For Greene County News
FAIRBORN — Pat Ferguson has been coaching Natalie Sedlock in some capacity since she was 11, or for nearly half of her life. Ferguson may not have known little 11-year-old Natalie would someday become one of his star players at Wright State, but he certainly recognized potential.
“She was just a little spaghetti noodle, but she was MVP of the camp,” Ferguson recalled. “She had a lot of drive. She had speed. She was competitive. I thought, ‘She’s going to be a good player some day.’ But at no point did I think I would be coaching her for this many years.”
“He actually had hair then,” Sedlock recalled when asked about her first interaction with Ferguson at the 2006 Wright State Soccer Camp. “I thought he was funny. He made the camps fun. He was never trying to be intimidating.”
Ferguson began coaching Sedlock full-time when she was 14, with the Ohio Galaxies club team. After graduating from Beavercreek High School, she chose Wright State. And, over four years, Sedlock has developed into one of the Raiders’ primary scoring threats.
“She’s not just naturally gifted; she’s put a lot of effort into it,” Ferguson said. “Natalie is markedly better now than as a freshman because she would always stay after practice, hitting shots and trying things. She’s obviously speedy, strikes a good ball, and likes to take players on.”
Sedlock scored a team-high five goals in 2014 and contributed an assist. But the Raiders finished 6-10-1, their first losing season since 2003. Sedlock and her teammates are hoping for better things in 2015. Seven freshmen started in some games last fall. Those freshmen are now sophomores, a year older and a year wiser.
“Last year was definitely frustrating,” Sedlock said. “We know we have to focus on getting better. We want to prove to ourselves that we can win.”
Sedlock was joined on the roster this fall by her younger sister, Kelsey, a freshman midfielder. Another sister, Molly, made the Beavercreek varsity as a freshman. All have been coached by Ferguson, which reflects the trust Joe and Dianna Sedlock have placed in the Wright State coach.
“I like his coaching style and I’m confident in it,” Dianna Sedlock said. “He gives praise when needed and correction when needed, and he gives them in equal amounts.”
Dianna said she tried to give her daughters a normal childhood, but they would have none of it. She put Natalie in dance class (“She had very good foot skills.”), Kelsey in ballet (“She only wanted cleats on her feet.”) and all three in Girl Scouts (“That was ridiculous.”). In the end, however, the Sedlocks chose to be, in Natalie’s words, “The typical family in the minivan with soccer balls in the back.”
Every weekend was filled with soccer tournaments. But, Sedlock said, all those trips in the minivan did not result in her becoming a great player until she grew four inches during her sophomore year in high school.
“I was kind of small, then I went through this huge growth spurt,” Sedlock said. “It took me a while to get used to being 5-foot-7. (Ferguson) used to call me Frankenstein because of the way I ran.”
Sedlock scored 12 goals as a senior at Beavercreek, then chose Wright State for college because, she said, she was comfortable with Ferguson and wanted to stay close to home. Sedlock started 18 games as a freshman and scored her first collegiate goal against Cleveland State.
She also began to discover a fascination with genetics. The biology major, on course to graduate in May 2016, particularly enjoyed a molecular genetics class with Athanasios Bubulya, Ph.D., a lecturer in the College of Science and Mathematics.
“It was a very hands-on class where we got to extract DNA and study how much you can do with genes,” Sedlock said. “I am in the pre-veterinary program right now, but I want to look into genetics and genetic counseling.”
Sedlock is off to a nice start in 2015, having scored a team-high two goals in the Raiders’ first four games. Wright State (2-2) continues its season Friday at home against Miami (Ohio) and Sunday at Dayton.
“This sport teaches you a lot,” Sedlock said. “I have learned about life, about teamwork, about how to keep different personalities from clashing. I can’t believe how fast four years has gone by. It has been a blast for me.”