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Cover of the spring 2003 SFSU magazine. Geography Professor Max Kirkeberg and students tour of San Francisco's Western Addition.


SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 3, Number 2.
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Natalia Batista, the new president of the Associated Students, sits on a set of bleachers behind the gym. She is smiling and resting her chin on her hands folded in front of her. Photo by Lui Gino de Grandis


From the Plate to the Podium
Softball Player Turned Prez Gets Vocal

Senior Natalie Batista glides into the Gator Athletics Awards Banquet. Tonight the left fielder has exchanged her SFSU women's softball uniform and cleats for a black dress and heels. Her hair is pulled into a dramatic upsweep. It's her last moment with her teammates and in similar fashion to her performances on the field this semester, Batista intends to make the most of it.

"Whenever there's an audience, I want to give them a good show," says Batista, a political science and theater arts major who enjoys writing in her journal, reading Moliere, and throwing runners out at home.

Batista ended her final season with a team-high batting average of .378 and led the Gators in hits (65), runs scored (30), doubles (12), and home runs (9). Off the field, she pursued her passion for theater with small roles in several campus plays. She received the Athletics Department's coveted Arete Award and shared most valuable player honors with teammates Erica Tianco and Sonja Garnett.

"Natalie is, without question, the most unique student/athlete I have had the opportunity to coach. She has an incredible amount of energy that transfers to her teammates," says Coach Kristi Lansford, who explains that Batista kept her teammates motivated with raps and songs she's written for each player. Lansford says she'll never forget the time Batista started rapping the praises of one of her teammates during a game. "The pitcher stepped off the mound, the batter out of the box, and the umpire removed his mask," she recalls. "Both teams stood in silence until she was finished. That's how Natalie is. She captures attention in every situation."

At an early age, the Chino, Calif., native discovered she was comfortable with a bat in her hands. "I was always breaking our neighbors' windows," remembers Batista, who honed her skills in the local Little Miss Softball League. She credits her family with supporting her athletic dreams, even during difficult times.

After the family's dairy farm went bankrupt, Batista's father worked long hours to get a new landscaping business up and running to support his wife and children. The teenaged Batista helped her mother raise her five younger brothers and sisters. "I had to grow up fast," she says. Batista wanted to get a part-time job to help out, but her father put his foot down.

"He always told me that I had the rest of my life to work," Batista remembers. "He told me to concentrate on playing ball -- to think of that as my career."

Since transferring from Chaffey College in Southern California to SFSU three years ago, her name has landed on the Dean's List and the Gator Athletics Department Honor Roll every semester.

This fall Batista will return to complete her degree. After four years of college softball, she is no longer eligible to play. She says she'll miss it, but there won't be much time to dwell on her past as captain of the team. Batista is already immersed in a new position as the newly elected president of the SFSU student government association.

"I want Associated Students 2003-2004 to be remembered for listening and support," she says. "My door will always be open to hear anyone's ideas."

Some issues, however, will take priority.

Last year Batista and her teammates watched their softball field disappear beneath classroom trailers strategically placed to use the electrical power of nearby Hensill Hall.

The team was forced to practice nearly 10 miles south of campus in Brisbane. Today the trailers are still sitting on their field.

Batista says she wants to make sure that next year's team gets a new place to practice on campus.

"That's my first order of business," she says. Batista is likely to put on a big performance -- perhaps with a song or a rap -- to see that her field of dreams becomes a reality.

-- Adrianne Bee

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Last modified October 16, 2003, by the Office of Publications