Natalie Kashian never intended to be a standout volleyball player.
Even with her deep family roots, Kashian never even played the game before she was in eighth grade. When she was attending middle school in Secaucus, Kashian’s intentions were first to be a soccer player.
“But then I felt sort of obligated to play volleyball,” Kashian said.
Kashian’s mother, Dorine, was a fine volleyball player at Secaucus and later St. Peter’s College. So was her aunt Sheila Ulrich Rivera, who was not only a great three-sport athlete at Secaucus and two-sport athlete at SPC, eventually gaining induction into the St. Peter’s Hall of Fame. Sheila Rivera was also the long-time softball and volleyball coach at Secaucus High School and is a member of the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Hall of Fame.
And then there was Natalie’s cousin, Cory Roesing, perhaps the greatest athlete in the history of Secaucus High and the 2006-2007 Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year. Roesing was a three-sport standout at Secaucus (First Team All-State volleyball player) who played volleyball at Caldwell College. Roesing is currently the head volleyball and softball coach at Secaucus.
“I felt like volleyball was in my genes,” Kashian said. “No one forced me to play. My parents gave me the option of what sport to play, but I sort of just went with my gut.”
But cousin Cory was instrumental.
“Cory wanted me to play,” Kashian said. “I listened to her.”
“Natalie is a natural athlete,” Roesing said. “She had that natural instinct. You look to see if they have that spark, the interest in playing. It made me think back to what my aunt Sheila did with me, so I basically did what she did.”
Roesing basically did what her aunt did when Roesing was in middle school — played the family card.
So Natalie became a volleyball player, but she needed a position to play.
“I was first a setter, but Cory thought I would be better as a libero,” Kashian said. “She thought it was the best position for me.”
However, playing the position of libero is a thankless position. There’s no glory, no major points to score, no balls to hit. You basically dive all over the floor to make defensive plays.
“You definitely don’t get much of the credit,” Roesing said.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Kashian said. “I knew I had to get the passes up for my teammates to hit it.”
But after a while, Kashian took to being the libero.
“I honestly enjoyed it,” Kashian said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
There is one statistic that a libero can accumulate – the dig, when a player makes a great defensive play to keep the ball alive and directly leads to a point scoring play.
Kashian remembered a Secaucus legend collecting 1,000 digs in high school.
“I knew Andie Lennon did it, so I wanted to get the chance to surpass what she did,” Kashian said of Lennon, the former Secaucus three-sport standout who also had a great volleyball career at Caldwell University, as it is now called. “It was always a goal of mine to do it.”
Considering Lennon was the only Secaucus volleyball player to ever accumulate more than 1,000 digs, it was a lofty goal for Kashian.
However, Kashian, now a senior, achieved that goal. Not only did Kashian collect her 1,000th dig, but she surpassed Lennon as the all-time leader in Secaucus.
“It’s tough, because to get a dig, a lot of that depends upon the other team,” Kashian said. “It was really hard, because I have to go after everything.”
But cousin Cory is very proud of her family protégé.
“I think the fact that she’s only the second one ever speaks volumes about what kind of player she is,” Roesing said. “Communication is the key. She is a big part of what we do. Sometimes, she may not get a dig, but she keeps playing hard. This [the milestone] is very well deserved.”
Natalie Kashian wants to remain in New Jersey for college. She’s considering Caldwell, Georgian Court and Felician among schools of interest.
“No doubt in my mind, she can play in college,” Roesing said.
“Honestly, it’s just surprising that everything turned out this way,” said Kashian, whose brother Aaron was a basketball standout at Secaucus last year and a former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week.
Kashian will lead the Patriots in play in the upcoming Hudson County Tournament and the NJSIAA state playoffs…
Last week, the Hudson Catholic football team, struggling through a tough 0-5 season, managed to defeat Bayonne, 33-30, thanks to a great game from running back Zaheir White, who had 148 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown. White also had an interception and three pass break-ups. It was a good win for the Hawks, who needed the victory to turn the tough season around…
St. Peter’s Prep’s heroics against Don Bosco Prep is noted in this week’s Athlete of the Week feature with Ben Silver, as the Marauders remain the No. 2 team in New Jersey and the No. 5 Catholic school team in the nation at 6-0.
The rest of Hudson County is battling mediocrity this season. Union City fell to 3-3 on the season with a hard loss to Northern Valley/Old Tappan, while Lincoln improved to 3-3 with a huge win over Shabazz, 22-12.
A Lincoln loss would have eliminated the Lions from the post-season picture. The win kept those hopes alive.
The same can be said for Hoboken, which defeated Glen Ridge, to improve to 3-2. A loss would have sealed doom for the Redwings.
The Hudson County soccer tournaments have moved to the final round, with St. Peter’s Prep, ranked No. 15 in the state, will take on No. 8-ranked Kearny in the championship game Thursday night, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at a neutral site to be determined. More than likely, that site will be Harrison High School.
The girls’ tourney will pit upstart Bayonne facing eight-time tourney champ Kearny…
Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (6-0). 2. Bayonne (4-2). 3. Union City (3-3). 4. North Bergen (3-2). 5. Lincoln (3-3)…
Hudson Reporter High School Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (14-4). 2. Ferris (12-2-1). 3. Union City (9-5-1). 4. North Bergen (5-9-4). 5. Hudson Catholic (9-3). – Jim Hague