Women's basketball player is a star on court and on stage

Natalie Diaz ’19 says she is living the Dominican dream.

Last November the Business Administration major, who is thriving on the individualized attention she has received at Dominican, started a new marketing internship off campus and a new season as a star player on the women’s basketball team. In March she was named the Pacific West Conference Co-Player of the YearD2CCA All-West Region First Team, and WBCA All-American Honorable Mention in leading the Penguins to their third consecutive PacWest tournament appearance. In June, she was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women's basketball in the Pacific West Conference, the first female student-athlete at Dominican to earn such an honor.

“Dominican is a small university, but there are so many opportunities,” Natalie says. “Whether it has been coaches, teammates, or faculty, people here have always given me a little push or nudge and encouraged me to pursue the opportunities.”

Natalie came to Dominican on whim. She and her father, Fred, were on their way home from a basketball recruiting trip in 2015 when they turned off the freeway and decided to attend a Dominican women’s basketball practice unannounced.

Natalie officially introduced herself to head coach Tim LaKose, who had been recruiting Natalie by telephone. Coach LaKose introduced her to the team, including two of his key players, Jessy Marshall and Carly Holboke, who gave Natalie a night tour of campus immediately following their practice.

“I remember my dad and I got back in the car and he looked at me and said, ‘I really like this place’ and I responded, `Me, too.’ ”

Natalie, a two-time member of the Pacific West Conference All-Academic team, is now following the footsteps of Jessy and Carly.  Natalie, in her freshman year, joined Jessy in an internship in Dominican’s marketing department. Natalie’s newest internship is at Dibble and Dibble where Carly interned and is now working full-time as project manager.

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Natalie’s decision to study Marketing was inspired by a Business Communications course she took with Dr. Christopher Leeds as a sophomore. It was Dr. Leeds who encouraged Natalie to interview for the internship at Dibble and Dibble. He also arranged for Natalie to interview entrepreneur Leslie Blodgett, founder and CEO of bareMinerals, on stage when she spoke at Dominican in October in an exclusive Barowsky School of Business lecture hosted by the Francoise O. Lepage Center for Global Innovation.

This past season Natalie, who was selected as a team captain for the basketball team as a freshman, concluded her third year as a member of the Penguin Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She also represented Dominican last summer at Pacific West Conference SAAC Retreat in Oakland.

Natalie finished the regular season in women's basketball in 2018 as the leading scorer in the PacWest Conference and fifth in the nation in NCAA Division II with an average of 23.9 points per game. She has scored 1,196 points in her three-year Dominican career, 364 points short of the school's all-time scoring record of 1,559 set by Alisha Flaaten in 2010.

Natalie is grateful for all that Dominican has meant to her.

“If this school wasn’t the size it is, I don’t think I would have had the opportunities I have had,” she says. “I have been able to be one on one with the professors. I have had friends who could put me in positions to succeed. It’s the tight knit community at Dominican that really led me to be successful.”


November 3, 2017