Career in the Making
April 7, 2015
Tennis has the Williams sisters, soccer has Alex Morgan, volleyball has Misty May-Treanor and now, basketball has junior Natalie Chou. Since her freshman year, Chou has dedicated her time to playing on the Lady Wolves basketball team. From playing on a high school team to dominating the court and representing the United States in women’s basketball overseas, Chou’s extravagant basketball career had its own humble beginnings.
“I started playing basketball when I was in the second grade,” Chou said. “My mom played professionally in China and is a basketball skills coach, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Basketball just ran in the family. My older sister also played basketball in high school, so she was also a strong influence.”
During the summer of 2012, right before her sophomore year, Chou was introduced to the USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team Trials by a few college coaches. Her first year of try-outs ended in disappointment, as she did not make it to the final team. The next summer, however, Chou was invited by the committee of the Trials to try out for the U17 National team again. Only 40 players were invited, and she was one of them.
“I knew I had a good chance of making it since I was more prepared and had made it so far last year,” Chou said. “The head of the women’s basketball department announced the team, and when she said my name, I was really relieved and excited.”
In this summer experience, Chou learned to better herself as a basketball player and was even given the chance to travel all over the world.
“We had training camp for about two weeks in the Olympic training center in Colorado,” Chou said. “We would practice twice a day for two or more hours. Then we traveled to Paris, France for a tournament to check out our competition. Then we traveled to Prague, Czech Republic for the world championship tournament.”
While playing in these tournaments, the U17 team competed against the likes of China, France, Mali, Mexico, Canada, Hungary and Spain, even beating Spain by two points in the championship game.
“The most rewarding part of the world championships was definitely standing on the podium and receiving my gold medal,” Chou said. “It was really exciting to know that all the hard work my team went through finally paid off. Also, having the friendship with all the girls was awesome.”
Aside from playing in national tournaments across the globe and representing the the United States in women’s basketball, Chou’s teamwork on the Lady Wolves basketball team can also be added to her resume.
“My team at West is pretty much a second family to me,” Chou said. “I love how we are all completely different kinds of people and come from all different backgrounds, but we can come together and work on something we all love: basketball.”
Chou’s participation on the team inspires her teammates through her character and go-getter mentality, which also set her apart from everyone else.
“I think that one thing that makes Natalie different is that she’s humble about her game,” girls varsity basketball captain senior Sydney Skinner said. “She can score 30 points in a game and not make it a big deal or boast about it. She’s not one to brag or rub it in anyones face. She gets the points she deserves and works for every one of them.”
Her persistence on the court reflects who she is off the court. By working hard and practicing with determination and endurance, Chou is able to keep her eye on the target and achieve her goals.
“My advice to people who wish to work towards their passion like me is to never give up and keep on working,” Chou said. “The first year at USA tryouts, I didn’t make the team, but that school year and summer I trained with my mom every day on all different kinds of skills and made sure I was prepared for tryouts the next year, and I made it.”
Since basketball has become such an integral part of her life, Chou plans to have basketball play an important role in her future.
“I will definitely be playing basketball in college,” Chou said. “I don’t know where yet, but I have many amazing options. After college, I would like to play professionally in the Women’s National Basketball Association and/or overseas. When I retire from playing professionally, I would love to coach.”
With the same sense of level-headedness and direction, Chou hopes to take her skills all the way up to the Olympic level.
“My ultimate achievement would be to have the chance to represent my country again at the highest level: the Olympic stage,” Chou said. “That would be a blessing, and I know if I work hard enough, I’ll have a chance to do so.”
Even though Chou’s role models are mainly basketball-based, her true inspiration comes from a close source.
“My mother inspires me,” Chou said. “She has taught me everything I know about basketball and life. She shows me that there’s always good if you keep pushing and to never give up.”
Although her main source of inspiration comes from her mother, the most influential advice she has ever received relates to all people and comes from her Amatuer Athletic Union coach, Jason Terry.
“He said to always believe in yourself and what you do,” Chou said. “There will be many others who won’t agree with you and put you down, but if you believe in what you do, then you will always achieve.”
Remembering these wise words of admonition, Chou’s greatest lesson received comes from her own experiences.
“The most valuable lesson I have learned from playing basketball is that there is always a way,” Chou said. “There’s always a way to get around the defender and score. If you do a move or fake that doesn’t work the first time, there is always another move that will shake the defender. If your shooting isn’t on one night, you can always dive in or contribute in another way. This is also my motto in life: when one event or idea doesn’t work out, there’s always another route you can take.”