All-State Laker signs with Bearcat basketball and track and field

Plenty of high school athletes would love to have the opportunity to play one college sport. 

Camdenton senior Natalie Basham will get to play two of them.

Basham signed with Southwest Baptist University on Friday where she will play basketball and be a member of the Bearcat track and field team. It has been quite a journey for the senior who has earned her fair share of accolades in both of those sports as well as volleyball and the journey is not quite done yet.

“It is super exciting. I know that I would not be here without my teammates and coaches pushing me through these last four years,” Basham said of the opportunity to continue her athletic career. “It has been a blast and a fun ride. I’ve made so many great memories overall and I could not have done it without them and all the support they’ve given me and my parents.” 

The basketball coach and track and field coach at Camdenton noted that the senior offered plenty in return and did not hesitate to point out some of the things that made her worthy of playing at the next level. 

“She is All-State all the way around and an excellent athlete. For her to go on in basketball is kind of awesome because she did not really know what she was wanting to do,” Camdenton girls’ basketball coach Staci Caffey said. “Those decisions are hard when you have a lot of options so I got to take ‘Nat’ to SBU and go look at it with her and she kind of had that, ‘I like this’ smile on her. She had a great visit with Coach (Kelsey) Keizer and I think she’ll fit in really well there. 

“SBU is getting an outstanding kid. She is committed, a hard worker and she loves a challenge so there is nothing bigger than a challenge to go on and play at the next level.” 

For Camdenton girls’ track and field coach John McNabb, one of the things that stood out was the fact that Basham not only had talent but was willing to work hard to enhance it.

“Obviously the things she’s achieved in my sport, that did not come easily,” he noted. “She has gotten a lot of awards, but she has earned them. It did not just happen by accident and she has worked hard to earn them. She’s also been surrounded by a great group of my teammates. To do what that group of kids has done, not only is she part of the only girls’ state championship team in history, she is also a state champion in an individual event and relay team along with all the other awards she’s had. She’s had a great career and it is not over yet.”

Indeed, there is still a track and field season left to complete but the list of achievements already speak for themselves.  

On the basketball court Basham averaged 23.8 points per game this past season along with 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.4 assists. She has earned All-State recognition, All-Region twice, All-District three times, District Player of the Year, All-Conference three times, All-Tournament team six times, Media All-District three times, Southwest Missouri Future 50 four times and she was also a K-GEL All-Star selection while also joining the 1,000-point club at Camdenton.

She helped the team reach a district championship game this past winter and was part of a 2018 team that won a district title and advanced to the Class 5 state quarterfinals. 

“Natalie is a great example of determination,” Caffey said looking back on the past four years and what others could learn from her. “One of the great things I think she’ll pass on as a leader and captain in our program is just to go and lay it all out there, give it everything you have and never give up. Every game that girl was a competitor and she would do everything she could to rally her team to a victory. It is always good to have an athlete like that on the court, but to have it as a leader, she just stepped up and did it.” 

Of course, that translated to other sports. Basham’s list of volleyball accomplishments featured an All-Region selection, two All-District and All-Conference selections and six All-Tournament Team selections. She was also two-time player of the week in the Southwest area, earned Academic All-State honors and led the district and conference in kills and kills per set this past fall. 

Last but not least, in just three years of track and field Basham has earned All-State nine times bringing home nine state medals with state championships in the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay. She has also earned All-State recognition in the 300-meter hurdles, 4x200 relay and 400-meter dash. Along the way she has picked up six sectional championships and 11 All-Sectional finishes, eight district titles and 11 All-District finishes and seven Ozark Conference titles and 11 All-Conference finishes. She was also nominated as the Southwest Missouri Female Athlete of the Year at the Sports Commission Awards in Springfield as a junior.

By the time it is all done she may add the 200-meter dash to the ranks after winning a conference title in the event five days ago, and the team has finished third at state with a sectional title and two district titles to go along with the state championship in 2017.

Try fitting that resume onto a single page.

“As far as track goes, I have high hopes for her. It is going to be difficult because of doing both sports, but she has the work ethic to accomplish what she wants to in both and that is a great deal,” said McNabb who also noted that she could be a contributor right away on the basketball court and pointed to her willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team in either sport. “You see some kids that are All-State at the end of their career in four events. How many have done five different events because you can only be in four… She is in a different relay this year and who knows? She may be All-State in six different events. 

“That is hard for people to wrap their head around because normally a kid gets kind of settled in early and those are their events. But when you have the versatility, there are things she has not done in track, but she could have. At college meets there are some other events we don’t have so who knows what happens there, but I’m excited for her and excited she is going to be close to home so we’ll get an opportunity to go see her compete in both sports.” 

Clearly, it would make sense to play multiple sports with that kind of athletic ability and there were a few things that enticed Basham to continue with basketball and track and field. The senior noted the hard work it took to make it possible whether it was the daily grind of putting forth the best effort each day or keeping sharp in the classroom.

“Growing up playing basketball, it holds a special place in my heart and I love the team aspect, drive, coaching and the want to get that ball in the hole. For track, it is more individualized so I really like being able to show my skills and ability quietly without trying to be too cocky," she said.

And there was another major factor at play as well. By playing for the Division II school located in Bolivar, Basham will get to reunite with 2016 Camdenton graduate Bailey Rezabek on the basketball court. 

“It really felt like home when I visited there. Bailey plays there and is a senior there so I’m excited,” Basham stated. “She has texted me a lot and helped me get through because I am nervous, but super excited and the coach really pushed me to go there. She (Rezabek) is super excited too so I think it will be great.” 

Caffey, for one, is certainly looking forward to seeing two of her former players on the same court once again as Basham earned varsity minutes the last time she was a freshman for the Lakers. 

“I definitely think she’ll step in and make an immediate impact at SBU so I think her and ‘Rez’ will share some sour time again and that will be fun to watch. I really encourage anybody that loves Laker-style basketball to continue to follow them and watch them at SBU because a lot of great things are still to come,” the Laker coach posited. 

It was certainly a fun four years at Camdenton and looking back on it all, Basham said it was indescribable. There were also a fair share of lessons being a Laker taught her like character and taking care of the body physically and mentally. Her advice to her peers and future Laker athletes was to simply keep pushing.

“I’m excited to get to come back to school, continue reunions and look at all the pictures on the wall and be proud that I left a good legacy here and have a good name,” she said.

“Just keep pushing and get through the hard times because there are always going to be bumps in the road. It is just a matter of getting over those bumps.” 

Basham intends to study nursing during her time as a Bearcat.