Written by Student Assistant Sarah Cornell-Maier
TACOMA, Wash. – When you think of a person who inspires you, who is the first person who comes to mind? Is it a family member, a community member, or a longtime idol?
For many Pacific Lutheran University community members, the name Natalie McCarthy comes to mind. This association was shared by the leadership of the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) Seattle Storm, as McCarthy was honored with the Storm's Inspirational Women's Award, and will be publicly recognized at their game on July 15th against the Atlanta Dream inside KeyArena.
After losing her sight in her early childhood, McCarthy chose to persevere rather than allow her blindness control her. A member of the PLU class of 2009, McCarthy was a student-athlete on the women's rowing team, and went on to accomplish so much more after graduation. McCarthy is a force to be reckoned with on the water, with three gold medals at the Crash B Indoor Rowing Championship, three gold medals and a course record at the Head of the Charles Regatta, a bronze medal in the 2013 World Rowing Championships, along with several national team appearances over that time.
Even after all of this success, McCarthy was still shocked when she found out she was being honored by the Seattle Storm.
"To be honest, at first I thought it might be a friend playing a joke. Seemed a bit unrealistic to be called "out of the blue" and offered an honor from a professional basketball team."
However, once she had realized that it was not a prank, McCarthy was deeply honored by the recognition.
"This award symbolizes many accomplishments to me but most importantly, this is a great step forward in the efforts to recognize adaptive athletes and build connections between adaptive athletes and able bodied athletes," said McCarthy.
"These connections are so powerful among athletes at all levels but I particularly see the value in building these connections between para- and able-bodied athletes at the elite level of competition."
McCarthy's experience at PLU was integral to her success later on.
"I benefited from the unwavering support of my teammates, coaches, and even classmates and faculty who were not involved with rowing but supported my athletic goals," she said.
"It was my desire to advocate for others, whether that's athletes or other individuals facing challenges, that encouraged me to become a mediator and more recently, apply to law school. My goal is to continue this involvement in the para-sports community and continue on a path supporting positive change as an attorney. I am very honored that the Seattle Storm recognized my efforts and wants to celebrate women in the Seattle community who are committed to making change."
Fans attending the game on July 15 can use the promo code INSPIRE17 for discounted tickets to the event.