It is with great pleasure that the Olympic Sports Performance staff at the University of Louisville nominates Natalie Kollars for the 2015 Lance Vermeil Award.
Natalie joined our staff in July of 2014 and is currently completing the first of two years as our Graduate Assistant while pursuing a Master's degree in exercise physiology. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she was a five-year member of the women's soccer team. At McMaster, she served as the team captain for three seasons, leading team warm-ups, cool-downs, as well as off-season lifting and conditioning workouts. In addition, she still holds five all-time soccer performance testing records at the school. As an undergrad, she gained valuable experience working in the McMaster Sports Medicine Clinic and High Performance Center, as well as serving as the strength and conditioning coach for the Hamilton FC women's semi-professional soccer team in Hamilton, Ontario.
In Summer 2013, Natalie was selected for a highly competitive internship position with EXOS (formerly Athletes' Performance). Due to her exemplary performance, she was asked to serve as an assistant coach at EXOS during the 2014 NFL Combine Preparation Program, where she contributed to the planning and execution of the performance testing and training of 25 aspiring NFL draftees.
In Summer 2014, Natalie arrived in Louisville and immediately made her presence known. As our lone GA she plays an integral role in all aspects of our Sports Performance program. As a young coach, Natalie possesses the rare combination of intelligence, experience, coaching presence, work ethic, enthusiasm, and ability to relate to athletes. She is the first person in/last person to leave each day, while balancing challenging graduate coursework, significant coaching responsibilities, completion of our demanding internship curriculum, and preparation for the SCCC. And, she does everything she does with a smile on her face and the highest level of enthusiasm and positivity.
This year Natalie was given the primary coaching role with our men's and women's diving programs- a rare responsibility for a first year graduate student in our program. This assignment speaks strongly to her coaching capabilities, and the trust she has earned with the Performance staff.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, is the quality of Natalie's character. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer three years ago, she and her siblings created a charity to raise money for cancer research. Through their tireless efforts over the past three years they have single-handedly raised over $50,000 for the cause. Despite her age, she is more charitable than most will be in a lifetime.
As a young female in this profession, Natalie has an extremely bright future and exemplifies all the qualities of a Lance Vermeil Award candidate. We are fortunate to have her represent the University of Louisville, and she has the full support and wholehearted recommendation of the entire Louisville Sports Performance staff.