Sibling Rivalry Fuels Novosel To Succeed

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USA Basketball - Natalie Novosel, an incoming senior at Notre Dame and member of the 2011 USA World University Games team, says it was always her choice whether or not she wanted to play basketball. Really, though, she had no choice. She was born to love and excel at the sport.

Her father, Nick, played three sports in high school and went on to play basketball collegiately at Youngstown State and Kent State. Her older sister, Shannon, played at the University of Evansville, while her twin brother, Nathan, currently competes for the University of Rochester.

Growing up in a basketball family can have pressure, but for Novosel, it was always her choice to play the game the rest of her family loved.

"It was never pressure," she said. "It was complete desire. My dad always pushed me toward basketball, but I wanted him to. I wanted him to coach me, to teach me. I always learn from him, even today."

But before her dad, it was her siblings who made her the player she is today.

"My brother and my sister and I all played different sports, including basketball, growing up," Novosel said. "We'd always have backyard battles in basketball."

But Novosel, who is pushing 5-11, would always lose to her 6-5 brother and 6-2 sister.

"I would lose every single game and it would make me so mad," she said. "They would always have to end the game because I would be crying or throwing the ball at them. I had such a bad temper when I played them."

While the losses in the sibling rivalry were frustrating, it is because of them that she is the player she is today.

"In a way, it kind of fueled my competitiveness because I was relentless," Novosel said. "It made me never want to lose again, and always keep working to become better. I just loved playing basketball after that; it's a true testament to them."

While Novosel may have lost in all the backyard games growing up, it'd be easy to assume she got the upper hand as she grew older.

At Lexington Catholic High School, Novosel went 130-11 (.922) in five seasons as a varsity member. She was a three-time Lexington Herald-Leader all-state selection and a two-time state champion.

From there, she signed with Notre Dame, where as a junior she averaged a team-high 15.1 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 1.9 apg. and 1.9 spg. for the national runner-up Fighting Irish.

"At the end, you felt like you had lost in the second round because you came so close, you could feel it," Novosel said. "Reflecting back, though, it was an unbelievable experience. If every college player could experience playing in the national championship, every game would be so much more competitive because being on that stage just fuels you."

In her three-year collegiate career, Novosel has appeared in three NCAA Tournaments and all 104 games, set an all-time Notre Dame single-season record for free throws made with 183 and was a 2011 All-Big East Conference first team member.

Even with all of her accomplishments, she hopes she hasn't reached the pinnacle of her basketball career, still having one season left with Notre Dame, an international trip to China next week with USA Basketball and a possible professional career after that.

"With basketball, I worked so hard at it. I always wanted to reach for the starts in basketball," she said. "This year was such a surreal year. My team worked so hard, and then to be invited to USA Basketball, it was just an icing on the cake after the season that we had. It's a great feeling to be rewarded."

Adding even more icing is that she has two of her teammates, Skylar Diggins and Devereaux Peters, with her on the USA roster.

"Skylar and Dev, I've never had teammates like them," Novosel said. "We work so hard, and we play for each other. For all three of us to get international experience, it would help so much carrying over to Notre Dame."

While basketball has become Novosel's life, and she hopes to continue playing for years to come, the Lexington, Ky., native will have a bright future no matter what she does. Double majoring in anthropology and pre-professional studies, Novosel is as serious about her studies as she is her game.

"That's one of the reasons Notre Dame was so high on my list," she said. "If you get a degree from Notre Dame it means something. I don't know what will happen after basketball, so I didn't want to waste my time in college."

An ideal career for Novosel would include being a physician's assistant, specializing in delivering babies. The interest sparked after taking several infancy classes at Notre Dame with a nationally renowned professor.

That, though, is years down the road. Right now, Novosel's only thought is winning a gold medal in China.

"It would be an absolute dream come true," she said. "When I was younger, I always thought the women that played for USA were so cool, but I could never see myself there. But every process in the basketball world, if you keep working, you can get there. You have to have confidence in yourself and believe that you can do it."

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