Athlete of the Week: Smith Academy’s Keith Natale
HATFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — One of the great aspects of high school sports is watching the talent achieve major feats. For Smith Academy’s Keith Natale, cracking the 1,000 point plateau was not just a personal achievement. With a packed house on-hand in support, it was a number he was happy to see the school take pride in.
“It felt great. I really don’t have the words to describe it. It felt great, especially to get the win too,” Natale said, “It felt good with the full bleachers, it felt amazing, especially to get it done in the first half and get all the jitters out.”
With milestones looming, it is often characteristic for an athlete to maybe feel the burden of it slowly creeping up. The offensive standout was relieved once it was all said and done.
“I was ready to get it done and was glad I got it over with in the first half. Didn’t have to worry about the halftime and all that,” Natale said, “I wasn’t trying to think a whole lot about it. I was just trying to stay calm.”
“Right off the bat, you can see that his understanding of the game has been high,” said head coach Matthew Zerneri, “Just instinctively his shot selection, what he needed to do and what’s a good shot or bad shot. We never really had to talk to him about it.”
For a coach who has seen Natale grow over five years, there is a certain accomplished feeling that comes in watching the success. Natale’s maturity in all sports has truly impressed Zerneri.
“It’s a big thing at this school. It’s not a big school so sports aren’t as individualized as a lot of other schools. You need the athletes to play all the other sports,” Zerneri said.
An All-Western Mass talent in soccer, basketball and baseball, Natale credits his success to hard work at a young age.
“I know I’ve loved the game since elementary school and it just stuck with me. I’ve been playing them since day one so that’s why I got so good at them,” said Natale.
It is that type of effort in those sports that transition to the next level and establishes further opportunities to reach even more important milestones in the future.