Mason Madness celebrates the start of the basketball season with the green machine, mason dance team, mason cheerleading, and more. Photo by Bethany Camp / Creative Services / George Mason University

Natalie Butler: A Story of Coming Home

By Natalie Heavren, Staff writer 

When I found out Natalie Butler was transferring from the powerhouse University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to Mason for her last year of eligibility, I was understandably excited. As a Connecticut native and now a Mason freshman, I would get to spend another year watching Butler, not on TV but from my seat with the Green Machine at EagleBank Arena.
I sat down with Butler on Nov. 1 to ask her a few questions about what led her to join Mason Nation.


FOURTH ESTATE: What drew you to Mason?
Natalie Butler: The global affairs masters program. I really wanted to focus on doing something international with my graduate degree, so the fact that that was offered here and not at Connecticut was a huge, I guess, key factor for me coming to Mason. And then in addition to that, having the coaching staff, and the coaching staff here is phenomenal. They really want to work with me so that was really appealing. And then having the family aspect with my teammates.


FOURTH ESTATE: How did the Mason women’s basketball team welcome you this offseason?
NB: I think it was with open arms.  I think it’s tough to let a fifth year senior come in, and I feel like my team really was open to that idea and I think that’s huge because not a lot of teams do that. And again, that just brings in the whole family aspect that we really have with this team here at Mason. And just I’m just welcome be a part of their family.


FOURTH ESTATE: So what is the most important thing you learned and were able to take with you from your time at UCONN?
NB: I would say to go hard every play. I think that was a huge concept to learn there. There’s no plays off.


FOURTH ESTATE: What do you think you’ll be able to contribute to the team this season?
NB: Hopefully, bring some leadership with Taylor Dodson who’s our other senior. So I think and we can sort of be a dynamic duo. And then also, bring energy and hard work I guess. I think that a lot of it comes with setting an example on the court, as a senior should do.


FOURTH ESTATE: What are your hopes for the team this season?
NB: I would like to see us go into postseason play, and do well in postseason play.


FOURTH ESTATE: Who, in basketball, did you look up to growing up? Why?
NB: Probably my dad. My dad sort of became my coach growing up a little bit, he really just worked with me throughout you know my basketball career. He’s just always been there. He played ball at the Naval Academy so he’s got experience. They did pretty well when he was there, so I always had this dream of being like dad.  


FOURTH ESTATE: What’s the best advice you’ve received at any level of your basketball career?
NB: The best advice would be to take care of your sport, and your sport will take care of you. Meaning if you do everything that you’re supposed to do things will play out the way that they’re supposed to. And then I feel like the concept goes with anything, like school, with work, or whatever it is you got to take the right steps to put you in the best position to be successful. And then things will fall into place. Maybe not immediately but eventually, things will come around.


FOURTH ESTATE: What is your goal for after you graduate?
NB
: I would like to play at the next level. Coach Milleson and Coach Ngongba have really been working with me to try to get me to be able to get those looks for next year. If not, then the next step would be doing an internship with something like international consulting or something along those lines, so we’ll see. But, the first goal would definitely if I ever had the opportunity to play overseas or professionally here that would be amazing, I mean a huge opportunity, just to say that you’ve done it. That you’ve made it to that level.

Butler and the rest of the Mason Women’s Basketball Team kicked off their season in the first round of the Preseason WNIT at No. 23 Michigan.

Photo Courtesy of Mason Creative Services