those who were there for me.
To know that I had a friend who was with me every big swim meet and other friends who gave me much needed snacks the week of the newspaper submissions. I appreciated it all from them. I learned how to laugh and love from these friends and the moments we shared. I’ll never forget the teachers too, who instilled confidence in me and fueled my passions. I truly thank you for supporting and inspiring me.
To the swim and water polo team who became a second family to me. I couldn’t imagine four years without them. I loved how every teammate brought their individual quirkiness to the team. I loved the cheesy jokes and endless excitement that everyone brought to practice; it was never a dull day. I can give a list of reasons for each one of my teammates and their values to the teams; I hope you all knew how important you were to me.
A big thank you to my coaches on these teams. Coach Pat, who’s been getting me out of my comfort zone and believing in me for as long as I can remember. Coach Cassidy, who’s been the loudest supporter and most enthusiastic coach I’ve been blessed to have. To my friend Clare, who became my mentor in leading a team and the most reliable friend I always knew I could count on. I know I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without these people who encouraged and believed in me these past four years.
I wanted to say a final thank you to the teams that I loved so much. Thank you for believing in me as a captain to lead you and thank you for brightening my day, every day, at practice.
I was blessed to have a family that had the mindset of working hard despite any barriers. To my Mom, you were my number one supporter. Every nerve wracking competition, interview, or event, I always knew that you’d support me regardless of the outcome. You knew I had the capability to be successful and confident even when I didn’t believe that myself. You were always there when I cried or celebrated, won or lost, I was always a winner to you.
To my Dad, you worked hard every day to make sure that my sisters and I were able to succeed. I learned to make a name for myself and be a proud Mangskau from you. I learned to be humble and forgiving, but also to not let anyone bring you down. I know you raised three daughters who are tough and have pride in who they are. Nothing is going to change us from that.
To close my reflection, I knew I had to end it with these two. If I had to thank anyone most it’d be to my sisters, Madison and Jordan, who were my lifelong support system and encouragement. I knew I was never alone because I had them with me every step of the way.