Kelley belts it out for Huskies

By Matt Hopkinson

Some people are blessed with athletic ability, while others are blessed with artistic talent.

Then there are a select few who have both.

Natasha Kelley, junior defense and mid-fielder for NIU women’s soccer, is one of those select few.

The Blair, Neb. native is pursuing a major in teaching, as well as minoring in art.

The sophomore sang the national anthem for every NIU women’s soccer home game so far this season; this is not a new experience for her, however.

“I’ve been singing my entire life,” Kelley said. “In high school, I was in concert choir, which was an honor. I did solos all through high school.”

Kelley’s hometown of Blair has a population of 7,900, according to a census from 2010.

She was a three varsity letter winner at Blair High School, along with leading her team to a finish as runners-up in the district championship her sophomore year.

She also received Offensive MVP and the Best Foot Skills award during her time in high school.

Kelley said she doesn’t just sing for the Huskies.

“I sing the national anthem for the fourth of July [in Blair], every single year, for four years now.” Kelley said. “My uncle does fireworks, so it’s like a big production.”

Kelley has yet to see action on the field since she was redshirted her first year, and she did not see playing time last season.

She pitched the idea herself, offering to sing the national anthem for the Huskies’ home games.

“I figured since I couldn’t play to begin with that I needed to contribute somehow,” Kelley said.

Kelley has also made an impression on her coach and teammates as well.

“We had no idea she had this amazing voice,” said NIU head women’s soccer coach Carrie Barker. “It was in preseason, and we had her stay after we had our training, and after the first three words I was like, ‘Wow.’ Right when she opened her mouth we knew she had a special gift.”

Kelley can be heard and seen performing at the NIU Soccer Complex before every women’s soccer home game.

Kelley’s singing may be beneficial to her teammates as well.

“It gives us a better connection to the game,” said NIU senior captain goalkeeper Meaghan Bennett. “I think it makes it more personal when we go out there [and] gets us all excited to play.”

Students who may be in the general vicinity of the soccer complex or near Stevenson Towers minutes prior to kickoff will likely hear her belt out the patriotic anthem.

“Someone told me they were at the stadium and they could hear me from there,” laughed Kelley.

And as for what the future of singing holds, Kelley would like the opportunity to perform on a larger stage later.

“I would definitely love to try out for American Idol, but it would be after college.” Kelley said. “During college, it’s just not going to happen.”