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Senior Profile: Corona laying down the law for Pierce
The last time the Pierce High girls basketball team had a winning season was 2006, but this year's Bears team is off to a promising start.
The Bears are 5-1 after winning their home tournament, and a significant reason for the team's early success is senior Natalie Corona, who was named MVP of the Pierce Girls Basketball Tournament on Friday.
A two-sport standout, Corona played volleyball and was an effective middle hitter, finishing fourth in the Sacramento Valley League with 1.1 blocks per set, and tied for fifth with 1.8 kills per set. She helped Pierce finish the season 22-16 and advance to the semifinals where they lost to eventual champion Los Molinos.
On the basketball court last season, she was the Bears' second leading scorer while averaging 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game.
This year, the addition of 6-foot-2 center Mariah Diaz, and three underclassmen who are 5-11, freed up Corona, who is 6-feet tall, to play big in the block and use her speed to wreak havoc on the wing.
"We went through a lot of struggles last year and we couldn't overcome them," Corona said. "But this year we have a lot of talent on the team and we all take a part in the team."
Another boost for the squad is Corona's younger sister Jackie, a sophomore who moved up to varsity and gives the team a speedy ball-handing guard who isn't afraid of shooting the ball.
"It is really cool, it's always awesome to have a sister there to support you. It's fun to see her on the court and to be able to pass to her," Corona said.
Natalie is the oldest of four girls — Kathy is in seventh grade and Cindy is in third grade — and is a great role model for them. When she isn't involved in some athletic endeavor, Corona is out being involved in the community.
Corona volunteers for the Knights of Columbus, works for the Arbuckle Parks and Recreation Department and participates in Young Life activities.
"I really like to be involved in the community," Corona said. "Service is important and it's something I love."
The influence of her mother, Lupe Corona, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, and her coaches Kim Travis, Cecil Felkins, Ray Diaz, Alex Nunez, Lisa Burnum and Ellen Voorhees helped mold Corona into who she is today, she said.
After high school, Corona wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, Merced Corona, who recently retired after a more than 25-year career in law enforcement with the Colusa County Sheriffs Department.
She plans on joining the Air Force to become a military police officer before returning to the civilian world and entering law enforcement.
"I used to go on ride-alongs with him all the time, and learn awesome things," Corona said. "He would teach me techniques police use and it really fascinated me."
At first glance, Corona doesn't strike an imposing profile, but she grew up in the boxing ring at her father's gym, La Corona Boxing Club. In five amateur fights, she went 3-2 before turning her athletic focus on volleyball and basketball in high school, though she continued to help her father coach children and teenagers at the club.
"Having your dad coach is fun, and being able to teach kids self defense is great because you can use it throughout life," she said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 749-4789