Athlete of the Week: Natalie Pfleger


John Pham

Pfleger has been on the girls varsity soccer team since her freshman year at La Salle.

Lillian Paugh, Staff Reporter

Natalie Pfleger, a senior at La Salle and a captain for the girls soccer team, has made it a long way as an athlete and strives to go even further.

Beginning to play when she was four years old, Pfleger says her parents inspired her to pick up the sport. “Both my parents played their whole lives and my dad played college soccer, and so he really wanted me to pursue that,” she said. “And then I just loved it, so I kept doing it.”

Pfleger has been playing on the varsity soccer team since freshman year and even remembers when she scored her first two goals in a game as a part of the team. Since then, she feels she has grown immensely as a teammate and as a leader.

As a captain of both her club team outside of school and La Salle’s varsity girls soccer team, she notes that her freshman self could not have possibly imagined being in those positions. “[It’s] not that I wasn’t a leader, but I didn’t necessarily motivate people or say anything to anybody else to help them go,” she said.

“I feel like on the field, I’ll encourage people, or, off the field, I’ll talk in the team chats and say what we need to improve on and stuff. And I definitely [have] matured in that way.”

Her favorite parts about soccer include the close friendships she has developed and getting the chance to bond with her teammates due to their shared experience with being student athletes. “I’m with them all the time,” Pfleger said. “And they know the struggles of being a soccer player and going to school and everything.”

Juggling soccer and academics is “very difficult at times,” Pfleger said. “I’ll be very stressed, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have so much homework, I’m gonna have a game, I can’t do my homework during the game.’”

Nonetheless, Pfleger looks on the bright side and views managing her soccer career and studies as something that has taught her valuable lessons she plans to further utilize when she gets to college.

“The high level of soccer that I play requires a lot of sacrifice, so it teaches me how to be committed to something while also having to balance other things around it,” she said. “I think it teaches me [time management], and it also shows me how to work with a team.”

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had also created a new challenge for Pfleger as a team player in isolation. Without her team or coaches around, she found that she had to pick up the responsibility of ensuring she maintained her skills during lockdown. She said that with all the uncertainty of her soccer schedule last year “it was difficult to keep a good mindset.”

“But I just kept practicing with my dad or my sisters, and then luckily we were able to come back.”

Pfleger’s love for the sport and her aspirations of playing college soccer also served as motivation during those unpredictable times and continue to inspire her to work hard to achieve her goals as an athlete.