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Senior Salute: La Center’s Natasha Lewis finds perfect fit at Johns Hopkins Univeristy

High Schools: Tim Martinez

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: June 1, 2020, 1:52pm
6 Photos
Natasha Lewis is 12-letter winner in three sports over four years at La Center High School. She's also co-valedictorian.
Natasha Lewis is 12-letter winner in three sports over four years at La Center High School. She's also co-valedictorian. (Photo courtesy of La Center High) Photo Gallery

Natasha Lewis always likes to challenge herself.

In four years at La Center High School, Lewis was a 4.0 student, co-valedictorian, winner of 12 letters as a four-year, three-sport athlete and an All-Region honoree in cross country.

Now she’s ready for a new challenge – to pursue academics and run cross country at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“I like to raise the bar for myself and see what I can accomplish,” Lewis said. “I’m excited for the challenge of college, but I’m also nervous. I’ve always been near the top of my high school both in academics and athletics. … But La Center is a small school. And now I’ll be going to a school where there will be people faster than me and people who are a lot smarter than me. It will be a big adjustment, and I’m a little bit nervous about it. But I’m also looking forward to being around people who will challenge me athletically and academically.”

The search for her college of choice began early in her junior year of high school when she sat down with her father and starting making a very long list of schools she would be interested in attending. It spanned the country.

She also reached out to cross country coaches at those schools, knowing that she wanted to make athletics a part of her college experience.

“Running in many ways helps me with academics,” she said. “Having training time set every day will help me set up a schedule. Plus having those hours set aside for running will give me a brain break from my studies. And expending that energy will be positive for my body and my brain.”

Studying the brain is what Lewis wants to do in college. She plans to major in neuroscience, possibly on a pre-med track.

“I know I want to do research on the brain because I feel like there is so much more to be learned,” Lewis said. “I don’t know if going that route will lead me to become a researcher or maybe becoming a surgeon or a neurologist. There are a lot of different places my major can take me, and I’m open to the possibilities once I learn more about it.”

Johns Hopkins was a perfect fit academically. When she received positive feedback from the school’s cross country coach, she found her athletic ideal as well.

“I really liked the coach, the team and what he said about team atmosphere,” Lewis said. “And it was also a really good school for my major. So I ended up doing another visit last fall. I stayed in the dorms and ran with the team. It was all super positive.”

Johns Hopkins has dominated women’s cross country at the NCAA Division III level, winning six national championships in the past eight years with one runner-up finish.

Lewis knows a little something about success in cross country.

“The team atmosphere we had in cross country was one of best of any team I’ve been on,” Lewis said. “We were all working hard together, going through pain together, and it brought us super close. … I believe we were the only La Center team – in any sport – that has podiumed at state four years in a row.”

Senior Salute

Each week through June, Tim Martinez will spotlight a different high school senior athlete.

If you know of a senior who deserves some attention, send it to tim.martinez@columbian.com or send a direct message on Twitter to @360TMart.

She also enjoyed success as a member of the basketball team in the winter.

“I fell in love with busy schedule of doing all three sports,” she said. “Sports have been passion since I was young. It was an outlet for me. And I love how many people I got to meet through sports — kids I didn’t have classes with.”

Through the current lockdown and schooling at home, running continues to be a calming part of Lewis’ day.

“Running is like a meditation for me,” she said. “I just love being outside in nature. I like to completely unplug from technology and just run by feel. I don’t even run with a watch.”

And given the current situation, Lewis feels like she could not have picked a better college to attend than Johns Hopkins.

“Hopkins is one main outlets in the country for keeping up research and statistics of the outbreak,” she said. “They are really on top of things. I get weekly emails, if not more often, about recent studies and what is happening on campus. Nothing is certain, but did say try as hard as they can to get us on campus.”

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at (360) 735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.