Belanger signs with Bay College
RAPID RIVER — For Rapid River senior Natalie Belanger, the choice to continue playing softball at Bay College with the Norse was an easy one.
“Ever since they announced they were going to have a softball team a few years ago, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Belanger. “They have an awesome coaching staff, it’s close to home and I know I get to play more softball.”
After officially signing with the Norse, much of the stress Belanger had been carrying around disappeared.
“It’s definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I really have less stress now that I know that I have two more years, especially since everything is uncertain right now with sports.”
Belanger is not only ready but excited to make the transition from the high school to the collegiate level and expects the change to be smooth.
While she is not completely sure what she will be majoring in, Belanger has an interest in pursuing athletic training in the future.
Before she begins her college education and softball career, Belanger is hopeful for one last hurrah with her Rocket teammates.
“I really love the team I’m on. All the girls are all so supportive, and they’ve become my best friends,” she said. “It’d mean a lot to play one more year with them.
“I just want to thank all my coaches and my parents for all the support for all the years I played and helped me get to where I am today.”
The opportunity for Belanger to continue her softball career is an awesome one, according to Rapid River athletic director Lucas Bero.
“Anytime a kid gets an opportunity to play college sports, they should take it,” said Bero. “It’s a great experience and a great opportunity to meet people who are probably going to be standing up in your wedding.
“I had that experience at St. Norberts. I met my best friends, and I had the best times of my life.”
Bero, who is in his second year as athletic director in Rapid River, has yet to see much of Belanger on the softball field after last year’s COVID-19 cancellation. However, he said, her work ethic and willingness to put in extra effort in athletics and the classroom speaks to her character.
“She’s been a great asset to Rapid River in a lot of different ways,” he said.
The addition of Belanger to the Norse is one that Bero believes the team will be pleased with.
“It’s a huge signing for them,” he said. “They are getting a very talented softball player and also a great person.”