Family and ‘Call to Greatness’ Propelled Lacrosse Raven to Top Award

“Without Benedictine College and my fervent belief in this ‘call to greatness’ I could not and would not have won this award.”

That’s what Natalie Wechter at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, said after winning the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Player of the Year Award for Women’s Lacrosse.

More than the award, though, she said: “The lessons and values that I gain are great. These I can take with me for the rest of my life — to continue to answer the call of greatness and live up to my potential.”

Benedictine President Stephen D. Minnis said the award made history for the college. “Of all the great athletes in our history, this is the first National Player of the Year,” he said. “This is a very big deal, and we could not be more proud of Natalie’s accomplishment.”

In announcing the award, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics said, “Wechter leads the NAIA in draw controls with 9.53 per game. The KCAC Offensive Player of the Year notched 143 draw controls over the Ravens 15 games. The junior posted single-game season-highs of 10 shots, eight shots on goal, six goals and eight assists.”

Wechter is from Royersford, Pa, and plans to graduate from the Benedictine College Nursing program in May, 2022.

“Benedictine has given me opportunities to answer the call and helps me to become the best version of myself that I can be,” she said. “This college believes in us and in this team’s greatness and potential. The staff and our fellow students want us all to be great both on and off the field.”

Wechter gave her team the first credit for the award.

“For me to score a goal, the ball touches many sticks before it gets to mine,” she said. “There is a lot that happens off the field that our team does to be successful. We truly are a family. It’s a team effort and I would not have this award without them.”

Her family had a lot to do with it, too, she said.

“My brother Jonathan introduced me to the sport in 5th grade. Once I picked up a stick, I never put it down,” she said. “My parents and siblings have been my biggest supporters since the start. I would not be here if it wasn’t for them.”

She also thanked her coach — “My coaches are amazing and hard working,” she said. “They push us hard because they believe that we have immense potential — the potential to do great things on and off the field.”

Her coach, Amanda Magee, knows a thing or two about family.

“I am from a big, loud Irish-Italian family from New Jersey,” she told USA Lacrosse. “Although I am far from my family in New Jersey, and I may only see them a few times a year, I have built a family here at Benedictine College. I am blessed that the Atchison community embraced me with open arms … The young women on our team have become like little sisters to me, and I try to foster relationships with them so they know our team is their home away from home as well.”

Charles Gartenmayer, the Athletic Director at Benedictine College stresses “winning within the mission” for Raven Athletics.

“Our goal is for our students to get their degree, have a strong walk with Christ, get along with others, and become leaders,” he says.

Natalie Wechter is well on her way.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.