Laced up in skates – ice, inline and regular roller skates – UMW senior Natalie Motley has claimed one athletic title after another. But the recent gold-medal moment she shared with a sibling was something new.
“To have both of us on top of the podium in our respective events, hearing the national anthem play twice, was an extreme honor,” Motley said of the first-ever sister-bother win in the Artistic Skating World Championships in Novara, Italy, last month.
Claiming two of the competition’s four gold medals won by Americans, Natalie, 23, led the senior ladies’ division, and younger brother Collin, 16, led the junior men’s slot, for ages 18 and younger, for inline skating.
Growing up, Collin watched Natalie polish her axels, lutzes and loops, sweeping regional, national and world skating contests. He also saw something else: his sister’s determination. Along with athletic gear, Motley lugged notebooks and textbooks across the globe to compete, while keeping her eyes on the ultimate prize – a college degree.
“[Collin] sees how hard I work at my studies,” said Motley, who earned an associate’s degree at the University of Delaware (UD) and followed older brother, Matthew Motley ’11, to Mary Washington. “I think Collin feels that he will one day also be able to obtain a college education while skating competitively.”
A member of Team USA for 10 out of the past 11 years, Motley was 6 when her mother introduced her to skates, at a rink near the family’s Northern Virginia home. She landed her first axel, a one-and-a-half-twist jump, at 10, and there was no turning back.
Summertime stints at her grandparents’ Illinois farm piqued her interest in the organic. She studied agriculture and natural resources at UD, and majors in environmental geology at UMW.
The balancing act between school and skating – she trains, competes and teaches – hasn’t been easy. Take, for example, the time she squeezed an online exam between warm-ups and competition at an Albuquerque, New Mexico, meet. She won the national contest and scored an A on the test.
To stay on track, she enrolls in virtual courses when possible and, with her advisor, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Chuck Whipke, finds creative ways to meet Mary Washington’s stringent degree requirements.
“This meant the world to me,” said Motley, who spent time researching the wetland hydrology of Delaware’s Delmarva Bay. “I had invested years in my skating career and now, during my college education, I’ve achieved three gold world medals.”
To learn more about Natalie Motley, read her Great Minds story.