Sunday, August 01, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Crosby Spikes Her Way to the East Haven Hall of Fame

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Natalie Crosby had an illustrious career with the Yellowjackets’ volleyball and softball squads. The 2007 graduate will be enshrined in the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame later this year. Photo courtesy of Steve Narracci

Natalie Crosby had an illustrious career with the Yellowjackets’ volleyball and softball squads. The 2007 graduate will be enshrined in the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame later this year. (Photo courtesy of Steve Narracci)

Natalie Crosby was a top-notch volleyball and softball player at East Haven High School. A 2007 graduate, Natalie earned All-State honors for both of her teams as a senior after helping the volleyball squad win a state title during her sophomore year. For everything she accomplished as a Yellowjacket athlete, Natalie has earned her place in the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

Natalie found out about her upcoming induction when Steve Narracci, the executive director of the Alumni Association, called her and told her the good news.

“I usually scan all my phone calls, but I picked his up, and he introduced himself and told me that I had been nominated. I was in shock, because I just graduated 10 years ago and didn’t think it would come this soon,” says Natalie, a Milford resident. “It really is a shock to me, but my family and I are really excited.”

Natalie initially considered going out for the cheerleading team, but decided to play volleyball when she started high school. One person who’s happy Natalie made that decision is Eva Esposito, who was the Yellowjackets’ head coach when Natalie joined the squad. Esposito knew that Natalie was going to make an instant impact with the Easties.

“She was a natural athlete when she came to us as a freshman. Two days into tryouts and we knew she’d be playing varsity really soon,” Esposito says. “She has a very strong work ethic and practiced really hard every single day. She’s one of the reasons we won a state title. She really could put the ball anywhere on the court.”

Natalie helped East Haven claim a 3-1 victory over Masuk in the Class L State Tournament final in 2004. She went on to earn All-SCC, All-State, and All-Area honors for her junior and senior seasons. Natalie finished her high-school volleyball career with 900 kills, 500 digs, and a 95-percent success rate on serve.

“Under Eva Esposito—don’t get me wrong, she was tough—but that’s why we were able to win a state championship. We worked hard, but we had so much fun doing it. I think our team chemistry is something that will always be a fond memory of mine,” says Natalie, who played outside hitter. “Everybody lives for getting the kill on the opposite team. Staying within the action is what drove me to love that position.”

Natalie, who works for the New Haven Police Department, had the chance to play volleyball in college and took full advantage of her opportunity by competing for Western Connecticut State University. Natalie recorded 1,138 kills, 161 aces, and 924 digs throughout her collegiate career. She was named the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman and garnered All-New England recognition for her senior season.

“I always knew I wanted to play volleyball in college,” Natalie says. “To have those four years playing the sport I loved just made it that much better.”

Natalie primarily played left field as a member of the East Haven softball team. She made All-State in her senior year after posting a .467 batting average with 18 RBI. For her career, Natalie hit .375 and totaled 85 hits.

“I didn’t even know about those numbers,” says Natalie. “I did not think they were that good.”

Natalie’s Hall of Fame recognition has prompted her to reflect upon her time as a Yellowjacket these past few weeks. The statistics are one thing, but Natalie’s fondest memories stem from the success that she and her fellow Easties enjoyed as a team.

“Honestly, I can look back now and say, ‘Wow, I accomplished this and I accomplished that,’ but when you’re in that moment, I never thought about my stats or being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I just love playing the game and just happened to be pretty good at it,” Natalie says. “Being All-State was never the goal. My main goal was to always have fun and help my team however I could.”


PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at pj.foti@shorepublishing.com.

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